This British classic has to be a staple in every baker’s library! Two delicious vanilla flavoured sponge cakes are filled with softly whipped cream and jam and a simple dusting of icing sugar to finish. The Victoria sponge cake has to be one of the most simple but elegant cakes out there, making it a British classic loved the world over. Perfect for afternoon tea or any celebration!
A bit of royal British trivia
As you might suspect, the classic Victoria sponge was named after Queen Victoria herself. However, the tradition of afternoon tea, as we know it today, actually began with Anne Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. You see, back in the 19th century, the evening meal was taken between 8pm and 9pm. The poor Duchess complained of a “sinking feeling” around mid afternoon, so she requested some tea and light food was brought to help her stave off her hunger until the evening meal (or High Tea as it was then called).
Once this became part of her every day, she began inviting friends to partake in enjoying afternoon tea with her. Amongst those she invited to join her was none other than Queen Victoria herself. Once it had been given the royal seal of approval, this new tradition quickly rose in popularity amongst the upper classes, and the tradition of afternoon tea was born.
Queen Victoria was said to have rather a sweet tooth. Biographers have named a whole array of sweet treats she was said to have enjoyed, from cakes, petit fours, biscuits, tablets and many many more. However, this simple vanilla sandwich cake with jam and cream was always a favourite of hers, and so it came to be named after the monarch herself.
And a little extra British baking trivia for you!
Oh, and I love this little extra bit of trivia: on the much-loved baking show the Great British Bake Off, all the ovens are tested every day using a Victoria sandwich cake. This cake serves as the benchmark to ensure all the ovens are working perfectly before the bakers enter the tent. Surely, if you needed any more reason to love this cake, that is it! It truly is the cake of the Great British Bake Off!
What are the ingredients Victoria sponge cake?
- Butter: I use unsalted butter, so I can control the amount of salt in the cake.
- Caster sugar: for sweetness in the Victoria sponge cakes.
- Flour: I use plain/all purpose flour to make this Vic sponge cake. I prefer adding raising agents separately, as I do with salt, so I can control the rise of each of my bakes.
- Baking powder/bicarbonate of soda: the raising agents used in this traditional British bake.
- Salt: enhances the flavour of the bake, but it will not be so much that you taste it in the cake.
- Eggs: gives structure and stability to the Victoria sandwich cakes as they bake.
- Vanilla: used in both the cake and the whipped cream filling. Gives a wonderful flavour to this Victoria sponge cake!
- Yogurt: part of the wet ingredients used for the cake. Keeps it light, moist and tender.
- Strawberry jam: for the filling in this easy Victoria sponge.
- Double cream: whipped up to make the other part of the filling in this cake.
- Icing sugar: used to sweeten the whipped cream filling and for dusting over the cake as a finishing touch.
- Strawberries: I use some additional thinly sliced strawberries in my filling. This is an optional extra, but I love the extra fresh flavour it brings this strawberry Victoria sponge!
What equipment do I need to make this Victoria sponge cake recipe?
- Cake tins*: to bake the cakes in. I use two tins to make this cake rather than one and cutting in half.
- Parchment/baking paper: to line the tins before baking the vanilla cakes in them.
- Digital kitchen scales*: I provide all my measurements in cups, however I would encourage all bakers to weigh out ingredients when baking. A set of digital kitchen scales is so useful and totally an essential baking tool for me.
- Measuring spoons*: a set of measuring spoons is essential for any baker. This is because these are more accurate than using everyday teaspoons and tablespoons, which can vary greatly in size.
- Stand mixer*/Handheld electric mixer*: both useful tools to make life easier in the kitchen! You can, of course, make this whole recipe entirely by hand. But it will be quite the workout for your arm!
- Sieve*: to sift the dry ingredients before mixing in for the Victoria sponge cake.
- Spatula*: to scrape down the bowl with as ingredients are added, ensuring everything mixes together thoroughly. Also useful to scoop out the whipped cream filling for this Victoria sponge with strawberries.
- Jug*: I use a jug to mix together my wet ingredients separately before adding them in with the dry ingredients.
How to make a Victoria sponge
First you will make the vanilla sponge cakes. Then, once the cakes are cool, you will fill the Victoria sponge with cream, whipped with a little vanilla and icing sugar, strawberry jam and some sliced strawberries before topping the whole thing with a generous dusting of icing sugar. Yum!
For the cakes
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 160C/320F. Grease and line two 6″ loose bottomed cake tins, then set these aside whilst making the cake.
Step 2: Beat the butter until soft and paler. Add in the caster sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and beat again until the mixture resembles damp sand.
Step 3: In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the eggs, vanilla and yogurt. Add ¾ the wet mixture in with the flour mixture and beat to combine. The batter will be thick. Tip in the remaining wet mixture and beat again until combined, scraping down the bowl if necessary. Turn the speed up to a medium and beat the cake mixture until lighter and silky.
Step 4: Immediately, divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes. When done, the cakes will be golden and well risen, shrinking slightly from the sides, and a wooden skewer poked in the middle will come out clean or with a few damp crumbs. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the filling and decoration
Step 1: Once the cakes have cooled, prepare the filling. Place the double cream in a large mixing bowl, add in the vanilla and icing sugar and whip until it starts to thicken. Give it a final few turns by hand to thicken to a soft peak and set it aside. Slice the strawberries into about ¼” slices and set aside.
Step 2: Level the bottom cake layer, if required (eat the top as perks of the chef!). Place the bottom layer of cake on your plate or cake stand. Spread the jam evenly over the top of the cake, then gently spread the whipped cream over the top, levelling as much as you can. Place a layer of sliced strawberries over the vanilla whipped cream before topping with the second layer of cake. Dust generously with icing sugar and serve. Enjoy!
How do I line my cake tins?
Place the cake tin on some parchment paper and trace around the base of the tin. Cut out this shape (two times, for two cake layers) and set aside. Melt some butter and use it to brush inside the base of the cake tin. Place the cut out circle of parchment paper on the buttered base and use the brush to flatten and ease it into the corners. Brush a little more butter over the parchment circle and up the sides of the cake tin. The tins are now ready to be used.
How can I tell when my cakes are baked?
You will know when the vanilla sponge cakes are done as they will be firm to touch and will have shrunk away from the sides of the pan slightly. Additionally, a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the cake will come out clean or with one or two crumbs only.
How long does this Victoria sponge cake last? How do I store Victoria sponge with cream?
This cake is best eaten within two days of being made because of the fresh cream and strawberries in it. It can be stored at cool room temperature, but if it is especially warm I would recommend storing it in the fridge so the cream does not spoil. If storing in the fridge, leave the cake out for about 20-30 minutes before serving. This Victoria sponge cake is best enjoyed at room temperature.
How to freeze cake
If you wish to make this cake ahead of time and freeze it, this is not a problem. I would recommend not freezing the assembled Victoria sponge cake, but the individual cake layers instead. Then, when you are ready, you can defrost the layers, whip up the cream, and decorate the cake.
To freeze the cake layers, first make sure they are completely cool. Wrap each layer of cake tightly and securely in cling film, then a layer of tin foil and another tight layer of cling film. You do not want any moisture getting to the cakes, or they will turn out a soggy mess or risk freezer burn, hence thoroughness. Freeze the cakes on a flat surface until frozen before stacking in the freezer.
How to defrost your frozen cake layers
When you are ready to defrost and decorate the Victoria sponge strawberries, simply remove the layers from the freezer and unwrap them. Place each cake in a single layer on a cooling rack, brushing off any remaining ice crystals, and leave to come to room temperature. The cakes are ready to be decorated once defrosted.
Additional tips for making the best Victoria sponge recipe
- Use ingredients at room temperature when making the cake. The reason for this is simple: ingredients all at room temperature will combine better and make for a better bake! The only exception to this rule is the double cream. This is because cream whips up better and more easily when it is cold. Use everything else at room temperature.
- Beat the butter well at the start of making the cake. You want it light and smooth and pale for the best Victoria sponge cake results.
- When beating the cake mixture before baking, make sure to beat at a medium speed. Mixing it too high will result in too much air going into the cakes, leading to it collapsing after rising during baking. You want to incorporate some volume, but not so much that is causes the cake to collapse.
- Make sure the cakes are completely cool before decorating. This is especially important in this bake, as the cream will just melt if the cakes are warm. I make mine the evening before, so they cool completely overnight before being decorated.
- The additional strawberries in the middle layer are totally optional. I love the extra flavour of strawberries, but this can easily be omitted.
If you have any questions about this Victoria sponge cake, please comment below and I will do my best to help. And do remember: if you enjoy this recipe for Victoria sponge, please leave a rating and review below. You could even post a picture on Instagram and tag me when you share it with the world. You already know I would love to see!
More recipes from my blog for you to enjoy
If you enjoyed this cake, please do have a look at these recipes I think you will love too!
Mini Victoria sponge cakes: Light and fluffy vanilla sponge cakes sandwiched with beautiful strawberry jam and delicious vanilla buttercream. So simple but always enjoyed by everyone!
Buttermilk fruit scones: These easy fruit scones are the only fool-proof recipe you will ever need for the most beautiful scones! Perfect fresh out of the oven and still warm or cool and split topped with clotted cream and jam. Or any other way you fancy!
Mini cherry bakewell tarts: Beautiful buttery pastry, rich cherry jam, scrumptious almond frangipane. All topped with a layer of icing and, of course, the obligatory cherry on top!
Thanks for joining me today, my friends. Hope you enjoy this gorgeous traditional cake, and happy baking! x