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A SPONGE FIT FOR ROYALTY

The History of the Victoria sponge cake.




Before I give you the recipe for one of my all-time favourite cakes, the first cake I ever baked not from a box might I add, I thought you might like to read a little of its history. I am no historian so this is just the history as I understand and learned it but I hope you find it interesting nonetheless!


The Victoria Sponge cake is aptly named after one of Britain’s longest reigning monarchs (after our beloved Queen Elizabeth II that is), Queen Victoria I (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819–22 January 1901). Aside from being one of Britain's more well-known monarchs Queen Victoria was known for her sweet tooth, as reported by the official royal family website, she “regularly ate a slice of sponge cake with her tea, each afternoon.”


Queen Victoria regularly ate a slice of sponge cake with her tea, each afternoon.

Introduced and popularized in the 19th century by Anne Russell the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Queen Victoria started taking afternoon tea with a selection of small cakes and sandwiches before the evening meal, then traditionally served around 8 or 9 PM, (then called high tea) to stave off the feeling of hunger felt between luncheon and that late tea time. This is why most Brits call the evening meal tea instead of dinner and all of our meal times were back then served with tea. This is where the modern-day Victoria Sponge Cake was born.


Although we can place the origin for the basic sponge cake recipe in a recipe book titled The English Huswife by Gervase Markham in 1615, there were many different sponge cake recipes popping up across Europe during the Renaissance period. The sponge cake really got its sponge-like texture and name after the invention of baking powder in 1843. The baking powder gave those flatter almost biscuity cakes the ability to rise to the occasion as it were and form the lighter, airy texture Queen Victoria and the rest of Britain and Europe came to adore.



This British Monarch certainly had a sweet tooth and was said to enjoy a vast variety of sweet treats with her Afternoon Tea including petit fours, various chocolate and plain sponges, biscuits, wafers, and almond sweets, just to name a few. Despite all of the options, this simple little sandwich cake reigned supreme (pun intended) on her tea table. Traditionally served the way the Queen loved most with raspberry jam and cream or buttercream, I prefer the latter, sandwiched between two vanilla sponges with icing sugar sifted on top. This is what we have come to commonly recognise as The Victoria Sponge Cake, and what a glorious little cake it is! Still beloved today and used for any and all occasions in Britain why don't you have a go at make one yourself and see what all the fuss is about?


Go bake stuff!

- Imi


 


Recipe

225g

caster or fine-granulated

225g

butter at room temperature, plus a little extra to grease the tins

4

free range eggs

1/2 tsp

good quality vanilla extract

225g

self-raising flour

2 tsp

baking powder

1/4 tsp

salt

For the buttercream:

​150g

softened butter

220g

icing sugar

1/2 tsp

vanilla extract or 1/3 vanilla pod

For the whipped cream option:

150 ml

double/heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp

icing sugar

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease and line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake tins.


Step 2

Add sugar and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together until light in color and fully combined. You can do this by hand in a mixing bowl using the back of a large spoon to cream the butter and sugar together but be prepared for an arm workout! Add eggs, one at a time, beating briefly after each addition to make sure they are combined. Mix in vanilla.


Step 3

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Be mindful of over-mixing. Pour batter evenly into the prepared cake pan.


Step 4

Bake in the preheated oven until the top springs back when lightly touched and a skewer comes out clean 30 to 35 minutes depending on your oven.


Step 5

Remove from the oven, remove from tins, and cool completely.


Step 6

While the cakes cool make the buttercream or whip up some double cream/heavy whipping cream if you aren't a fan of traditional buttercream. Add softened butter to a bowl and whip up with a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Gradually add the icing (powdered) sugar until you have a smooth consistency. Add vanilla mix until combined.


For the whipped cream variation: Whip up cream and icing sugar until stiff peaks form.


Step 7

Assemble the cake. Decide which cake will go on the bottom and spread or pipe a thick layer of buttercream onto the flat side of the cake. Then spread a generous helping of jam on top of the buttercream. For the whipped cream option, I usually spread the jam first. Place the other cake on top and press down lightly, dust with icing sugar, and enjoy with a good cuppa!





 

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