Sunday, 12 November 2017

A Simple but Perfect gluten free Victoria Sandwich Cake (also rice free, nut free and optional dairy free)

Every food blog needs a Victoria Sandwich Cake doesn't it? It is the sponge which (in my humble opinion) says you are either an OK baker or a good baker. Forget fancy Battenberg, Angel Cake, Coffee & Walnut Cake, or Jamaican Ginger....., a Victoria Sandwich may look simple (it is easy to ask what could possibly go wrong with a plain vanilla sponge, sandwiched with jam), but getting the right crumb, texture, density and flavour can be something of a technical challenge.

Because it is so well known and such an iconic bake, there is nowhere to hide if you get it wrong..... this also however, makes it an ideal base to test and hone baking skills. It is no surprise that it is one of the significant large cakes that school kids get to make..... and for good reason. The principles of ratio, of creaming soft butter with sugar, of beating in eggs and managing potential curdle and of sifting flour and carefully folding to ensure a lightness worthy of the great queen herself, are all skills which once mastered, will serve any baker for life.

As a child, I remember making endless Victoria Sandwich Cakes.... and yes, my first was in the school domestic science kitchen. They rarely went wrong and they were always greeted with happy enthusiasm by those who ate them.....

These days, things are not so predictable. When you are gluten free, many baking rules go out of the window the day you stop eating wheat flour..... With its instantly recognisable and quintessential familiarity, it somehow seemed important to get this bake right. The Victoria Sandwich Cake recipe I share here comes at the end of a line of attempts to get the perfect crumb.

In testing, I made number of cakes where I straight subbed my gluten free flour blends on equal weight ratios of fat to sugar to flour as in a standard Victoria Sponge recipe, but found the bakes to be quite fickle. Sometimes they would work well and other times the result was heavy and stodgy. Although most of the GF VS recipes across cyberspace do use the standard ratios, I was not happy with something so unpredictable..... so I have slightly lowered the fat content, slightly increased the flour content and added extra liquid to compensate for the moisture-sucking properties of gluten free flour.

Gluten Free flours also tend not to absorb fat as easily as wheat flour and consequently like-for-like subs can result in greasy results. The easiest solution is to slightly reduce fat content, but be sure to add compensatory moisture and richness through additional yoghurt or milk.

Boy.... the result is amazing..... Light, sweetly-balanced, vanilla-infused, moist but not dense and risen to perfection...... no humps and spirit-level even.

Sandwiched with a thick, sweet layer of fruity raspberry jam (I left out additional buttercream, as I think a good Victoria sponge needs nothing more), this cake is fit for any tea-time table and is a perfect offering for bake sales, charity coffee mornings and sharing with friends.... just because you can. It is also easy to make dairy free if you need to.

On the technical bake front...... As with any Victoria Sponge, it is essential that your butter is softened, your eggs are at room temperature and your flour is sifted before mixing. If you beat your eggs together before you add them (very slowly) to the creamed fat and sugar, you will also lessen the chance of curdling.....

I am so pleased with this recipe..... I hope you love it too. I am sharing with :

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel and Free From Farmhouse

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber - Keep it Simple

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello and Mummy Mishaps

Inheritance Recipes with Pebble Soup and Coffee & Vanilla

Victoria Sandwich Cake (makes 1 x 8 inch (20 cm) sandwich cake)

Ingredients (You will be able to substitute for an alternative plain gluten free flour blend at 260g - although results of texture may vary. An alternative ready-mixed rice-free blend can be purchased from the Free From Fairy - link in side bar)

260g plain GF flour blend (I used my rice-free blend that you can find instructions for here)
pinch fine sea salt
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
240g softened butter/dairy free alternative
250g caster sugar (works best with bog-standard white)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs - must be at room temperature 
120 ml dairy free or cows milk

approx 280 to 300g good quality raspberry/strawberry jam
icing sugar to dust 


  1. Base line two 8 inch (20 cm) loose-bottomed, round cake tins with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Weigh and mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and set aside (I mix mine in a large airtight container and shake well).
  3. In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to cream the butter with the caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs together until well blended and then very gradually add them to the butter mix a little at a time and beat thoroughly, making sure each addition is well-blended before adding the next and adding a tablespoon of flour mix to the bowl if the mixture looks like it may curdle. 
  5. Sift about a third of the flour into the mixing bowl with about a third of the milk and fold in using a large spoon or spatula.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk about a third at a time. Once all is mixed, you should have a batter with a soft dropping consistency.
  7. Split the cake batter between the two tins evenly and level the tops with the back of a spoon/spatula.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown, a skewer inserted comes out clean and the tops spring back to the touch.
  9. Remove from the oven and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  10. When cold, place one sponge on a serving plate (golden side down) and generously but evenly spread jam across the surface.
  11. Place the second sponge on top of the first (golden side up).
  12. Dust the top with a light sifting of icing sugar and serve.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-17 unless otherwise indicated


  1. Love the picture, thank you for sharing with Inheritance Recipes

    1. Thank you Solange. You're more than welcome. Victoria Sponge is such a classic and every child should know about it! x

  2. You honestly cannot beat a beautiful moist Victoria Sponge...and this looks sublime. Your photo's here are breathtaking Kate. I'll be trying this recipe next time the in-laws are over's my MIL favourite xxx

    1. I agree Rebecca. I really don't make it as much as I should. Somehow, I always opt for something fancier, but this was so good and without all the creamy stuff, the cake really shone through! x

  3. Amazing photos! I can't believe I have never made Victoria Sponge in my life. And yes, I agree, standard recipes not always work with gf flours so this is very handy recipe to have next time I need to make something gf for guests. Thank you for sharing with Inheritance Recipes.

    1. Thanks Margot. Never made a VS? You must rectify that..... gluten free or not! It's such a classic x

  4. your sponge looks really wonderful - I only ever made victoria sponge as an adult so I have never found it to be too challenging - but perhaps it is easier without the weight of tradition behind me (aussie sponge cakes are far lighter) - I imagine all your wheaten victoria sponges really helped you get this GF one just right!

    1. Thank you Johanna. It's funny, when I look back to school, I think my domestic science lessons were some of the most useful I had. They certainly set a base of techniques in place for adulthood! x

  5. A Victoria Sponge is my mum's favourite cake and most of her cakes are just slight flavour adaptations. This one looks great and such a classic!

    1. Thanks Corina. Sometimes the simple cakes turn out to be the best and most versatile! x

  6. What a great bake, and as ou say it's risen so beautifully evenly :-) I have to say being fortunate enough to be able to use regular wheat flour I really didn't appreciate that making a GF Victoria would be hit & miss. Would that perhaps be due to the different blends of GF flours available? Definitely pinning, thankyou for sharing and for joining in with #BakingCrumbs Kate,
    Angela x

    1. Thanks Angela. I was very pleased with the rise!
      The blend of flours with gluten free definitely affects the bake, but the main issue I think, is that gluten free flours tend not to absorb fat as easily as wheat flour and consequently, a number of my like for like attempts ended up greasy and stodgy! But you have to remember that if you reduce fat, you have to compensate with extra liquid in the form of yoghurt, milk, etc.
      Thinking about it, I should have included that wisdom in the post..... I will go back and amend!!!! xx

  7. What a beautiful cake! We're gluten-free here too and my youngest is dairy-free so we need to make this! xx

  8. You are so right that there is nowhere to hide if a Victoria Sponge goes wrong! Yours looks a wonderful bake - you are so clever how you convert to GF. Thanks once again for joining in with #BakeoftheWeek x

  9. This looks so wonderful - you'd never guess it was gluten free. My slice still hasn't arrived in the post though... ;-) Thanks for linking it up to #CookBlogShare. Eb x

    1. Thanks Eb.... Still hasn't arrived? I reckon Mr Postie sniffed it out and ate it!! x

  10. Kate, your Victoria Sponge looks absolutely perfect in every way. You're such an amazing baker! Thanks for joining in with #FreeFromFridays. xxx

  11. Victoria Sandwiches are one of those cakes I snub my nose to when I see it, but then I get a slice and thoroughly enjoy it. Yours looks perfect.

    1. I know Shaheen.... strange isn't it? I always love it when I eat it, but head for 'fancier' cakes almost without thinking! x

  12. Gorgeous as always! LOve a good victoria sandwich cake and I know what you mean about keeping the ratios the same, it just doesn't work with eggfree cakes either - less sugar & fat needed which I guess is a good thing! Never skimp on the jam though!

    1. No Never skimp on the jam! Very important in a Vic Sandwich!!!! x


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