The Victoria Sandwich consists of two sponge cake layers sandwiched together with raspberry jam and cream, then dusted on top with confectioners’ sugar.
This teatime treat became popular in England and Ireland during the reign of Queen Victoria, whose name this cake now bears. Originally caster sugar was sprinkled on top, but I prefer to use finer confectioner’s sugar.
Being a quintessential English cake you may ask why I am sharing this recipe on my Irish blog. Much of Ireland’s favorite cakes and recipes were first created in England, but cooked throughout Ireland in the days of regal homes and land holding gentry.
Remember Irish girls were the back bone of the work force in many grand English and Irish homes in days gone by. They cooked and baked with finesse in these busy kitchens, and when they visited their Irish relatives they brought these wonderful recipes home with them.
No surprise, based on this cake’s name, that it is said to have been Queen Victoria’s favorite cake, and has now become a baking classic.
However, this cake did not start off as an afternoon tea treat for English ladies and gentlemen. It was in fact invented for nursery tea time.
Afternoon tea cakes at the turn of the 19th century usually contained fruits and seeds. This, more easy to chew sponge, cake was created for safety reasons for little ones to enjoy. Less chance of choking on a plain old sponge.
Perhaps Queen Victoria first tasted this delight in the palace nursery – she did have a big family after all. Then, once the queen herself started enjoying this butter sponge, it became a classic Victorian era afternoon treat.
And remember this is a perfect party cake – full of spongy goodness. This recipe is my family’s go-to cake for birthday celebrations.
Traditionally it is served sandwiched with jam and fresh whipped cream, but buttercream frosting is a perfect pairing, opening up many possibilities for decorating.
This versatile cake also makes a super-simple, yet tasty wedding cake.
Ingredients for a Victoria Sponge Sandwich:
Today, I’m going to share my basic traditional Victoria Sandwich Sponge recipe. Previously I shared my recipe for an Irish Sponge Cake, which is a butter free and slightly lighter sponge cake, made with just eggs, sugar and flour.
Ingredients for a traditional Victoria Sandwich are also simple and wholesome – eggs, flour, sugar, and butter. When I baked with my mother as a child we would always decide our ingredient ratio like this….
Depending on the size of the sandwich trays, that translated to 8 oz of butter, 8 oz of sugar, 4 eggs and 8 oz of flour, for a 7- or 8-inch round baking tray. For baking trays of 6 inch diameter or less, our recipe called for 6 oz butter, 6 oz of sugar, 3 eggs and 6 oz of flour.
I still remember the ratios to this very day, but my challenge in America is to convert this ratio to cups. Then, to confuse me even more, Ireland switched to the metric system and my straightforward 8:8:4:8 got turned upside down with all those grams and kilograms.
But fear not, I’ve worked out my measurements for baking success in America and I’ve included both an American and European printable recipe at the bottom of this post.
In days gone by cooks would actually weigh the eggs they used. Since eggs were available straight from the chicken coop or hen house, they came in many sizes. The 8:8:4:8 ratio would call for 4 ounces of eggs, which might be 3 or 4 depending on how big the eggs were. In today’s modern grocery stores our eggs are pretty uniform in size so there’s no need to weigh them.
Now, for American bakers I highly recommend using cake flour for a Victoria sandwich. It’s a far finer flour with less protein content than regular all-purpose flour. Cake flour is the answer for light and airy sponge cakes.
Update February 2020 – Readers who have used all-purpose flour have reported poor outcomes in the comment section. So I am adding a new recommendation to only use cake flour.
Do NOT use American all-purpose flour.
Cake flour is recommended.
And so without further ado, here’s what you need for a Victoria sponge cake. You’ll find exact amounts in the printable recipe, where you can choose between US and Metric measurements.
- cake flour
- baking powder
- pinch of salt
- whole milk
- heavy whipping cream
- confectioners’ sugar
- raspberry jam
Directions for Baking a Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake:
First things first, you’ll need to turn on the oven so that it’ll be nice and hot when you’re ready to pop your cakes in to bake. Preheat the oven to 375° F or 190° C.
And always prepare your baking tins or pans before getting started. For any cake that needs to rise in the oven no time can be wasted between the time the wet ingredients meet the dry. So always have those pans ready and waiting.
My recipe calls for two 8-inch round baking pans. Grease the bottom and sides with butter, and then cut out a parchment paper circle to cover the bottom of the pans. I even add a little more butter on top of the parchment paper to ensure they easily lift of the baked cake surface.
If you don’t have any parchment paper, then dust the buttered pan with a little flour.
Next, prepare the dry ingredients. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and pinch of salt together.
In Ireland I use regular self rising flour, but in America I add baking powder to cake flour since I have never found self-rising cake flour in any f the states where I have lived.
Remember sifting the flour adds extra air and lightness to the finished sponge.
Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
The butter will turn a much lighter shade of pale as you beat it and whip some air into it. Do not rush this step. It takes quite a bit of beating to achieve a light, fluffy texture.
When I was a school girl in Dublin learning home economics, we had no electric mixers in the classroom. We had to beat the butter and sugar together using a wooden spoon. Can’t you just hear me telling my kids about how tough it was in the “old days.”
Every time my teacher peered into my mixing bowl I would say a little prayer the butter was creamed enough. A shake of the head meant that butter needed a lot more beating and arm muscle aches were definitely in store.
Add the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour.
Mix on low speed to avoid curdling the eggs.
Next, add half of the flour with a tablespoon of milk and fold into the butter mixture with a spatula.
Repeat with the remainder of the flour.
Be very gentle with the batter as you fold in the flour.
Divide the batter between the two baking pans and smooth the surface with a spatula or the back of the spoon.
I always shape a little hollow in the center of the sponges, to prevent them from rising in a peak in the middle of the cake. Victoria sandwiches always have a flat upper surface.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 18 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the baking trays.
Next, turn the sponge cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
When at room temperature place one half of the sponge, top-side-down, onto a serving plate.
Spread the raspberry jam over the surface.
Whip the heavy cream with two tablespoons of the confectioners’ sugar (or less if you don’t like sweet cream.) Spread the cream over the jam.
Place the second sponge layer on top of the cream. Dust the top with sifted confectioners’ sugar.
And voilà , there you have it, a deliciously light and luscious, jam and cream sponge sandwich cake.
Enjoy with your favorite cup of afternoon tea, a cup of joe, or as my kids like it, with a class of cold milk.
The printable recipes follow…
Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake Printable Recipe:
Here’s the printable recipe. Remember cake flour is the best for this cake, if you want an authentically Irish or English texture to your light and airy sponge cake.
Just after the ingredient list you can tab between US or Metric measurements.
Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake
- 1 cup butter 2 sticks
- 1⅛ cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups cake flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup raspberry jam
- Prepare two 8 inch round baking pans by greasing the surface with butter and lining the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add one egg at a time with a spoon of flour to the butter mixture and mix together on a low speed.
- Add half of the remaining flour with half the milk and gently mix the batter with a spatula. Repeat with the remainder of the flour.
- Divide the batter equally between the prepared baking pans. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven until the cakes are risen and golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and set the baking trays to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. When slightly cooled turn each sponge out onto the wire rack to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper liners from the lower surface of the sponges.
- Whip the heavy cream with two tablespoons of confectioner's sugar until thickened.
- When the sponge cakes are cooled completely place one cake half on a cake dish. Spread the upper surface with raspberry jam.
- Cover the jam with the whipped cream and place the other cake half on top.
- Dust the top with the remainder of the confectioner's sugar.
Happy baking everyone.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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