“I made this for a baby shower tea party and served other desserts along side. This was EVERYONE’S favorite of the afternoon!” ~Genevieve
The Victoria Sponge is up there with CLOTTED CREAM and SCONES in the lexicon of the perfect afternoon tea.
The tradition of British afternoon tea began in the mid 1800s, during Queen Victoria’s reign. The story goes that the classic Victoria Sponge was invented to lure the Queen out of hibernation and back into social life after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. This cake has been a staple at afternoon tea in England ever since. It’s such a simple cake, and one that everybody loves.
sponge cake vs pound cake
- Sponge cake and pound cake are cake cousins, their ingredients are similar but not the same: flour, eggs, and sugar for traditional sponge cakes, and add butter for pound cakes,
- A traditional sponge cake is made with separated eggs, with the whites whipped, so it has a lighter, ‘spongier’ texture.
- Traditional pound cake is made from equal weights of butter, flour, eggs, and sugar,
- Both recipes are quite old, going back centuries, but in modern times there are lots of variations on those original themes.
I used a yellow cake mix for this Victoria Sponge
It’s not technically a ‘sponge’, but I chose it for convenience, and because I think it has the perfect texture for this recipe. I doctored the mix with a few tricks and I think it has a superior texture to many homemade cakes. Using the cake mix means this Victoria Sponge is a fabulously quick project, and it stays fresh longer, which is always a plus.
This is a fun cake to put together ~ once your cake is baked and cooled you’ll flip over the bottom layer to get a flat surface, and then pile on sweetened whipped cream. The jam is spread thickly on the second layer, which you’ll (gently!) flip over on top of the first. Or vice-versa!
I wasn’t expecting to love this quite as much as I did ~ I’m normally more a fan of richer, chocolatey cakes…but this one took me by surprise. The texture of the cake is so light that it doesn’t overwhelm the filling, and the vanilla flavor along with the tartness of the jam is wonderful. You can’t go wrong with this one.
pro tips for baking a Victoria sponge cake
- Don’t beat the cake mix with electric beaters or a mixer, even thought the box tells you to do so. I use a whisk and then a silicone spatula. Small lumps are fine. This produces a cake with a more homemade texture.
- Use a nice tart jam for the filling, it makes a big difference. Raspberry worked better than strawberry for me.
- Don’t skimp on the jam or the whipped cream, a nice thick filling is important.
- Use a large sharp knife and don’t press too hard when slicing the cake or your soft filling will squish out. I went in point first and used a small back and forth motion to cut cleanly without too much collateral damage 😉 A little bit of squishage is ok, and part of the charm of this cake.
Make this Victoria Sponge Cake your own
- Definitely try fresh berries if you like, either sandwiched inside the cake, or decorating the top.
- Many different jams would work well here, including a nice marmalade. Let your imagination go.
- You could soak the cake layers in a little liqueur before adding the jam and cream.
- You can make a gluten free version using your favorite gluten free flour mix.
Classic Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk, or one cup whole milk with a squeeze of lemon added, set aside for 15 minutes before using
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, good-quality
- 15.25 ounces yellow cake mix, I prefer Duncan Hines
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 2/3 cup raspberry jam
- confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F (325F for dark coated pans)
- Lightly spray 2 8 or 9 inch nonstick cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper at the bottom.
- Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend in the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Then whisk in the cake mix, mixing until everything is combined and there are no large lumps…small lumps are fine.
- Turn the batter into the cake pans. Bake 8 inch pans for 26-31 minutes, and 9 inch pans for 23-28 minutes, or according to your box instructions. The cakes will feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out dry. Check them on the earliest time.
- Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes on a rack, then turn them out of the pans and let them cool completely on the rack.
- Meanwhile whip the cream and confectioner’s sugar until it holds stiff peaks.
- When the cake is cooled, place one layer flat side up and spread with a thick layer of jam. Spread the whipped cream on top of the jam, and then place the second cake layer on top of that, flat side DOWN. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.
Questions and Reviews
I made this for our Easter and it was a perfect way to welcome spring. The sponge texture was wonderfully light & the raspberry filling delicious. I sprinkled some Grand Marnier over the layers for an extra flavor & along with the whipped cream it was perfect!
Thanks Jacqui, so glad it was a hit!
Sue, this looks great! Do you think I could make mini VS using a muffin tin?
Nice idea, that should work fine.
When I make Victoria Sponge to serve friends for Afternoon Tea, I’ve used a 2″ biscuit cutter to cut out rounds then made individual cakes. The scraps make great “taste test” bites!
I make this cake usually using the British sponge but am going to try the cake mix this time. I whip both cream and mascarpone and then mix them together. It’s firmer, holds its shape well and is delicious. I smear on the raspberry jam, then the whipped mixture and then cover with fresh raspberries (yes, it takes a while to place each on on the cake). I put the second layer of cake on top of this and repeat the filling on top. It’s so pretty and it tastes so good. Making for Easter tomorrow.
Sounds wonderful, the layer of raspberries especially 🙂
I usually love your recipes Sue, but with the greatest respect, you cannot call this a true Victoria Sponge. You can take it from this Brit, who grew up on them, that it is never, ever made with a cake mix. A real VS has equal quantities of butter, superfine (caster) sugar, flour and the same weight in eggs, plus a couple teaspoons of baking powder. Maybe a tablespoon milk if mixture is a bit thick. 🙂
I know Christine, a cake mix would be frowned on in Britain, but maybe this gives a good approximation of the true Victoria Sponge for someone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to do the authentic version 🙂 If you have a favorite recipe for me to try, I’m game!
I’m sorry, Sue, but boxed cake mix always tastes like boxed cake mix, no matter the doctoring. The gorgeousness of a real sponge is that incredible aftertaste of vanilla and eggs and creamy dairy in the cake. No amount of doctoring– and certainly not with buttermilk or sour milk– will make it taste like the real thing.