Victoria Sponge Cake
A classic Victoria sponge can be made ahead of time, and then filled and decorated on site for a glorious, decadent, and portable summer treat. Traditionally, the cake is filled with preserves and dusted with confectioners’ sugar, but in summer, I like to create a much more rococo affair, with jam, whipped cream, and oodles of fresh summer berries.
The following quantities make for a nice deep cake in 7-inch cake pans, or slightly shallower cakes in 8-inch pans. Serves 8 | active time 20 minutes (start to finish: 50 minutes + time to decorate)
Butter or oil for greasing the pans
3/4 cup butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose or cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Hot water as required
1 pint whipping cream + 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar (or canned whipped cream)
1 jar preserves (any type)
1 basket fresh berries
Confectioners’ sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Butter or oil two shallow 7-inch or 8-inch cake pans (see note on quantities above) and line the bottoms with baking parchment.
Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very pale and fluffy, 3–5 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a bowl. Put the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and stir to combine.
Add the egg mixture, a little at a time, to the creamed mixture, beating thoroughly after every addition. If the batter starts to curdle and split, add a tablespoon of the flour and keep beating. If the mixture curdles and you can’t rescue it, don’t worry, it just means your cake won’t rise quite as much.
When the eggs have been fully incorporated, very gently fold in the rest of the flour mixture with a metal spoon or plastic spatula. Be careful when you’re folding to keep as much air in the batter as possible.
Gently fold in a tablespoon or two of hot water as necessary, until the mixture slides easily off a downward-pointing spoon. This is called “dropping consistency” and is the key to a bouncy sponge with an even top. Divide the mixture equally between the two cake pans and smooth out the top with a spatula.
Bake 25–30 minutes if using 8-inch pans (or 30–35 minutes if using 7-inch pans) until your cakes are golden, springy, and starting to pull away from the sides. A fingertip pressed gently on the top of the cake should leave no imprint. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then slide a butter knife around the edges and turn the cakes onto a wire rack to cool.
To finish, place the whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar in a cool metal bowl and whip for 3–5 minutes until it reaches the soft-peak stage. The whipped cream will keep its shape, stored in an airtight box, for about 10 hours — or just use a can of whipped cream.
Sandwich the cakes with jam, whipped cream, and sliced berries. Decorate the top with whipped cream, more berries, and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.