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Step by Step: Victoria Sponge Cake

In honour of the Queen’s Jubilee, and because I’m always looking for a reason to bake (and eat!) cake, I whipped up the simple yet elegant Victoria sponge.

As you may have guessed, the classic dessert is named after the monarch herself, as reputedly it was her favourite cake. Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, who was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, has been given credit for introducing the custom of afternoon tea, of which sponge cakes were a requisite part of the service.

The current monarch is also said to be partial to a slice of the layer cake, and it’s been served at several fetes in her honour. Seeing as my invite to the festivities this year must have been lost in the mail, I’ll have to just assume it was served to the Queen and her crew in June.

The beauty of this dessert is its straightforward simplicity. Two layers of orange-scented, buttery sponge cake, a sweet and tangy jam, clouds of whipped cream, and a dusting of icing sugar. It’s kind of perfect, really.

Traditionally, the top is kept simple, but seeing as this is a glorious time for fresh edible flowers, I couldn’t resist a few to crown this cake. If going the flower route, be sure they are spray (and bug!) free.

The cake base is a simple sponge. Nothing too complicated here, just be sure the layers are even. For the jam layer, strawberry or raspberry is traditional, but I opted for a pot of locally made strawberry rhubarb. This is where you add your own flourish, using whatever you like to flavour the middle of the cake.

Pillowy whipped cream is next in the assembly line, and you can add a drop of vanilla or keep it plain. The top layer is gently pressed down to adhere the whole concoction together. Voila!

Slices of Victoria sponge are best the day it’s made, which means it’s an excellent excuse to invite friends over for a spot of tea and cake. The past and present Queens would definitely approve.


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