Growing up, I always lived hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from my grandparents. Every year, from the time I was 6 until 16, my brother and I would fly back to Ohio where both sets of grandparents lived and spend 1-2 weeks visiting. We visited late July in 1981 and while I do not remember much specific about that visit (they all run together in my memory), I do remember getting up with my grandmother to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Diana. I was not a royal fan or particularly an Anglophile, and as a pre-teen boy, really not interested in weddings or love stories, but I had a sense of the importance of the occasion, and woke up early to watch it live. As it is Monday, it must be Maggie. She has her own Royal Wedding story to tell…
One year ago I was in London for a week. Work called me there, and it just happened to be the week of the Royal Wedding. I know. Lucky me. I got great pictures of the wedding procession, and I am sure William waved to me and me alone.
In my defense, my trip was scheduled BEFORE the Palace announced the date for the big day. I have traveled to London many times, and have a love for the city. I often wish I was British. I love so many things about the culture and the country. And yes, I do believe British food gets a bad rap. There are many wonderful dishes- (mostly desserts) that are crave-able. My dear friend Charlotte introduced me to the classic Victoria Sponge. We had our own little wedding celebration with another friend. It seems that this is the British go-to celebration cake. It is so pretty and summery. When this cake is on the table, it quietly and simply states “I don’t mean to crow, but look at me all proper and lovely for your Afternoon Tea!”
The cake itself is a bit dry (as sponge cakes tend to be) but the use of plenty of jam and whipped cream makes it a great combination. Splurge on really good jam, or use homemade jam if you have some. And take the time to whip your own cream. Don’t skimp here. This cake needs the richness of fresh whipped cream. It is easy an only takes a few minutes.
Happy 1st Anniversary William and Kate!
Victoria Sponge Cake
What you need:
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1cup sugar- (superfine or Castor is best, but can use granulated)
2 cups cake flour
2t baking powder
Pinch of salt
1t vanilla extract
Berry and Whipped Cream Filling:
4T jam (I prefer seedless raspberry, but strawberry is traditional)
2 cups fresh berries- raspberries or sliced strawberries
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream (if you can get your hands on double Devon cream use this instead. It is so much better, but hard to come by in the U.S. L)
2T superfine or Castor sugar (again, granulated will work, but I prefer superfine)
Whipped cream, berries, powdered or granulated sugar
What you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 round 8” cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment, then butter the parchment.
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
In a larger bowl, or preferably in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla. Next add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each egg. Slowly begin adding the flour mixture, keeping the mixer on low until well blended. Now begin adding the milk about one tablespoon at a time, until it is completely mixed into the batter. You’ll need to be scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula often. The batter will be quite thick, almost like dough- this is not as thin as most cake batters. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, spreading it with the spatula. Since the batter is thick, you’ll really need to do this carefully, and make sure you have it spread evenly in the pans or your cakes could be a bit wonky. Bake for about 20 minutes- until a pick comes out clean and the cakes just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. They will be golden brown. Place pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes or so. Then remove cakes from pans and place them, bottoms down, on the rack to cool completely.
Now start on the filling. Chill the mixing bowl in which you plan to whip the cream in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Whip the cream adding the sugar, until it forms nice, soft peaks.
Place one cake, top down, on your cake plate. Leaving about a one inch border, spread with 4 tablespoons of the jam, then place fresh berries (reserving a few for garnish and serving)over the jam.
Next spread about half of the whipped cream on top of the berries and jam.Place the second cake layer, right (rounded) side up on top of the whipped cream and berries. Press it gently just so the filling begins to reach the edge of the cake. Place a bit of jam and a few berries on top, and sprinkle with powdered or granulated sugar.
You can also “frost” it with the extra whipping cream if you think the whole cake will be consumed at first serving. If not, just use the sprinkled sugar garnish, and have the whipping cream and more jam on hand to garnish individual servings.