Sweet, fluffy, and unmistakably British – the Victoria sandwich still reigns supreme in village fetes, festivals and on afternoon tea menus across the nation. It kick-started the BBC’s The Great British Bake-Off only last month, as ten amateur bakers were forced to gauge just how long to beat their eggs, how much jam to spread in the filling and how long to bake their sponges in a nail-biting blind bake challenge.
The simple appeal of a Victoria sandwich – both light and buttery with a hint of raspberry jam – means the ‘vintage’ recipe has required little adaptation. The Women’s Institute’s Victoria sandwich cake is the cornerstone of nearly every WI cook-book or baking guide ever published, and the Yorkshire WI Recipe Book (1957) is no exception.
Compiled from recipes recommended and tested by members of the Yorkshire Women’s Institutes (now split into several federations due to the sheer size of the county), the book sold 65,000 in its first edition – published by a county ‘rightly proud of its cookery experts’.
In comparison to the detailed and varied methods of baking from today’s top chefs and bakers (Nigella uses corn flour while Mary Berry swears by margarine instead of butter for a lighter texture), this recipe shows baking basics at their best.
- Weight of two eggs in butter, sugar and flour
- Two eggs
- Raspberry jam to fill
- Icing sugar to dust
- Cream butter and sugar together
- Add beaten eggs and fold in the flour (if plain sift in half a teaspoon baking powder).
- Bake in 7-inch sandwich tin in moderate oven for 25 minutes (I baked at gas mark 4/160ºC (fan)/180ºC).
- When cold, split open and spread with raspberry jam (or lemon curd if you fancy).
- Lightly dust the top.
Home economist Liz Herbert offers these useful tips in her book, The WI Book of Cakes…
- If the batter curdles, add a spoonful more of flour
- Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon using a cutting action so as not to knock out any of the incorporated air
- Line tins with lining paper. When cool, turn out onto a tea towel or oven glove before placing on a cooling rack. This prevents the top of the cake from being marked.