"Happy Victoria Day," was how our Canadian editor greeted me
on a recent telephone call. I hadn't the faintest idea of what he meant, yet as
he told me of the holiday, I was full of smiles. It sounded, to me, the perfect
reason to get baking one of my favorite British desserts. Victoria Sponge is a
vanilla scented cake, split and filled with both jam and whipped cream.
Yes, many Americans like to joke about English food, usually to its detriment.
However, that has not been my experience. Just the thought of London sets my
mouth watering with anticipation. No, I don't eat in ordinary pubs or teashops,
but neither do I go to greasy-spoon cafes or truck stops stateside. Occasional
anecdotes aside, great quality food isn't made from bargain-basement ingredients
prepared by self-trained staff.
Victoria Sponge is a perfect illustration of this. You will find it everywhere
in England, and at every level of cookery. At its best with tender buttery cake,
good quality jam, and freshly whipped Devon cream: it is a joy; at its packaged
worst with dry sponge, artificially-flavored filling, and shortening based
icing: it's inedible.
This cake is a perfect reason to enjoy a Dairy dinner. A lovely Summer menu
would also include wine-poached salmon, cucumbers dressed with sour cream, and
green beans amandine.
1/2 cup unsalted Butter
1 cup finely granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising Flour
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup seedless Raspberry or Strawberry Jam, stirred
1 cup Heavy Cream, whipped
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
Fresh Berries for garnish, optional
Butter and Flour the bottom of a 9-inch Springform pan. Pre-heat the oven to 350
Place the Butter and Sugar in a large mixing bowl, and cream at the low speed of
your electric mixer, until light-colored and fluffy. Add the Eggs, one at a
time, beating each until thoroughly incorporated, before adding the next. Add
the Vanilla extract, and beat. Add the Flour and Milk by halves, beating each
only until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30-40
minutes. Cake is done when it is golden brown, and shrinks slightly away from
the sides of the pan. Place on a rack to cool. After 10 minutes, remove the
sides of the pan, and allow the cake to cool completely. Cover until just before
When ready to serve, cut the cake into two layers. Spread the bottom layer:
first with Jam, then the whipped Cream. Replace the top layer, and sprinkle with
powdered Sugar. Serve each piece garnished with a few fresh Berries, if desired.
This cake may be varied by using Peach, Blueberry, or Blackberry Jam, and
garnishing with those fruits when in season.
Copyright 2011 Eddy Robey