Nothing feels as indulgent or tastes as delicious as a delectable slice of strawberry Victoria sponge cake. Something about those layers of light, fluffy sponge sandwiched with sweet, sticky strawberry jam smothered in velvety cream sets your taste buds tingling with delight. It’s the classic cake to make at home, which has undergone a surge in popularity of late due to the Great British Bake Off.
A home cook can whip up a strawberry Victoria sponge cake in no time, but many people remain daunted by the prospect of making a cake. We have all experienced the sponge that came out of the oven looking like a flatbread, but don’t let past failures put you off. Home baking remains a thing of wonder, but it’s something you may easily learn and practice until you produce light, fluffy cakes fit for a Queen.
Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake
The starting point on your culinary journey derives from two slabs of light, fluffy sponge made with a hint of vanilla and baked to a golden color. Heavy cream whipped to perfection forms ethereal swirls that dance across the surface of the sponge while sweet ruby-red strawberry jam glitters with the promise of a feast. The strawberry Victoria sponge cake beckons to you and demands you cut a thick slice to enjoy with a cup of coffee.
It sounds delicious. Plus, it’s one of the easiest cakes to make, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Eggs, flour, sugar, strawberry jam, butter, and heavy cream form the basis for the classic cake, and if you have them, why not toss a few fresh, plump strawberries into the heavenly sandwich?
Let Them Eat Cake
Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until 1901, and she loved a slice of cake with a cup of tea in the afternoon. The Queen enjoyed her afternoon tea and invited guests to join her for what became known as the quintessential tea party.
The most common cake at the time was known as pound cake, which used equal parts of butter to sugar, flour, and eggs. However, the cake remained plain and uninspired, so a socialite of the time, the Duchess of Bedford, came up with an alternative that used a revolutionary new ingredient: baking powder.
The new magic ingredient remained expensive and challenging to come by, and only the rich and wealthy could afford the mysterious substance. The Duchess of Bedford used the new baking powder in her pound cake recipe, which changed the texture to a light sponge, and she decided to serve her new cake to her friends during one of her popular tea parties.
However, she took her creation further by adding fruit jam and cream to sandwich the two sponges together. The cake proved such a hit that she named the creation after Queen Victoria, who praised the cake and insisted that her chefs make it for her. Consequently, the classic Victoria sandwich was born.
It’s the burning question that inflames home cooks and sets tongues wagging. Do you add baking powder to your strawberry Victoria sponge cake? Some home cooks do, and some don’t.
However, from a historical standpoint, baking powder set the Victoria sponge cake apart from other varieties because the miracle powder’s addition resulted in a lighter textured cake. The ingredients for a Victoria sponge remain unchanged through the ages and require equal parts of egg to flour, sugar, and butter, but the cake remains a pound cake if you omit the baking powder.
The controversy surrounding the making of a classic Victoria sponge must not persist! Baking powder forms a crucial ingredient for a successful strawberry Victoria sponge cake.
Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cake
If your cake has that sinking feeling and resembles a flat tire when you take it out of the oven, don’t panic. It may not be the cake you are looking for, but smother it with a bit of icing and pretend that you’ve made biscuits.
So what went wrong, and how may you avoid such a catastrophe next time?
The most common mistake comes from the beating of the sugar and butter base. It’s not enough to combine the two together. You must, quite literally, beat the living daylights out of it.
My grandmother used to beat her cakes by hand, and I would stand in her kitchen and watch in awe as she flexed her rather impressive, muscular arms. However, for the good of your sanity, please invest in a mixer. Life is too short to stand in a hot kitchen beating a bowl with a wooden spoon.
A crucial trick
Use the mixer to beat the sugar and butter together until it changes color and texture. It needs to look light and fluffy with a very pale-yellow color.
Adding the eggs to your light and fluffy sugar and butter mixture constitutes a crucial turning point. Failure sits at your fingertips.
Don’t stress out. The trick here is to add the beaten eggs to the mixture very slowly. Make sure each bit of egg thoroughly combines with the mix before you dribble in the next bit of egg. It’s a slow process but so worth it because you may end up with a beautiful, light, fluffy sponge.
That separating feeling
Sometimes the mixture splits. It’s a fact of life and happens to the best of us, and there is nothing you can do about it. If the mixture splits, continue to the bitter end by gradually folding in your flour and baking powder.
At the end of the day, something with so many delicious ingredients in it can’t taste that bad. The splitting mixture may result in a cake with a slightly denser texture, and the cake may not rise as much, but it still makes a delicious treat.
The Classic Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake Method
I like to have my eggs and butter at room temperature before I begin to make my cakes. It remains vital for the butter to incorporate with the sugar before adding the eggs. Moreover, weigh out your flour in a separate bowl and sieve your flour and baking powder together to make it ready to add to the batter mix.
The magic ingredients
Baking remains a precise art, so make sure you measure each ingredient accurately, or your sponge may fail.
- 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup of white caster sugar
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Use 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Use a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer to cream the sugar and butter together before slowly dribbling in the beaten eggs. Once combined, add the vanilla extract and fold in the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt.
Grease two eight-inch cake tins with some additional butter and line the bottom with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking. Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes.
To test if the cake is cooked correctly, insert a skewer into the center of the cake, and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from their tins to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
A traditional strawberry Victoria sponge cake uses whipped heavy cream for the filling and strawberry jam. You may make your own strawberry jam in advance, but I don’t want to stand chained to the stove for a lifetime, so I use a good quality, store-bought variety.
Spread the jam over one half of the cooled sponge before dolloping on a generous amount of whipped heavy cream. You may add a few plump, fresh strawberries if you have them. Place the other cake on top to sandwich the delectable mixture together and finish off by dusting your creation with some confectioners sugar.
If you don’t like whipped heavy cream, or you need to ensure the filling remains robust during warm weather, you may substitute the heavy cream with buttercream. Beat together confectioners sugar with a 1/4 cup of soft unsalted butter until you achieve a light and fluffy mixture. Flavor the heavenly clouds with a little vanilla extract before smothering it inside the cake.
Try using raspberry jam or your favorite preserves as an exciting variant to the classic recipe.
A Vegan Alternative
You may make a vegan alternative to the classic strawberry Victoria sponge cake, though the recipe requires some additional ingredients.
The basic method remains much the same but with some adjustments.
- 1 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups of white caster sugar
- 3/4 cup of soy yogurt
- 220 milliliters of dairy-free milk
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
- 3 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
The method to the madness
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 2 shallow 8-inch cake tins with dairy-free butter. Line the bases of the tins with parchment paper to prevent the cakes from sticking.
Use an electric whisk or a stand mixer to combine the sugar and butter together until light, fluffy and pale in color. Gently and slowly, stir in the yogurt, milk, vinegar, and vanilla to combine the ingredients into a smooth batter.
Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder. Take care to add a little at a time until everything combines into a thick mixture without any lumps of flour.
Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and bake for 20 minutes until cooked. Allow the cakes to cool a little before turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely.
The texture of the cake proves crumblier than a classic Victoria sponge. The cake doesn’t use eggs to bind it together, so the result may prove brittle and delicate. Consequently, take care when turning out the cakes. If they break apart, don’t worry, it happens. Repair them by using the jam to glue the pieces together because they will still taste delicious.
The vegan strawberry Victoria sponge cake uses buttercream for the filling. Combine 1.5 cups of confectioners sugar with 3/4 of a cup of dairy-free butter until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Add a little vanilla extract to taste, and use the buttercream to sandwich your sponges together.
Use a good-quality strawberry jam inside the cake and add some fresh strawberries if you can for added taste.
The vegan version of the strawberry Victorian sponge cake may taste different from the classic version, and the texture may seem denser. However, you may receive a round of applause when you present the delicious cake to your family and friends.
The Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake Explored
Baking cakes is immensely satisfying, and the smell of cakes baking in the oven evokes so many memories. I will forever remember my grandmother cooking her delicious cakes, and if I close my eyes when I cook, I still remember how her house smelled when she baked.
Making a cake need not seem daunting or difficult. It doesn’t matter how many attempts you have before you get it right because it is worth it. And you may rescue disasters by serving failed sponges with custard as a homely pudding for dessert.
The classic strawberry Victoria sponge cake remains one of the tastiest delights you may make. Serve your cake with a coffee or a cup of tea and watch the pleasure spread across your friend’s faces as they take their first bite. Who knew that eggs, flour, butter, sugar, jam, and cream could taste so divine?
The Great British Bakeoff brought the Victoria sponge cake back into our lives, and I hope it remains with us for a very long time to come.