Follow the ultimate Victoria sponge recipe below for a perfect dessert made with simple ingredients, including the quintessential raspberry jam, from RHS Great British Village Show. This most British of cakes was a Victorian invention, so good they named it after the Queen Empress herself. The Victoria sponge cake is a classic test of the home baker’s skill as there really is nowhere to hide.
For insider tips and judges' secrets, don't miss the prize-winning points below the recipe!
175g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
175g (6oz) caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g (4oz) raspberry jam
2 x 18cm (7in) round cake tins
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease the tins, and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
2. Whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla, if using.
3. Sift together the flour and baking powder into the bowl. With a metal spoon, gently fold the flour into the mixture until completely combined.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and smooth the tops with palette knife. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen. Test the sponges by inserting a metal skewer into their centres: they are cooked if the skewer comes out clean.
5. Leave the sponges to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out. Remove the baking parchment and transfer the layers to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Spread the jam over the top of the bottom layer, spreading right to the edges of the sponge. Carefully place the second sponge onto the first, lining up the edges, and lightly sprinkle the top of the cake with caster sugar.
Here are some insider tips from the Great British Village Show – what will please and peeve the judges, and how to make your cake a prize winner.
Victoria sandwiches for showing should not be iced or filled with cream or buttercream. Do not be mean with the jam, but there should not be so much that it drips down the sides. Some schedules stipulate paper plates, otherwise choose a flat white plate slightly bigger than the cake.
The top of the cake should be smooth, without bubbles, baked to a light golden colour, and decorated with caster sugar. The layers must be evenly risen and equal in depth, and the edges and sides must be smooth and undamaged.
The sponge ought to have a light, open texture but without any large air bubbles, and above all must not be dry. A delicate flavour is desirable, with no overpowering taste.
For matching layers, weigh the tins before baking to check the cake mix is evenly divided. Turn sponges out the right way to avoid marks from the cooling rack, and wait till they are cold before spreading the jam or it will seep into the cake.
Enter a world of tents, tea, and terrifically good jam with RHS Great British Village Show. Written by Thane Prince and Matthew Biggs, and with a foreword by Alan Titchmarsh, this is the only guide to a unique British tradition. Every year, hundreds of country shows and fairs take place across the UK. Celebrate this tradition and step behind the scenes of the British country show with insider facts and beautiful photographs that show you every aspect of preparing, presenting, and prize-winning on the big day.