A Victoria Sandwich cake is cake at its best: simple good flavours and easy to make.
A Victoria Sandwich isn’t a particularly fashionable cake and it certainly isn’t elaborate. In fact, it’s quite a plain cake, jazzed up with jam and/or buttercream. There are many ‘definitive’ versions, so it’s a case of ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’. Now I’ve joined the WI, I thought I’d take a look at what they say and see how my preferences differ. Suffice to say I probably won’t be winning a prize for mine.
- Caster sugar or icing sugar on top? My mother always used icing sugar, so that’s what I do, but if you prefer some crunch, use caster sugar (the WI preferred option).
- Eggs. What size eggs? Well, that is a whole topic in its own right. I use large eggs for baking and the rule of thumb for a Victoria Sandwich is to weigh the eggs in their shells and use the same weight of butter, sugar and self-raising flour
- What flavour jam? Some say raspberry (the WI), but growing up we always had strawberry, because that’s what Mum made
- Vanilla extract or not? I do because I like vanilla, but only a little in this cake. In this, I do depart from family tradition (and the WI recipe)
- Butter or margarine. Put it like this, one is a natural, whole food that you can make yourself (although after the age of 6 you probably haven’t), the other is a concoction of chemicals and fats that may or may not be good for you
- Buttercream filling or not? For me, this is totally dependent on time and occasion. For tea at home, it’s mostly just jam. If anyone’s coming – and I have a few extra minutes – buttercream makes this a bit more special
- Tins – do you make it one deep one or two shallow ones? I prefer 2 shallow tins because the cakes cook more quickly and more evenly. To be honest with a small cake like this it doesn’t make much difference but, once you’re making a 20cm cake, the centre might be underdone or the edges overdone so I almost always use 2 tins for that.
I suspect that, like most people, my choices are mostly made because of what I’m used to and, of course, what I like. So to anyone who thinks their version is better, you’re probably right – for you it is, but I think mine is the tops. Having said that, I do vary my jam choices a bit. Currently, I’m loving lemon curd with cherry jam.
Once you’ve made a basic Victoria Sandwich, you can make any number of variations, such as Chocolate Cake, Coffee Cake, or Lemon Drizzle Cake, and I’ll be making them all in the next couple of months.
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For a 15cm (6 inch) cake:
- 2 large eggs - weighed
The same weight (approx. 150g) of:
- Caster sugar
- Self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (5ml)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (2.5ml)
- large pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/ 170°C fan/ gas mark 5/ 375°F
- Line the tins with a paper liner. Grease the tins (if they need it) with butter paper (or a little butter on kitchen paper)
For the cake:
- Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly(Butter, caster sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract)
- Evenly divide the mixture between the tins. Smooth the top with a palette knife and make a slight dip in the centre
- Cook for 20-25 minutes until the cake surface springs back when you touch it lightly with your fingertip
- Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack. Leave the paper in place if you don’t intend to fill the cake immediately
- Once the cake is cool, fill with jam or buttercream and sprinkle icing sugar on top.
- Use a splatter guard over your mixing bowl to keep mess to a minimum
- The cakes keep well for up to a week in an airtight box – preferably in the fridge.
- The un-iced cakes can be frozen for up to a month