Victoria sponges are the delight of the tea table. They were the cakes made to celebrate the advent of baking powder in the 1840's, before then cakes were heavy and more akin to sweet door stops. This little cake is quintessentially English and originally was a type of jam sandwich only. Today we often take it slightly further by having a luscious layer of whipped cream or even more decadent, a rich butter cream icing. You can use any jam, conserve or fresh fruits for the filling. Strawberry is a classic but raspberry gives a lovely tartness and grittiness. The important thing is that equal quantities of flour, sugar and butter are used for the sponge. Weighing the eggs will also help to make it perfect. Maintain as much air and lightness as possible and incorporate the eggs slowly to avoid curdling. Instead of making a single sponge and then cutting it in half, the batter is divided into two tins and baked at the same time. Allowed to cool, one sponge is topped with jam and cream then sandwiched together with the other.
220g caster sugar
220g soft unsalted butter
220g self raising flour
4 large eggs
pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp milk
200ml whipping cream
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. In a separate bowl beat eggs together with a fork. Gradually add the egg to the sugar and butter, beating well after each addition to avoid curdling. If the mix does curdle, fold in a tablespoon of flour to stabilise it. Sift flour and salt into the mixture and fold in very gently using a metal spoon. Add milk to loosen up the batter if necessary. The batter should be a thick dropping consistency, to test this, the batter should fall easily from the spoon when giving it a sharp tap. Separate batter into your prepared tins in even quantities and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and just coming away from the sides.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the tins by sliding a knife around the edges and tipping them onto cooling wracks. Allow to cool completely. Choose the flatter of the two for the base. Top generously with jam and then follow with a layer of whipped cream. Sandwich together with the remaining sponge, don't press down. Sprinkle the top with caster sugar.