With last year’s Royal Wedding, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Wimbledon tennis, and the London 2012 Olympics, Anglo-mania is at an all time high. Everyone is in love with Britain these days, so what better time to share another of the delicious new foods I have discovered since moving to England.
Tea and cake go hand in hand in England, and this, the eponymous Victoria Sponge, is a favourite across the country.
Afternoon tea is said to have been invented during the Victorian era when corsets were too tight for women to eat a proper meal at lunch, leaving ladies famished by mid-afternoon. One of Queen Victoria’s Ladies in Waiting, the Duchess of Bedford, began holding afternoon tea parties for herself and her friends, which included small sandwiches, cakes, assorted sweets, and tea.
Queen Victoria eventually picked up the trend and the rest, as they say, is history. This simple vanilla sponge, filled with jam and sometimes whipped cream, is said to have been a favourite of the Queen, hence the name.
Today was a co-worker’s birthday so I decided to whip up the most English of cakes for her, as you do. This might not be a Victoria Sponge in the strictest definition, featuring homemade hedgerow jelly and vanilla icing in the middle rather than raspberry jam and cream, but it was inspired by the simplicity of Queen Vic’s favourite snack. It was delicious nonetheless!
My most favourite white cake recipe comes courtesy of Kaboose, and is simple and delicious. It would be great with a little bit of lemon zest added in as well.
Victoria Sponge Cake
For the Cake:
- 2 cups (500 mL) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (250 mL) milk
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) vegetable oil
- 2-1/4 teaspoons (11 mL) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup jam of your choice (raspberry is traditional)
- 1 cup vanilla icing, if desired
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan well.
- In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. Don’t overbeat. Pour batter into the prepared baking pans.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean. Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin knife, then turn out onto a rack and peel off the paper. Let cool completely.
- Once cool, trim the rounded top off of one layer of cake – this will be the bottom layer of your cake.
- Spread bottom layer with a generous portion of jam, keeping it back from the edges of the cake as you don’t want it to drip out. If desired, you can add a layer of vanilla icing to the bottom of the top layer before sandwiching the two together.
- Dust the top with icing sugar and enjoy!