Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Right Royal Victoria Sponge Cake



For me, there is no sight (or taste) that is more comforting with a good strong cup of tea than a generous wedge of this eggy, sweet and jammy sponge cake.

Said to be named after Queen Victoria in the nineteenth century because she was partial to a slice of it with her afternoon tea, the Victoria sponge has subsequently become a symbol of 'Britishness'. Afternoon tea, parties, special occasions or just something to bake when it's raining you can't go far wrong with it.

There were no street parties near us for the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton and so I decided to mark the occasion by forcing the children to watch it all on TV (for historic prosperity, whilst boring them all with the tale of when I met Kate Middleton's mum) ... and bake this cake.


I have no idea where I got this recipe - it is scrawled in one of my notebooks from years ago - but I've relied on it over and over again and it's my favourite. It contains four eggs, resulting in a rich, yellow-coloured cake and makes use of both jam and buttercream icing. I understand that the cake Queen Victoria used to enjoy was sandwiched only with jam - the buttercream was a later, twentieth-century addition.

So here it is - a right royal Victoria Sponge. And what better way to celebrate the royal wedding - and all that celeb-spotting - than with a fat wedge of this and a good cup of tea. Preferably served by one's Butler.

The Victoria Sponge was named after Queen Victoria, who was fond of a slice with her afternoon tea.  Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Victoria Sponge Recipe

Ingredients
  • 220g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 220g self raising flour
  • about a tablespoon of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • around 6 tablespoons jam of your choice (raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant all work well)
  • Buttercream icing (100g soft unsalted butter beaten with 140g icing sugar)
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 23cm round cake tin. In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. 
  2. Add each egg separately, along with a tablespoon of the flour. Add the rest of the flour, along with the vanilla extract. If the mixture seems too thick after all the eggs have been added, dribble about a tablespoon of milk to make a "dropping" consistency. 
  3. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the top is golden. If the top of the cake is browning a bit too much before the cake is ready, cover with baking foil and return to the oven. Check on it every 10-20 minutes until done.
  4. When the cake is completely cooled (very important!) cut it in half, making two discs. On one disc, spread over the buttercream icing and then the jam. Carefully sandwich the discs together and then sprinkle some icing sugar over the top of the cake just before serving. Don't worry if the icing 'oozes' slightly onto the outsides of the cake - this just adds to the effect! Cut and hand around with Union Jack emblazoned napkins. 
This recipe was previously published on Suite101 for an article I wrote for them on How to Make a Classic Victoria Sponge Cake  in 2010.