Named after Queen Victoria, this quintessentially British bake is simplicity at its best; sweet strawberry jam and pillowy soft cream, sandwiched between two light sponge cakes and a dusting of icing sugar.
Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), one of Queen Victoria’s (1819-1901) ladies-in-waiting, is credited as the creator of teatime. Because the noon meal had become skimpier, the Duchess suffered from “a sinking feeling” at about four o’clock in the afternoon. At first the Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and a few bread stuffs into her dressing room.
Adopting the European tea service format, she invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o’clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu centred around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea. This summer practice proved so popular, the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walking the fields. The practise of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses.
Queen Victoria adopted the new craze for tea parties. By 1855, the Queen and her ladies were in formal dress for the afternoon teas. This simple cake was one of the queen’s favourites. After her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, Queen Victoria spend time in retreat at the Queen’s residence (Osborn House) at the Isle of Wight. According to historians, it was here that the Victoria Sponge Cake was named after Queen Victoria.
- 160g unsalted butter, softened
- 160g self-raising flour, sifted
- 160g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100ml double cream
- 125g strawberry jam
- 1 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting
- Pre-heat the oven to gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C. Grease and line 2 x 8 inch (20cm) springform cake tins with nonstick baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla extract and sugar using an electric handheld whisk until light and fluffy. Add the lightly beaten egg a tablespoon at a time, beating well between additions, until fully incorporated. Carefully fold the flour using a large metal spoon and spoon the batter evenly into the two prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cakes. Remove and allow the tins to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning out and peeling away the nonstick baking paper.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks as the cakes cool, then spread the bottom half of the cake with the cream in an even layer. Spread the strawberry jam evenly and carefully on top of the cream. Sandwich the cake with the other half of the cake and transfer it carefully to a serving plate. Dust with the icing sugar and serve.
So put the kettle on and help yourself to a slice or two. Enjoy!