The Victoria sandwich may well be the Nation’s all time favourite cake, it is certainly an English classic and my personal favourite!
Made from two round fluffy sponge cakes sandwiched together with raspberry jam. The cake was presumably named after Queen Victoria because of her great affection for it. Queen Victoria is said to have had a very ‘sweet tooth’ and the royal kitchens were kept very busy baking sweet treats.
According to a memoir of Queen Victoria’s private life written by an anonymous author:
‘.. the confectionary cooks are kept busy all year round at Windsor, for wherever the Court may be there must follow a large supply of cakes’. The Private Life of the Queen. By One of Her Majesty’s Servants1897
Now that sounds like me when I’m baking for the tea tent!
Anna Maria Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford and one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, is said to have invented the afternoon tea and certainly by 1885 the Victoria Sandwich was a regular at these events. The Duchess apparently had a habit of getting a little hungry between lunchtime and her very late dinner. She began requesting a tray of tea with bread and butter to be served to her at four o’clock and so the afternoon tea was created! Victoria sandwich, or sponges, were soon all the rage in Victorian society and have now become the measuring stick by which a home baker is judged!
I was taught to bake from the age of four by my mother and the Victoria sandwich was always part of our family teatime. My earliest memory of baking is perched up on the kitchen work surface stirring the cake mixture, trying to ensure I got the spoon and bowl to lick before my brother!
A traditional Victoria Sandwich only contains jam, usually raspberry, but as the cake has become more popular, cream has been introduced. I always serve with just jam with caster sugar sprinkled on top, but again, icing sugar is often used nowadays.
To my delight, as I am a huge Jane Austen fan, the Oxford English Dictionary states that the first recorded use of the word ‘sponge cake’ is by Jane. She used it when writing to her sister Cassandra in 1808. A early recipe for Victoria sponge appears in Mrs Beeton’s 1861 Book of Household Management.
Here is my recipe for Victoria Sandwich which I use in the Dotty tea Tent, it has proved to be a firm favourite with our customers!
Dotty About Cake Victoria Sandwich Recipe
4 free range eggs
225g/8oz self raisng flour
225g/8oz caster sugar
225g/8oz soft butter, plus alittle extra to grease the tins
- Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and flour to the bowl and mix everything together until well combined.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the tins: this doesn’t need to be exact, but you can weigh the filled tins if you want to check
- Place tins in the oven and bake for 24 minutes. After 20 minutes look through the door to check them.
- The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Run a knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
- To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down onto a Vintage cake plate and spread it with plenty of jam. Sprinkle over the caster sugar.