The Victoria Sponge cake is the mainstay of British Baking. It is simple to make, versatile and tastes great. I have made many in my time. My record is an afternoon tea for 60 people! All of the cakes for this party were variations on the basic Victoria Sponge mixture. Today I’m sharing my top tips for baking the perfect Victoria Sponge cake every time:
- Go by the weight of the eggs: Whatever size of cake you are making, weigh the eggs in their shells first, then use this as your magic number. For a Victoria Sponge, you need equal quantities of eggs, sugar, flour and butter. So if 6 eggs weigh 375g, then measure the same quantities of all the other ingredients. I use 6 eggs for a large birthday cake divided between two tins; 4 eggs for 12 cupcakes and 3 eggs for 12 smaller ‘fairy cakes’ (like cupcakes, but more delicate.)
- Use lightly salted butter: Most recipes call for unsalted butter; some say add a pinch of salt. I definitely think the cake needs a little salt for added depth of flavour. Using slightly salted butter will give you the perfect hint of saltiness mixed in with the sweet!
- Add the eggs one at a time: if you try to add them all at once, the mixture will curdle straight away. Beat each egg well before adding the next.
- Don’t panic if the mixture begins to curdle: This can happen, especially with larger cakes as you add the last one or two eggs. If furious beating doesn’t solve the problem, fold in 1 tbsp of the weighed flour then continue to beat.
- Fold in the flour: Never beat the sieved flour into the cake batter. The aim is to keep as much air in the mixture as possible, so fold in the flour using a figure-of-eight motion with your wooden spoon, until the mixture is well-combined.
- Bake to perfection: 170°c fan oven/190°c conventional oven/gas mark 5 for 35-40 minutes for a large cake, 20-25 minutes for cupcakes and 15-20 minutes for fairy cakes. Bake in the centre of the oven. Don’t open the oven door to check how the cake is doing as it will sink in the middle! It is ok to do this at the end of the cooking time, but do it as quickly as possible: test the cake with a skewer in the centre, it will come out clean when the cake is done.
Bearing these pointers in mind, here’s the recipe for a large Victoria Sponge:
- 6 eggs
- Weight of the eggs in self-raising flour.*
- Weight of the eggs in caster sugar.
- Weight of the eggs in slightly salted butter.
- 1 jar good-quality raspberry or strawberry jam (for the filling).
- Icing sugar, to dust the cake at the end.
- Preheat the oven to 170 c.
- Beat the flour and sugar together. I recommend using an electric beater unless you have very strong biceps. If you do a lot of baking, it is a worthwhile investment. When the butter and sugar are well-combined, the mixture should look like the photo.
- Add the eggs one by one, beating as fast as possible between each addition. You will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times to ensure an even mixture.
- Once all of the eggs are mixed in, fold in the sieved flour using a wooden spoon and a figure-of-eight motion until the ingredients are evenly mixed.
- Divide the mixture between two 23cm cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes. If you have to place one cake on a lower shelf, you will need to bake this for another 5-10 minutes at the end. It is better to bake both on the same shelf if they fit!
- Let the cakes cool slightly then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cool, spread a generous layer of jam on top of the bottom cake, then place the other cake on top. Some people like to add cream at this point, but I prefer the traditional recipe using only jam. Usually the base of the cake has a more even surface, so use this for the top of your sandwich!
- Dust the cake with icing sugar and serve as soon as possible, as this cake is best eaten fresh. It will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container but will gradually dry out and not be quite so tasty. Great with a cup of English Tea!
*If you can’t get self-raising flour, use 10g baking powder per 150g plain flour.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe: if you try it, do let me know how it turned out! For the time being, here’s a virtual slice: