Victoria Sponge Cake

PBS aired four seasons of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) series some time ago and also licensed it to Netflix.  The series in the USA is known as The Great British Baking Show.  I recently discovered it on Netflix.

After I watched the first episode on Netflix, I was hooked.  I binge- watched all four seasons every opportunity I had.  I really wish all of the seasons of the show were on Netflix.  I love the show, the two judges, and two hosts.

Twelve home bakers are judged by Mary Berry, a lovely lady who has written many cookbooks and Paul Hollywood, a professional baker and cookbook author also.  The two hosts are Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroye who are really funny yet will offer emotional support to the contestants when baking mishaps occur.

There are three challenges the bakers face: Signature Bake, Technical Bake and the Showstopper.  These are not easy baking tasks. The Technical Bake is either a recipe from Mary or Paul.  It also  determines who the star baker is for the week.  Unfortunately, when that is announced the person that must go home is also revealed.

After watching the shows, it made me want to bake.  However, most of the Technical Bakes were too difficult for me to even think about baking.  The only two recipes I considered were Mary Berry’s Frosted Walnut Layer Cake and her Victoria Sandwich.  I baked the Frosted Walnut Layer Cake and it turned out fairly good.

I also baked her Victoria Sandwich (Victoria Sponge Cake) which is the recipe for this post.  Mary’s recipe for Victoria Sandwich is in her cookbook Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.  I purchased the iBook version of her book.  The recipe the contestants had to use for The GBBO can be found on the PBS web site.  It required the contestants to make the cake, raspberry jam from scratch, and a buttercream filling.  The bakers only had 1 1/2 hours to complete the finished cake.

The cake itself is fairly easy to make.  Converting the weight of the ingredients to American measurements took some research.  I have long had a kitchen scale, so after I measured the ingredients, I weighed them.  I made the cake two times.  The first time I used all purpose flour and US butter such as Land O’Lakes.  The second time I used cake flour and Kerrygold butter (an Irish butter).  I believe the cake flour and Kerrygold butter made for a lighter cake.  I also used the creaming method for butter and sugar rather than Mary’s all in one method.  Also, the first time I made the cake I made it with the buttercream filling.  For the recipe in this post, I used whipped cream.

The first published recipe for the Victoria Sandwich was in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management in 1861.  The recipe shows four ingredients: eggs, sugar, butter, and flour all of equal measurements.  Gutenberg has a free digital version of the book available for download in several formats.  Amazon also has a free digital version available for the Kindle.

The Victoria Sponge Cake may have been Queen Victoria’s favorite cake.  Anna, the Duchess of Bedford is credited with introducing it to Queen Victoria.  Make the cake and you may feel the need to have a cup of tea and watch The GBBO on Netflix.

Victoria Sponge Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Sponge

2 cups Cake Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted softened butter, cut into small cubes (plus extra for greasing)
1-3 tablespoons milk, as needed

For the Filling

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped and sweetened to taste
1/2 – 1 cup raspberry jam

raspberries for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Use a little butter to grease two 8 inch cake pans.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.  Lightly grease the parchment paper and then set the pans aside.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium size bowl.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  Next beat in the eggs one at a time.  Mix on low speed.  If the butter mixture starts to curdle, add a spoonful or two of flour.  Use a spatula to gently fold in the rest of the flour mixture.  Use a little bit of the milk if needed to loosen the mixture.

The finished mixture should be of a soft “dropping” consistency.  Use a spatula, to divide the batter evenly between the cake pans.  With the spatula, gently smooth the surface of the cakes.

Place the pans on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  The cakes should also spring back when very lightly touched in the center.

Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans set on a wire rack.  Then turn out the cakes on wire racks to cool completely.  Peel off the parchment paper and discard.

To Assemble

Choose the cake layer with the best top.  Then, put the other cake top-down on to a serving plate.  Spread with the jam.   Spoon the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.  Pipe the whipped cream on top of the jam (or spread with a spatula).  Then add the second layer and sprinkle with powdered sugar.   

Notes:
1.  Season 4 of The GBBO currently on Netflix is actually Season 7 on the BBC.
2.  Mary’s recipe calls for “self-raising” flour.  While we do have “self-rising” flour in the USA, I don’t think it is commonly used for cakes.  It is used a lot in Southern cooking, especially for biscuits.
3.  Kerrygold butter appears to be readily available.  It is at the two supermarkets I shop at and also at my local Walmart.  Your favorite brand of butter can also be used.

Here is a YouTube link where Mary Berry is making her Victoria Sandwich, using the all in one method.

 

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