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 :
Free From Fridays with Free From Farmhouse
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
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)
- 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.
- 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).
- In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to cream the butter with the caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Split the cake batter between the two tins evenly and level the tops with the back of a spoon/spatula.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown, a skewer inserted comes out clean and the tops spring back to the touch.
- Remove from the oven and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- When cold, place one sponge on a serving plate (golden side down) and generously but evenly spread jam across the surface.
- Place the second sponge on top of the first (golden side up).
- Dust the top with a light sifting of icing sugar and serve.