A basic bake that every cook/baker needs in their repertoire.
Ever since I was a child, one cookbook has retained a constant presence in my life, the Ultimate Cake Book by Mary Berry. Every few days it would be on the kitchen counter, Mum making a cake from it. Victoria sandwiches mostly.
When I started learning to cook and bake properly, the Victoria sandwich was one of the first things I learnt. It’s simple, easily adaptable and everyone loves it. You can fill it with jam, swirl frosting over it, you name it.
Below I’ve given the basic recipe, and stipulated a simple vanilla buttercream as part of the filling which would make members of the Women’s Institute cross, but I don’t care. I only put buttercream in if making it for my uncle’s birthday, which is how he likes it. And nothing makes me happier than baking a cake for someone.
Simple Victoria Sandwich – makes one 20cm sandwich cake – adapted from the Ultimate Cake Book by Mary Berry
You can fill and ice this cake however you like. I leave it to you.
225g butter, softened
225g vanilla sugar (just sugar steeped with a vanilla pod for a few weeks beforehand)
4 eggs, room temperature
225g self-raising flour
2tsp baking powder
Raspberry jam, good quality
Vanilla buttercream, optional (see note for recipe)
Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180c, 160c fan. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins, and line the bases with circles of baking parchment. (Nigella uses re-usable baking liners for her tins, and I’m gradually getting into the habit myself.)
Into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a ordinary mixing bowl, measure in all the cake ingredients. Using either the paddle, or a handheld electronic mixer, both on low at first, combine the ingredients well, increasing the speed once most of the flour has been incorporated. You can even mix everything together by hand using a wooden spoon. I tend to alternate between electronic and hand, depending on my mood at the time of baking.
Once combined thoroughly, divide the batter between the tins, using a spatula. Using the back of the spatula, level the mixture out in the tins.
Just before baking the cakes, pick up each tin and carefully drop them on to the work surface, this apparently makes the cakes rise more. I got this tip from Nigel Slater, so blame him if it doesn’t work. Sorry Mr Slater. Put the tins side by side on the lower middle shelf of the oven. Bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes, until golden and the cakes spring back when lightly touched with a finger.
Remove from the oven, place the tins on a wire rack and allow to cool for about five minutes before turning out to cool properly.
Sandwich together with the jam, and buttercream if using. Sprinkle with a little sugar, or sift over some icing sugar.
Serve in slices with tea or coffee in the afternoon while listening to a play on the radio, or idly chatting with family and friends.
Note: If you fancy filling your cake with buttercream, may I recommend this one from Bake by Rachel Allen?
100g butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla paste
200g sifted icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
In a bowl beat the butter and vanilla paste until very soft. Add the icing sugar and milk and beat until very smooth.
Use to fill a 20cm sandwich cake.
You can double it to fill and top your cake, if you so desire.