A classic Victoria Sandwich Cake recipe is a must have in every baker’s repertoire. If you haven’t tried making a cake before, this is where you should start. Even experienced bakers go back to this classic sponge cake time and time again and not without good reason. So use my hints and tips to give it a go!
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The Victoria Sponge is similar to what is known as “pound cake” in the US. Basically all the ingredients weigh the same as each other. Its a very versatile sponge. I use is as the base of my Vanilla Butterfly Cakes, Halloween Fairy Cakes and Fiery Ginger Loaf Cake too.
Creaming Method vs All-in-One Method
There are two methods to making sponges. The first is the ‘all-in-one-method’ where all of the ingredients are bunged in at the same time and beaten together. This is the preferred method of Saint Mary Berry and Saint Delia Smith. They are also joined by Nigella Lawson.
More interestingly is Felicity Cloake’s ‘Perfect’ recipe which compares a number of popular recipes and concludes that the creaming method is indeed superior. Who am I to argue with perfect!
Traditionally the only filling in a Victoria Sandwich Cake is pure jam but I find this a bit boring so I add buttercream with the jam. The jam ‘should’ be raspberry but I prefer strawberry. I especially prefer my homemade Smooth Strawberry Jam.
Also traditionally, the sandwich is topped with only caster sugar but again I find this a bit dull so I’ve more buttercream on top with a bit of extra jam swirled in for fun.
The joy of a Victoria Sandwich Cake is that it is a building block for whatever filling, topping or addition your heart desires. I recently used blackcurrant jam and it was a game changer – It looked and tasted gorgeous. I also have a morello cherry chocolate jam that I can’t wait to try.
Unless you are entering a strict Women’s Institute style competition, there is nothing at all wrong with customising a classic recipe to make it your own. Unless we’re talking about my classic scones where I take the exact opposite standpoint.
The Women’s Institute Way
When looking for a WI recipe link to include with my above comments, I came across this video produced by the WI Cookery School which I’ve been to a couple of times.
The decorating starts at around the 11 minute mark. You’ll see the finished cake is not exactly a showstopper! The rest of the video is worth a watch as although some of our techniques do differ (why would you not make 2 sponges in 2 tins Kelly? Why?!), for the most part I agree with many of the slightly controversial suggestions:
- Margarine does indeed make a for a lighter and better textured cake than using butter,
- Curdled eggs are not a disaster at all, and
- I’ve never bothered sieving my flour either.
There are quite a few differences in our technique however:
- I will never be bothered to weigh eggs – if the fat, sugar and flour are each out by 5 or 10g it really doesn’t matter,
- The eggs get bunged straight in the mixture – whisking them first makes no difference (I’ve tried it!),
- I don’t think added vanilla is required,
- I like to add baking powder for a little extra lift to the texture,
- The addition of milk is my preference and I bake the sponge at a slightly lower temp for a little longer as I think this is the trick to a nice moist (sorry!) sponge, and
- I’ll always make 2 sponges over one large one.
- And of course the decoration is different.
The Victoria Sponge Proportions
One of the reasons that a Victoria Sandwich Cake is such a stalwart of the British baking establishment is that the recipe is effectively memorable right off the bat.
The basic rule is that however many eggs you use (lets say 5 for example), you use double the number in ounces of your fat, sugar and flour (so to continue the example; 10oz of each). Sadly this doesn’t really work with metric measurements.
It can only be a good thing to not need to reference the internet or a book when needing to just whip up a sponge cake in a hurry. Of course cooking websites such as this should always be your first port of call otherwise! (Note to self: Don’t talk folk out of googling recipes!).
You can toggle between seeing the recipe in grams and ounces by toggling between “Metric” (grams) and “US Customary” (ounces) in the recipe section below. (By the way – you can do this on all of my recipes except cups are usually used rather than ounces where appropriate).
Make Victoria Sandwich Cake into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
A good slice of cake and a cup of tea is indeed a Feast in itself! But if you combine a Victoria Sponge with little savouries like my Sausage Rolls, throw in some Scones and some other sweets like my Black Forest Poke Cake, Fiery Ginger Loaf Cake and Russian Slices, you have a whole Afternoon Tea Feast on your hands!
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Victoria Sandwich Cake
Please do not be tempted to substitute the butter for margarine in the buttercream part of the recipe. The butter texture is essential to this bit but do make sure the butter is softened before starting the mixing. (There is a vegan option however which I talk about below)
I have swapped between using granulated and caster sugar in this recipe my whole life. I do generally keep caster sugar for baking and granulated for in my tea but you can really use either/or.
One of the most obvious ways to adapt this recipe is to adjust the portion size to 6 people and make 12 cupcakes using a muffin tin filled with paper cake cases. Use the buttercream recipe for the cake to ice the top. You can adjust the recipe quantities in the recipe card below.
As discussed above, the jam is a movable feast. Any of your favourite preserves would work well. Or, if you don’t like it, or don’t have any, just leave it out.
If you are going to be serving the cake quite quickly after filling and icing it, you could use freshly whipped cream instead of the buttercream. The addition of some fresh berries would make it very English garden party, whether using cream or buttercream!
I’ve experimented many times with my Victoria Sandwich recipe over the years. Its the basis for my Fiery Ginger Loaf Cake and I made a chocolate version for many years by removing a tablespoon of flour and replacing it with cocoa powder. Nowadays I actually prefer to make my Chocolate Muscovado Cake instead.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
Like almost all good cake, my Victoria Sandwich Cake is suitable for vegetarians!
Victoria Sponge is relatively easy to make into a vegan cake but as you substitute out the eggs, the texture is a little different. It’s still a really good cake so do give it a go! You will need to make the following substitutions:
- Use a dairy free spread instead of the margarine in the sponge.
- Swap each egg for 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Make sure to whisk each spoon of oil in very thoroughly just as you would with an egg.
- Use a plant based milk or water instead of the milk throughout the recipe.
- Dairy free spread will not make great buttercream so make sure to substitute the butter with baking block. You need the harder texture for the buttercream to hold. I would also add a little vanilla extract as you will be missing the flavour of the butter and it may be a little bland otherwise.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This Victoria Sponge recipe is free from nuts.
Dairy Free: Follow the instructions for the vegan substitutions but don’t swap the egg.
Egg Free: Swap each egg for 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Make sure to whisk each spoon of oil in very thoroughly just as you would with an egg.
Gluten Free: Use a gluten free flour instead of the self raising flour. Use a flour with added raising agent otherwise add additional gluten free baking powder. And obviously ensure that the baking power you use either way is gluten free. The finished texture will be slightly different but still good.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Victoria Sandwich Cake
It is perfectly possible to make cakes with a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon. This is still an absolutely valid way of doing it, especially for beginners. But you will get a lighter sponge with electrical assistance and the buttercream will really thank you.
A 10oz/280g mixture makes a lovely deep cake in two 8″/20cm cake tins. Using two 9″/23cm cake tins for this amount of mixture still makes a decent depth cake but it will cut into more slices. Bear in mind that the buttercream and jam will also be spread thinner to cover the larger area. You might want to consider increasing the buttercream quantities by at least 25%.
To see more of my recommended equipment items for new bakers, have a look at my post featuring all the essential equipment you might need.
It is also perfect inspiration for gifts for a budding baker in your life!
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
Victoria sponge cake freezes amazingly well. Many professional cake makers will bake their sponges in advance and then defrost and decorate right before serving. I think this is a great tip for the home cook too. You need to make sure that you wrap your sponges in cling film really really well and only wrap them once 100% cool.
The other option is to freeze the cake once it is decorated. It feels a little wrong but you can totally make and decorate the cake then freeze it whole or in slices. Do exactly the same wrapping wise as with the sponges. I would leave it in the fridge for a little while first to make sure that the filling and icing are set up.
Leftover Victoria Sandwich Cake
If you haven’t scoffed the lot, or more importantly, don’t think that you’re going to get through it in a couple of days, consider freezing the remainder following the above instructions.
If my sponge is heading towards slightly stale, I quite often give it a 15 second blast in the microwave but then I rather like hot sponge and slightly melted buttercream. I appreciate that might not be to everyone’s taste!
There are loads of ways to use up stale sponge. A classic idea is to use it as the base for a trifle. There isn’t a stale cake in the world that a good soaking of booze can’t revive! (It might be a good idea to scrape out the buttercream and jam first though!)
The absolute best idea is to use stale sponge to make my perennially popular Russian Slice. More booze is involved and I therefore rest my case!
Victoria Sandwich Cake Tips
The mixture will likely split as you add the eggs. Do not panic, do not start again, do not weep gently. Keep whisking, it turns out that it really doesn’t matter!
Don’t use an electric mixer to combine the flour as the gluten in the flour will overwork and your cake sponge will turn out tough.
‘Done’ will be when the sponges are light golden brown on top and a skewer poked into the middle of the sponge comes out with only crumbs stuck and no liquid batter. I don’t condone overcooking as the cake will be dry but on this occasion, ‘actually cooked’ should be aimed for.
Serve in great hunking slices with a cup of tea. In a cup and saucer (obvs).
Look I have to admit that I generally eat a good portion of the cake batter straight from the mixing bowl every time I make a cake. If this is also your proclivity, consider upping the ingredient quantities for the sponge. I have no shame or regrets. Nor should you!
Oh, and I also love salted potato sticks dipped in leftover buttercream. Try it!
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Simple Sweet Bakes
Victoria Sandwich Cake
- 280 g Margarine
- 280 g Caster Sugar (Superfine Sugar)
- 5 Egg
- 4 tbsp Milk
- 1 tbsp Baking Powder
- 280 g Self Raising Flour (Self-Rising)
- Preheat the oven to 160c or the equivalent.
- Line 2 cake tins with liners or butter and flour the tins.
Make the Sponge
- Weigh 280g Margarine and 280g Caster Sugar into a large mixing bowl.
- Beat together until light and creamy.
- Add the first of 5 Eggs.
- Give the batter a good whisk between each egg addition.
- Add the next egg and repeat until all the eggs have been added. Don’t worry when it starts to look a bit ugly – just keep beating it!
- Add 4 tbsp Milk and whisk to combine.
- Add 1 tbsp Baking Powder and 280g Self Raising Flour.
- Fold this into the batter by hand until just combined.
- Split the mixture between the two tins and spread out to even layers.
- Bake for 20 minutes then check if it is done by inserting a skewer into the centre. if it comes out clean, it is cooked. Give the cakes another couple of minutes then check until it is done.
- Leave the sponges to cool on a rack. Leave them in the tin at first unless you used liners in which case it should be easy to lift them out still in the paper and onto the rack.
- Wait until the sponges are totally cold before filling and icing.
Make the Buttercream & Assemble
- Make the buttercream by sieving 320g Icing Sugar into a large bowl and adding 160g Butter with 2 tbsp Milk. Whisk for 5 or so minutes until it is light and fluffy.
- Lay the flattest of the two sponges onto your presentation plate. If you have a large dome, simply slice it off to to make a flat base.
- Spread half of the buttercream over that sponge. I like to gently dollop the mixture on….
- …before flattening it out and pushing towards the edges. Make sure it is relatively evenly spread and just shy of the edges. If you go all the way to the edge, it will spurt out everywhere!
- Spread 150g Strawberry Jam over the second half of the sponge or on top of the buttercream. You can go a bit closer to the edge this time as there should be less splurging.
- Put the jam covered sponge on top of the buttercream sponge and give it a gentle press together.
- Repeat the buttercreaming procedure over the top half of the cake.
- Spoon 50g Jam over the top of the buttercream in small dollops.
- Use the wrong end of a spoon, or your finger to swirl the jam into the buttercream
- Serve in great hunking slices with a cup of tea. In a cup and saucer obviously!