A Very British Cake

13 Jun

Image courtesy of BBC GoodFood

A simple and delicious sponge that is fit for a Queen.

Almost everyone’s first introduction to baking would be the classic sponge cake.   Whether made into fairy cakes, a zesty lemon drizzle or made a little bit sexy with some cocoa powder and chocolate frosting, the sponge cake is the most versatile and widely baked cake in Britain.  Perhaps the most truly ‘British’ version of this simple tea-time treat would be the ‘Victoria Sponge’, and just the thought of this tasty cake brings feelings of nostalgia.

Named after Queen Victoria, the ‘Victoria Sponge’ is traditionally a simple sponge cake made from eggs, flour, fat and sugar, with a generous helping of raspberry jam and whipped double or vanilla cream sandwiched between two sponge layers.  Finished with a dusting of icing sugar, this simple yet delicious cake is a coffee-table staple.

So how did this tasty cake get its name?  During her reign, Queen Victoria and her maids-in waiting enjoyed many tea parties, and this delicious sponge was the Queen’s favourite. A sponge by any other name would taste as sweet, but only a sponge cake with raspberry jam and whipped cream can be called a Victoria Sponge.  The Women’s Institute are also very particular about what it takes to be a Victoria sponge, and their version only has jam and is dusted with caster sugar instead of the more traditional icing sugar.

Even though this very British cake is very simple to make, it is also very easy to go horribly wrong!  With extremely sensitive cooking times and temperatures, the perfect sponge cake is an art that even established bakers can get wrong sometimes.  As such, the Victoria sponge is used by manufacturers to test their new ovens to make sure they work perfectly.  Good news for those who get to eat it afterwards!

Whether you are a traditionalist or like your cakes with something a little bit special, you can’t deny the Victoria Sponge is a perfect treat for any occasion.  It’s so easy to make, so what’s stopping you?  Check out BBC GoodFood for their simple recipe, or Delia Smith’s traditional offering with a few alternative suggestions.


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