A classic Victoria sponge: light, tender, buttery cake sandwiching a tangy-sweet layer of raspberry jam and buttercream.
Don’t tell any of them in the WI, but I filled the sponge with homemade raspberry honey lemongrass jam. You can of course use any raspberry jam you want–perhaps choose one which isn’t overly sweet so it balances the buttercream and sponge. I feel raspberry desserts are best when you have the bright, slightly tart fruit commingling with another soft and gentle vanilla-sweet element. But it’s your cake, so do it how you like.
One thing: you’ll need scales for this recipe, ideally digital, but I have winged it with mechanical. You weigh the egg in its shell, then use the same weight each of butter, sugar, and flour, ensuring a perfect cake each time. (But if you don’t have any scales and are set on making this cake, get familiar with egg sizes in your country, this page of conversions, and doing some maths.)
A standard 8 inch sandwich cake isn’t exactly a huge amount, particularly as this cake doesn’t have much frosting, but a 4 inch sandwich is still much more comfortable for my household to finish while still soft and fresh. I’ve linked the original recipe below if you want larger amounts, so you can please yourself about making enough cake to suit your appetite.
This is the dreamiest thing to make for a little tea party. If, like me, you find yourself eating cake alone, this is the best thing to have at any time of day. Of all the cakes I’ve made so far, this is the one I’ve eaten the fastest.
4-INCH VICTORIA SPONGE
This makes a 10 cm/4 inch sandwich cake, yielding 4 – 6 smallish slices. You can also get 6 cupcakes out of this.
Keeps well for 3 days at room temperature, very well wrapped in foil/clingfilm. If making in advance, sprinkle with sugar just before serving.
Adapted from the perfect Victoria sponge recipe. (The original recipe yields a full-size 21 cm/8 inch sandwich cake, serving 8 – 10.)
I also like this just with some fresh whipped cream instead of buttercream, though I think you’d want to eat that on the day of making.
For reference, UK large eggs weigh between 63g – 73g. I winged it with mechanical scales and it was fine. If your egg weighs 73g in its shell, measure out 73g of butter, 73g of sugar, etc etc.
for the cake:
1 UK large egg, weighed in its shell
The same weight each of soft lightly salted butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp fine salt
1 – 2 tsp milk, more if needed
for the buttercream:
25g/1 3/4 tbsp lightly salted butter, softened
50g icing sugar, sifted if necessary
1 tbsp double cream or 1 tsp full-fat milk (cream gives a richer finish)
Pinch of salt
A little lemon zest (optional)
for the filling & topping:
2 tbsp raspberry honey lemongrass preserves (recipe), or any raspberry jam you want. I also love plum jam.
Caster sugar, to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/160 fan (350 degrees F). Grease and line the bottoms of 2 x 10 cm/4 inch cake tins.
Make the cake layers. Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a small-medium bowl. It should become so light and fluffy that it’s mousse-like and paler in colour–a good few minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (No mixer? Cream by hand with a fork!)
Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to the creamed butter a little at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl down again to ensure everything is thoroughly combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt by hand, then stir in just enough milk, teaspoon by teaspoon, so the mixture drops easily off a spoon in a plush dollop.
Divide evenly between the tins, smooth the tops and bake for 15 – 20 minutes (do check at the earlier time) until golden and well risen, with a cake tester coming out totally clean from the middle.
Cool cakes in the tin for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, flattest-side down, to cool completely–probably another hour or so at room temperature, or 20 – 30 minutes in the fridge.
Make the buttercream by hand with a fork (the amounts are much too scanty to bother with a mixer). In a small mixing bowl, beat the soft butter a little, just to ensure it’s pliable. Beat in the sifted icing sugar half a time, working the mixture until smooth and completely combined.
Mix in the double cream (or milk), salt, and lemon zest, if using, until airy and creamy. Taste, adding more salt, sugar, or cream as necessary. You want this to have a rounded sweetness. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the cake.
Prepare jam: If using raspberry honey lemongrass jam, remove any lemongrass pieces before proceeding. You can sieve the preserves if you want it smooth and seedless. It may be easier to gently heat preserves until just runny before sieving; allow to cool before proceeding, chilling briefly to quickly re-thicken preserve if needed.
To assemble the cake, set your least favoured cake layer on a plate or stand and spread generously with raspberry preserves, leaving just a small margin round the edges so it doesn’t ooze out under everything else. Spoon over a layer of buttercream, then centre the second cake on top, flattest side-down.
Just before serving, sprinkle come caster sugar on top. If you want neat slices, let the cake sit for about 10 minutes before serving (in the fridge, if the weather’s warm), but it doesn’t matter too much: eat up!