How to bake the perfect Victoria sponge – a British mainstay, perfect this and you can bake anything!
For us, we think the Victoria Sponge Cake is the unsung hero of baking. A foundation for many birthday and celebration cakes, this light sponge cake is just right when teamed with the classic cream and jam filling.
Let’s start with the history- The cake’s name should really be The Royal Victoria Sponge, as its name harks back to Queen Victoria herself, who was said to enjoy a slice of the delicious cake with her traditional English afternoon tea. It is on occasion also referred to The Victoria Sandwich, no doubt a reference to the filled nature of the two sponges. The initial reason it was distinguished from a simple sponge was due to the invention of baking powder in 1843. The miracle powder allowed the cake to rise more and was invented by Alfred Bird, an Englishman involved in food manufacturing. The first reference found to these cakes in England dates all the way back to 1615. The cake itself actually originated in Spain (we have a lot to thank them for), and is dated back to the Renaissance era.
A timeless and tired recipe, the skill in baking the perfect victoria sponge is often overlooked.
How to bake the perfect Victoria sponge
If you’re looking for pointers to perfect your sponge, you’ve come to the right place.
Increase your baking powder
As the miracle without which there would be no Victoria sandwich, it stands to reason that baking powder must be the most important ingredient. Indeed, so vital is it in this recipe that almost everyone opts for self-raising flour. Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson tops up her self-raising flour with extra baking powder, to make their sponge extra fluffy and light.
Choose your butter wisely
The jury is out on this one, with rumours that Mary Berry has stated margarine gives a lighter texture. We still prefer classic, unsalted butter, as long as it has been carefully beaten and mixed with a little baking powder, your sponge will remain light and delightful! Nigella adds a little milk to help bring the mixture to just the right dropping consistency, so potentially try that and experiment with your dairy mix.
The traditional sequence of making a Victoria Sponge involves beating together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and then gradually introducing the eggs. This is then followed with folding in of the flour, for a light texture and method that has proven a failsafe over time. Depending on which recipe you are following, whether it’s a hand me down family secret or taken from the latest trending recipe book, the method overall determines the taste of the cake. Some opt for throwing all the ingredients together and mixing, whilst this is a great option for the time poor, it also may alter your overall sponge. Throwing everything together offers a less delicate sponge.
Select your flavourings and toppings wisely
Vanilla essence, icing sugar or caster sugar, it’s all down to preference. Here you can keep with tradition and add raspberry jam (bonus if it’s homemade) paired with buttercream, vanilla paste or if you are really decadent clotted cream, inspired by the cornish scone. We would suggest adding fresh berries for an extra texture and delight!
If you’re feeling less traditional, visit Anges De Sucre, London’s premier bakery for show stopping, wow-factor cakes. Here you will find all the extra decoration inspiration you’ve been looking for, that will completely makeover your classic Victoria Sponge. Edible flowers? Gold? Oreos? Why not! Your imagination is the limit!