You guys, do you know for sure if you have to be British to be a contestant on The Great British Baking Show? The internet says yes, you do, but I’m still crossing my fingers for a loophole. I love GBBS with a passion only a baking-obsessed individual can possess. A perfect evening for me consists of setting my laptop on the kitchen counter, turning on GBBS, and whipping up something sweet. Today’s recipe for a classic British Victoria Sponge Cake (or sandwich cake, depending on what you call it), was the final technical challenge on season 1 of GBBS. So grab your icing sugar, pretend you’re being judged by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (am I the only one who does that?), and bake up this delectable tea-time classic!
I’m fascinated by the immense detail that goes into so many of the recipe challenges! Unlike lots of American baking, which consists of tossing chocolate chips into a simple batter (don’t get me wrong – I still love doing that), British baking captures the refined, precise, and elegant manner in which Brits go about everything.
After baking both layers of cake comes the time for filling! Although I am one hundred percent the type of baker who bakes everything from scratch, from frosting to crusts to puff pastry, I used a store-bought jam for this recipe. 1) There were no strawberries or raspberries in my house and I didn’t want to go buy some… 2) There was an unopened jar of high-quality Bonne Maman strawberry preserves in the fridge! I have to say, it didn’t compromise the cake’s flavor at all, and I highly recommend this brand. Just make sure you don’t have too many large strawberry chunks; it’s important to have an even layer, as seen below.
I topped the jam layer with some loopily-piped basic buttercream icing. I’ve seen Victoria sponge recipes that use heavy cream to make a whipped cream frosting, but I decided on a sweeter buttercream. The cake itself is very buttery and not too sweet, so I wanted to add in a bit more sweetness with the buttercream to compliment the jam.
Imagine a really delicious slice of toast with jam and butter and a powdered sugar dusting… then multiply the deliciousness by ten and you’ve got this cake!
For a final touch, a dusting of powdered sugar on top does the trick. It ties the look of this tea cake together. Pop a slice on your prettiest plate and indulge in some afternoon tea!
Happy British baking!
Victoria Sponge Cake
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: One 2-layer cake (6 inch layers)
For the cake
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), very soft
For the filling
- 1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons; 1/2 stick), softened
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, plus some extra for dusting on top
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 1/3 cup strawberry preserves (I used Bonne Maman)
- Preheat your oven to 350*F, and grease two 6-inch round cake pans. Because this is a traditional British dessert, it requires caster sugar. In a high-speed blender or food processor, process the 1/2 cup of sugar for 10 seconds, or until it appears white and very fine, almost like powdered sugar.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, processed sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and butter, until smooth and just combined. Distribute the batter evenly between your two prepared pans, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when touched and the edges pull away from the pan.
- Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes before popping them out of the pans to fully cool – about 20-30 minutes. While they’re cooling, make the buttercream filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until soft and smooth. Add in 1/2 of the powdered sugar and 1/2 of the milk and continue to beat. Pour in the rest of the sugar and milk, and beat on high speed until smooth and light.
- Once the cakes are cool, spread the strawberry preserves in an even layer on top of the first layer. Using a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip (or with a butter knife for a less-finished look), pipe the buttercream in a loopy, wave-like design on top of the preserves around the cake’s edge. After making that outline, fill in the rest of the layer evenly with the buttercream.
- Gently flip the second layer face-down and place it on top of the first. Using a powdered sugar dusting tool or your hands, dust a thin layer of powdered sugar on top of the cake. Let it set at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing and serving!