Three Ways to enjoy the classic Victoria Sponge: Paid-for, packet-mix or home-made.
If you are buying your Victoria Sponge, ensure the cake is still soft and, if you are able to, give the sides a prod to check there are no hardening edges. Also make sure you pick up a cake with the most time left until it’s best before date because sponge goes stale very quickly and if you eat it even one day past the B.B.D. it is usually too late.
My favourite supermarkets for cakes are Morrisons as they have a fresh cake counter or Waitrose. Morrisons charge about £4 for a fresh 10 inch victoria sponge, but get there early as they sell out fast and make sure you are going to eat it that day or the next as they go stale quickly. The fresh cream and jam are really tasty and you can’t beat the price. Unfortunately, you cannot order them online and I know in my area Morrisons are few and far between but do not fear cake-lovers as Waitrose sells a gorgeous victoria sponge by Handmade Delights for £5.39, which you can order online for delivery. What’s more, as the cake is actually handmade and not perfectly round, if you throw away the packaging you can convince your friends and family that you actually made the cake! (Throw some icing sugar around your kitchen and down your top to really enforce your point.)
I often cheat when it comes to cake baking, usually because I have a tight deadline or because I am strolling the supermarket with a small basket and a packet of cake mix is much lighter than 500g of caster sugar, a kg of flour, six eggs and a packet of butter. Oh and I’m lazy.
My favourite packet mix for Victoria Sponge is Aunt Bessie’s Light & Fluffy cake mix. It’s priced between £1-2 at most supermarkets and is therefore one of the cheaper products but it still remains one of the tastiest. One thing I do love about it, is that you only have to add water and butter, no need for eggs like most other mixes, and the reason I like this, is that I am more likely to use the rest of a tub of butter than I am the remaining 5 eggs so there is less waste. It is also, as the packet says, very light and avoids going into a bread like form like some other mixes I can think of.
Can you really beat home-made? Well, in my opinion, you can, but if you really love the kitchen and are baking out of enjoyment rather than necessity then this is the occasion when you just have to bake your cake from scratch.
Victoria Sponge is probably the easiest cake to make from scratch and is pretty fool-proof, so even if you are a kitchen newbie do not worry. Here’s my most used recipe, which has been handed down the generations for many years. It’s easy to remember as the sugar, flour and butter measurements are always the same 225g (8oz) and then you just have to remember the 4 eggs!
- 225g (8oz) butter, softened slightly
- 225g (8oz) caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 225g (8oz) self raising flour
- milk, just a splash to loosen the batter
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4).
- Grease and line 2 x 18cm (7in) cake tins with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until fully incorporated.
- Beat in the eggs, then stir in the vanilla extract.
- Fold in the flour, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency.
- Divide the mixture between the cake tins.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until they are golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack to cool.
- Sandwich the cakes together with strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream (Mix together 140g (5oz) butter, 280g (10oz) icing sugar and 2tsp vanilla extract).
In my opinion, because of the easy recipe and availability of ingredients the Victoria Sponge is a cake best made at home but if you are in a rush or simply have a cooking phobia do not feel guilty about using a packet mix or buying it pre-made.