Monday, 15 July 2013

Recipe: Mummy's Classic Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake

As well as sharing the recipe for what has to be the most popular cake in our house, today I want to talk about food blogger pressure. First week back in England, I had a simply terrible day in the kitchen. Basically the only thing that went right was the final blast at my Lavender Vodka Lemonade. I got really stressed out, and while at the time I put it up to being in a kitchen I have not cooked in for a long while and being out of practice, now I've had a week or so to calm down a bit, I've realised it was something else. The problem with the internet; all these food blogs, Pinterest is it puts people who post their recipes online under so much pressure to perform. It was okay in the days when there were just cooking shows and professionally put together magazines and cookbooks to aspire to, because it was okay for the rest of us not to have to produce creations up to their standard. But food bloggers, while many of them are actually trained chefs, food photographers and stylists, too many of them are just like you and me. There is just too much pressure to product the best photos, best looking bake that we forget all about the actual food. 
So, why have I chosen to talk about this in the introduction to a Victoria Sponge Sandwich recipe? I actually have something to admit here. While some of the recipes on this blog, such as my Hot King Prawns In Garlic Butter and my Easy Lunchtime Bruchetta are collaborations that I have put together with my Father, the only hand I had in baking the cake you see before you is I measured out the flour. I don't feel guilty sharing it with you, as it is super easy and delicious, as I have made it for countless family afternoon teas with just the three of us, or for friends or for big family events countless times before. The reason my Mummy baked this cake in the photo and not me? Because I felt I need to step back and remember that baking is something I can actually do, regardless of whose kitchen I'm in, and remember why I cook and bake in the first place, and stop worrying about how many times a particular recipe may get Tweeted, shared or Repinned. I also don't feel guilty that she baked it because it is her own recipe. Well, it is pretty similar to many other traditional recipes out there, because it is how she has always made it.

  • 170g (6 oz) Self Raising Flour
  • 170g (6 oz) Caster (Granulated) Sugar
  • 170g (6 oz) Margarine 
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • Hot Water
  • 110 g (4 oz) Icing Sugar (Confectioners Sugar)
  • 55g (2 oz) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
  • Vanilla Extract 
  • Homemade or Bonne Maman Raspberry Jam

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (355 Fahrenheit). Lightly grease two 6 1/2 inch sandwich tins with a little butter or margarine and place a small circle of baking parchment in the bottom of each one. I know this might fall on deaf ears, but my American readers, please I implore of you not to use cooking spray. It may be safe to eat, but it does not necessarily mean you should. Beat together the caster sugar and margarine until it is all combined and it has lightened in colour. Whisk the eggs together in a jug and gradually, bit my bit beat the beaten eggs into the sugar and margarine until the mixture is smooth. If it looks like it may have curdled (how milk looks like when it has gone off), don't panic. Just add a teaspoon of your measured out flour and it should come good. Add a splash of vanilla. Sieve the flour into the bowl and fold it into the mixture. Folding is essentially drawing the spoon down the middle of the bowl as if cutting the mixture, and bringing it, scooping mixture up around the edge of the bowl up to the top again, then repeating until all the flour is combined. Doing this instead of just mixing the flour in ensures the air from beating stays in your cake so you will achieve the lightest sponge as possible. Equally divide the cake mix between the two tins, using a spatula to make sure the tops are even and flat (so you have an even bake) and all the mixture is pushed right to the edge of your tin. Tap each tin firmly on your work surface a few times to make sure you have no air bubbles. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The tops should be golden brown, spring back lightly to the touch and you should be able to insert a cake tester or a cocktail stick into your sponge and it to come away clean. So your sponge does not sink when it is coming out the oven make sure all your kitchen doors are closed so you can keep a constant temperature until the cake is out of its tin. As soon as you have removed it from the oven gently run a very sharp knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the cake to make sure it does not stick to the sides. The sponge should spring back slightly as it cools. Choose the better looking sponge to be your top. Turn this one out of the tin by placing your hand over the top, turning it upside down, pulling off the tin and the paper and putting it back down on a wire cooling rack, top side up. Place do the dame but place the bottom layer of your sandwich top side down. Allow to cool while you make the butter icing. 

Butter icing is so stupidly simple. Lots of recipes use milk to get it creamier, but by omitting it your cake will last longer, and you should not really need it if you are using really good quality butter. Your butter needs to be room temperature  and all you need to do is beat the icing sugar into it with a splash of vanilla until smooth. To fill your cake (I've recommend you do this on the plate or stand you are going to be serving it on) smooth the butter icing almost to the edge of the bottom half (it will spread out when sandwiched) and as much jam as you fancy on the bottom of your lid, then carefully flip and sandwich them together. You can just leave it like that, or you can sprinkle a bit of sugar on top. We personally like to use vanilla sugar. 

Once you've got this cake down you can do practically anything with it; we like it as a family with buttercream and raspberry, but you can use any jam you like, or fresh stiff whipping cream, with jam or fresh berries. Serve with a tall glass of my Lavender Vodka Lemonade or my Summer Iced Tea, and enjoy an extra special afternoon tea! 


  1. I understand completely. Sometimes I feel like I can take 100 photos and they're all abit...blah. It gets frustrating and I think things like pinterest can make us put too much pressure on ourselves. The cake looks delicious as well!

  2. Victoria sponge is a fave of mine! My Mum makes a good one too :) xx

  3. I was thinking about giving the Victoria sponge cake a go yesterday when I intivted my friends for tea, but dealing with a hot oven when it's 30+ degrees outside felt like a pain. I will definitely note this down for the next time though! Looks very moist and delicious.

  4. Hello,

    I wasn't interested in the recipe itself but it's cool to learn something new (I'm French so I've never tasted that cake before). What I appreciated is everything you wrote above the recipe. I think it's good that you took a step back to look at your work (meaning blog) and understood that you shouldn't pressure yourself.

    My only negative critique - and I'm sorry for complaining - is the reading. It's not super easy because of the small size of the letters. Also you don't divide your text in sections much. They are some big pack of paragraphs that can easily separated.
    And this last part is the most important one (the size of the typo is not so bad). You don't need to put a gap in between each paragraphs, you can just start a new line. In French we say : it give air to / ventilate the text, which don't make sense in English I suppose. But it means that your text is more "fluid". Thing of it has a software that you want it to be user friendly.

    Again, sorry for complaining (and for my English !!!).

    Best regards.


  5. Totally expect this to be fed to me next time I come and visit.

  6. This is a favourite in our household too. I often find the simpler the better and this looks beautiful!

  7. I know exactly what you mean about the pressure to get good photos, which can make you forget about the actual food. i've discovered your blog recently, and I love it - the recipes are great. Victoria sponge is my all time favourite :)

  8. I'm glad you like the blog, and I hope you choose to stick around! x

  9. Well, I don't think I have the ingredients to have one ready for you on Saturday, so how about I promise to teach you how to make it instead?! x

  10. Let me know what you think once the weather becomes a bit more suitable! x

  11. Once you find a good Victoria sponge recipe you can do anything with it!

    Maria xxxx

  12. I know, right? This makes everything from kids cupcakes to elegant layer cakes!

  13. Ahh Rachel how I wished you had posted this 1 week ago! Victoria sponge is my boyfriend's favourite cake and I had NEVER made it before, and with it being his birthday I felt so much pressure and was so scared of it going wrong i had to get my friend to be in the kitchen with me and ask her silly questions just to reassure myself I was doing the right thing - even though it was the first time ever.

    It may not have turned out the prettiest cake, but my boyfriend loved it and so did all the guests, and that is what matters most really! Will definitely save this recipe for my next attempt at a less collapsed victoria sponge (the top slid off at some point. oops).

    Teffy || Teffys Perks Blog


  14. Good luck next time! If you are having slippage issues, try putting buttercream on the bottom layer and jam on the top before sandwiching them together!

  15. Honestly, being French I don't know why you'd want a classic British Victoria Sponge; I split my time between England and France, and every time I'm in Brittany I'm overwhelmed by all forms of pastries, baking and sweet treats and I never want to eat the ones at home anymore!

    And no problem, I always welcome reader feedback. As for the size of the text, what % screen are you looking at/ what browser do you use, as I've never had anyone with that problem before. As for the spacing, I think it is more of a personal preference and personal styles of blogs. I know what you mean as I read lots of French language blogs, newspapers and sometimes books, but it is more I like it like that as I am a writer above all, and text spaced like that does not bother me too much, though I will keep in mine what it is like for my readers in future.

    Thanks for the feedback, and no problem! And sorry it has taken me a while to write; I don't have much of an internet connection when I'm at my French house!

  16. Hello,

    Thank you for you reply (and sorry for my late response). Not all bloggers answer back. I will make sure to use the zoom tool if needed (though I'm getting use to your style since I came back for vacation).
    As for the cake, as we say in French : "je ne veux pas mourir idiote".

    Best regards.