It’s strawberry season here in central Florida! To other parts of the country, strawberries symbolize summer. To Floridians, spring (and sometimes even late winter) is the time we go out to enjoy gorgeous weather and pick strawberries. What to do with your strawberry haul? Well, last spring I offered up my favorite strawberry jam. This year, I want to take that strawberry jam and turn it into something extra special. By now, you have probably picked up on my love for food history, and this special recipe has royal origins.
Victoria sponge cake (or Victoria sandwich) was Queen Victoria’s favorite cake. So beloved by the Queen that she apparently ate it every day at 4 p.m. with tea. It was actually Queen Victoria’s friend and lady in waiting, Anna Duchess of Bedford, who helped popularize what we know today as afternoon tea or tea parties. Hungry and bored before the late formal dinners, Anna and Queen Victoria would have tea and cakes sent up on trays. Inviting ladies over for tea and socializing became instantly popular, and what we know today as afternoon tea comes from this Victorian tradition.
This recipe is significantly easier than baking in the 19th century. Baking powder wasn’t invented until the 1840s. Before this staple baking ingredient, cooks had to use wild yeast, potash or beat massive amounts of air into the batter, which could take hours of hard work. Luckily, baking today is much more precise, but even now cakes especially can be tricky. This recipe is very simple. No buttercream required. Simply bake your cakes and cool. Whip some cream and add jam. Personally, I like to add more whipped cream to the top and add fresh strawberries and a few chamomile flowers. The traditional British Victoria sponge has just cake, strawberry or raspberry jam, whipped or cream, and finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. For more food history, check out my new YouTube channel called Savor Tooth Tiger Food History. I create historic recipes while sharing their origins and what people of different eras were cooking and eating.
Victoria Sponge Cake (serves 8-10 slices)
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2-1 cup strawberry jam (I like Bonne Maman brand)
Additional strawberries sliced for top
Optional, chamomile flowers
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat softened butter and sugar for several minutes on medium until fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time.
- Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Whisk together
- Add dry ingredients to the bowl of eggs, sugar and butter. Only mix until smooth. Do not over mix or your cake could turn out dense.
- Divide batter into two 8-inch round cake pans. Make sure to grease and flour the cake pans and line the bottom with a round of parchment
- Bake cakes for 26-27 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely before assembling.
- Whip the cream in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Whip until medium peaks form, about 5 minutes on medium-low.
- On a cake stand, layer one cooled cake. Add strawberry jam, then whipped cream on top.
- Gently place the second layer on top. Add more whipped cream, a dollop of jam and slices of strawberries. Garnish with mint, chamomile flowers or any small, delicate edible flowers or herbs. Or if you want to stay traditional, just cake, jam and whipped cream with a dust of powdered sugar.
For Savor Tooth’s Homemade Strawberry Jam recipe click here.