The Victoria Sponge is a sponge cake sandwiched together with raspberry jam and dusted on the top with caster sugar*. It is a quintessential English teatime treat and became popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. You will encounter a Victoria Sponge in most tearooms in England. It will be a friendly encounter. I have rarely met a Victoria Sponge I didn’t like.
The ingredients in a traditional Victoria Sponge (sometimes called a Victoria Sandwich) – eggs, flour, sugar, and butter – should be of equal weight; the eggs are weighed in their shell. There are a number of Victoria Sponge variations including using strawberry jam instead of raspberry; adding buttercream or whipped double cream instead of just jam; and dusting the top with icing sugar rather than caster sugar.
History of the Victoria Sponge
It is widely written that the Victoria Sponge was Queen Victoria’s favourite cake. That may well be true, but I was listening to English food expert Clarissa Dickson Wright on telly the other night and she said that the Victoria Sponge originated at the nursery tea. She explained that afternoon tea cakes in early Victorian days would have consisted of a fruit cake and a seed cake. For safety reasons, it was believed that children should not eat a cake containing pieces of fruit or seeds, so the light, harmless Victoria Sponge was created as their teatime treat. It wasn’t until later that the Victoria Sponge made its way to the adult tea table.
Ever since seeing the cute Victoria Sponge recipe in Betty magazine, I have been wanting to try it and this past week-end was the perfect opportunity. The directions were very straightforward and easy to do, and the cake turned out beautifully. I only had one hiccup with the recipe as written and that is that it yielded way too much buttercream for the cake – and I carelessly used it all. (Mr. Tea says that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.) Next time I will
eat the extra buttercream myself halve the amount.
Here is a page with the Victoria Sponge recipe in case you’d like to give it a go. Do you have a Victoria Sponge story or recipe you’d like to share?
*An authentic Victoria Sponge, according to The Women’s Institute
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