The PERFECT Gluten Free Victoria Sponge Recipe – Balanced for texture and flavour to be exactly as it should be, but without the gluten. Rice free; Nut free; Optional dairy free.
Originally posted 12th November 2017. Post updated 12th May 2022
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Every Coeliac NEEDS a PERFECT Gluten Free Victoria Sponge Recipe
THIS is my Gluten Free Victoria Sponge. Simple… Iconic… Delicious. Because EVERY Coeliac (or gluten avoider) NEEDS a perfect Victoria Sandwich Cake recipe in their lives. Sometimes, nothing else will do…
A Victoria Sponge should be uncomplicated… Two layers of ‘plain’ vanilla-infused cake, sandwiched with red jam… Most often raspberry, but strawberry is popular too. It should be light, balanced, moist but not dense and risen to perfection… No humps and spirit-level even. A cake fit for any tea-time table… And an exceptional and quintessential offering for bake sales, coffee mornings, afternoon teas and sharing with friends.
Whether an extra layer of buttercream or cream should accompany the jam is an interesting debate. I personally think a good Victoria Sandwich needs nothing more… The sponge should speak for itself… And will shine with a hint of fruity sweetness from the jam. The addition of anything else is unnecessary and quite possibly ‘sacrilege’… I am not alone in this… The esteemed Women’s Institute goes with the jam-only rule too.
Why choose this Gluten Free Victoria Sponge recipe?
My Gluten Free Victoria Sponge recipe is not new to the blog. It’s been here since 2017. But why should you choose this particular recipe over others that are out there?
First and foremost, because it’s totally delicious. I spent endless hours in the kitchen testing and tweaking to get both texture and flavour exactly as it should be. While there may be ‘defined ratios’ for a Victoria Sandwich in ‘wheat world’, when it comes to gluten free baking, a straight switch out of flours isn’t going to cut it… That is, if you want to get comparable results.
The effort was worth it though, because:
- The resulting sponge is perfectly textured, light and moist.
- It’s the real deal… made by traditional methods that ensure a classic result.
- And no one will ever know it’s gluten free. How do I know? Because it’s been tested with endless wheat-eaters, who had nothing but praise for its texture and flavour… And not one of them ever questioned its flour status.
Is a Gluten Free Victoria Sandwich Cake easy to make?
Whether a gluten free Victoria Sandwich (or indeed any Victoria Sandwich) is easy to make, is not a straight forward question. While it always looks the most simple of bakes, it is the sponge which defines whether you are a good baker or a great baker. But once you are comfortable with the basic techniques for making it, cakes will feel like a walk in the park…
Without a doubt, this is the reason why it is always on the curriculum in school cookery classes… It is, above any other recipe, the cake that teaches about crumb, texture, density, rise and flavour. It shares the principles of ratio, of creaming butter with sugar, of beating eggs without curdling and of folding flour with a gentleness that ensures lightness worthy of the great queen herself. All these are skills that once mastered, will serve any baker for life.
Indeed, because it is such an iconic bake, there is nowhere to hide if it goes wrong. Throw in the gluten free curve ball and things might feel less predictable. But that said… It’s not a difficult recipe and absolutely worthy of your time.
Crumb and texture are everything…
So, what are we looking for in a great Victoria Sponge? Ultimately it comes down to texture and crumb… Forget ‘it looks like it should’. The test to any cake is what it tastes like and how it feels to eat. Unquestionably at Gluten Free Alchemist, if the texture isn’t right, the bake doesn’t make the blog.
When it came to developing my Victoria Sponge, the ‘standard’ ratios did not produce the same results when the gluten was removed… In fact, the cakes were quite fickle and unpredictable.
Hence… adjustments have been made to balance structure and moisture levels both with egg size and a drop of milk, to compensate for the high absorbency levels of gluten free flour. And to adjust the fat-flour ratio to account for the fact that gluten free flours don’t usually absorb fat as easily. Yes… I’ve done the hard work for you.
Creaming method vs ‘all-in-one’ – Which is best for making a Victoria Sponge?
The recipe shared here is for a traditionally-made Victoria Sponge. That is… One that has had butter creamed into sugar until it is pale and fluffy, before adding the eggs and other ingredients to the bowl. This simple act (if done properly) beats additional air into the mix, supporting natural rise and lightness.
Of course, I fully understand that switching to the ‘all-in-one’ method (where all the ingredients are unceremoniously dumped into a bowl together and beaten at the same time) holds great temptation. It saves time and sounds straight forward. However, it honestly has no place (in my humble opinion) in the world of Victoria Sandwich baking. It may allure with its simplicity, but the results will never be the same.
Does the gluten free flour blend matter?
Anyone who knows my bakes will know that yes… The blend of gluten free flours used in any cake, matters. Using one single-origin gluten free flour (such as buckwheat flour, rice flour or tapioca flour, for example) will result in a baking disaster. Gluten free flours need to be blended together to mimic the structure and qualities that are obtained from standard wheat flour. But which flours are used in the blend and how they are balanced alongside each other is equally important.
For this particular Gluten Free Victoria Sponge recipe, I used my homemade gluten free – rice free Blend B (which can be found at the bottom of my Gluten Free Flours and Flour Blending Page). It’s balanced and versatile.
However, if flour-blending isn’t your thing, the recipe should also work fine with an alternative blend. The usual suspects such as Doves Freee Plain White are good, although because of the high levels of rice flour, you may need to add a drop more milk to compensate for dryness. Check the consistency of the batter before transferring to the cake tins (see below).
Does this recipe need xanthan gum?
I’ve tested this Victoria Sandwich recipe both with and without xanthan gum. And while it has a slightly better structure with a little added (and thus I recommend using it), it works well without too.
My tests however, have been using my rice free Blend B, which has a better balance of protein flours than most commercial blends. Thus, I would recommend if using an alternative rice-heavy blend, that xanthan gum be considered an essential ingredient, to ensure adequate binding and structure.
Remember however to check your chosen flour blend ingredients… Some already contain xanthan gum in the mix. Doves Gluten Free Plain doesn’t, but their Self-Raising does. If the blend used already contains xanthan gum, reduce the amount added to ¼ teaspoon only.
Ultimately, if you aren’t happy with using xanthan gum (or you are unable to tolerate it), then leave it out.
Can I use psyllium husk instead of xanthan gum?
Yes. Psyllium husk is an appropriate alternative to xanthan gum. And no… It won’t result in a denser sponge. However, it will need to be subbed at 1½ times the amount stated for the cake and I would advise adding an additional drop of milk to compensate for its greater absorbency.
What is the secret to making a good Gluten Free Victoria Sponge? Tips for a perfect batter…
- WEIGH the ingredients with care. The Victoria Sponge (perhaps above all others) is about precision and consistency. For this you will need some reliable digital kitchen scales.
- Make sure ALL the ingredients are at room temperature. That means taking the eggs from the fridge for a good couple of hours and allowing the butter to soften fully.
- Use block butter (or dairy free alternative) rather than the hybrid ‘spreadable’ options or soft margarine. Not doing so will negatively affect the structure of the bake.
- Beat the butter with the sugar for at least 2 to 3 minutes. One of the key secrets to a great Victoria Sponge is getting as much air into the mix as possible.
- Beat/blend the eggs together in a bowl (using a fork) before adding to the mix. And then add to the creamed butter-sugar very gradually, whisking well with each addition to ensure they are fully amalgamated. This will lessen the chance of curdling.
- If the mix starts to look like it’s ‘curdling’ (the eggs and butter are separating and becoming lumpy), don’t panic! Simply add a tablespoon of flour and whisk through. This should help the mixture to amalgamate.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, before beating a final time. It’s important that the blend is even.
- SIFT the flour for the best lightness and texture. And fold in with a large spoon using high folds to ensure you maintain as much air as possible.
- Check the consistency of the batter. You are looking for a consistency that drops easily but without running off the spoon (ie. ‘soft dropping’). If it seems too thick, loosen very slightly with a drop of milk.
Should I weigh my eggs when making a gluten free Victoria Sponge?
Anyone familiar with a traditional wheat flour Victoria Cake recipe, will know that generally, the eggs are weighed first (in shells) and then the weight of all the other ingredients follow from that. We know however, that gluten free baking is less predictable… So, should the eggs be weighed for a gluten free Victoria Sponge?
Again, I’ve made this recipe by weighing the eggs and also, by randomly picking from the box while keeping my fingers crossed… Interestingly, it’s been fine regardless of the method used.
However, just to be clear… This particular gluten free Victoria Sponge recipe uses UK LARGE eggs. Be aware that not all eggs are sized the same and that depending on where you live in the world, your large eggs may not be the same as my large eggs… If in any doubt, check out my International Egg Size and Weight Comparison Chart, to be sure.
As a general guide, the approximate LIQUID WEIGHT of the eggs used (which will be more accurate, particularly if subbing a different size egg) is between 233g and 236g.
How can I tell when my cake is done?
To avoid an over-baked sponge (which will be dry and possibly, crumbly), I would always recommend testing the sponge with a cake skewer or wooden toothpick. Open the oven door (do not take the cake out, but pull the rack slightly towards you to get enough access)… Gently poke it into the centre of the sponge… If it comes out clean (or with just a couple of crumbs attached), then the cake is done!
If, however, the skewer has wet cake batter stuck to it, it needs a bit longer! But be vigilant… Just an extra couple of minutes can make a big difference to a nearly baked cake.
Is this gluten free Victoria Sandwich recipe safe for Coeliacs (Celiacs)?
Yes. Absolutely! This Victoria Sponge has been created especially for the gluten free community and thus is completely safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac Disease). As always however, double check the labels for all ingredients used to be sure there is no hidden gluten or ‘may contain’ warnings. For this recipe, the baking powder and any flours used must be certified gluten free.
Can I make this Victoria Sponge dairy free as well as gluten free?
Yes. The only dairy ingredients used in the recipe are butter and a drop of milk… Both of which can be switched for dairy free alternatives if needed. Just make sure the butter sub is of the firm, ‘block’ variety – such as Flora baking block or Stork Baking Block.
Can I make this gluten free Victoria Sponge without eggs and Vegan?
Probably… But I haven’t tried and therefore I can’t tell you whether it works… To be honest, I get really annoyed with bloggers who tell you something works with egg replacement without testing it. It’s simply wrong to do so.
Nonetheless, if you want to try with your usual egg replacer (and using dairy free butter and milk as well), then please let me know how you get on.
Is this recipe nut free?
Yes again! I have deliberately avoided using any nut flours when making this Victoria Sandwich, to ensure that it is as accessible as possible. As always however, if making the cake for someone with a nut allergy or intolerance, double check ALL ingredient labels to make sure they are completely safe.
I know it’s not traditional, but can I use ground almonds in this recipe?
Although Victoria Sponge is not traditionally a bake that has a ‘nutty’ texture or flavour, if you want to add ground almonds to the mix, then that is fine. I would suggest a replacement of about 100g of the flour for almond meal.
Do I need any special equipment to make this Gluten Free Victoria Sponge recipe?
I don’t think so… All you need to make my gluten free Victoria Sponge is probably already in your kitchen. However, as a quick guide, you’ll need…
- A set of accurate Kitchen Weighing Scales – consistency is important in baking!
- Measuring Spoons – for accuracy.
- Mixing bowls – for weighing, blending and whisking.
- A sturdy and reliable Electric Whisk – This is the hand whisk I now use (it’s been a game-changer for quality and usability), but a stand-mixer is also fine too.
- A large and flexible mixing spoon – I honestly couldn’t live without this silicone spoon-spatula in my kitchen.
- TWO 8-inch round baking tins (preferably with a loose bottom, for easy removal).
- Some good-quality baking parchment (Lakeland baking paper is the only brand I trust).
- An oven… obviously!
- Wire racks to cool your cakes. These stackable ones are fabulous for saving space!
How long will this Gluten Free Victoria Sponge Cake keep and how should I store it?
My Victoria Sandwich should keep for 3 to 4 days, if stored in an airtight container. Of course, as with most cakes, it will dry over time and if the cake was over-baked to start with, then it will not last as long… You’ll know when it’s past its best.
Store the cake in a coolish, dark place at room temperature, and NOT in the fridge.
Can I freeze this cake?
Yes. It’s fine to freeze the sponge. However, I would recommend that this is as plain sponges and before the cake is filled. The process of freezing and defrosting may cause the jam to ‘bleed’ into the sponge and any buttercream (if you have decided to use it) won’t taste great after freezing.
To freeze, separate the cakes by placing a piece of baking paper between them, wrap tightly in cling-film and a second layer of foil and freeze. They should be good for 2 to 3 months.
When ready to eat… Remove from the freezer and allow to defrost at room temperature (wrapped). Then fill and decorate as usual.
Ready to make Gluten Free Victoria Sponge?
And that’s all there is to tell you… Thank you for reading. I hope my experience helps you too in making a fabulous gluten free Victoria Sponge Cake. If you do make it, I’d love to hear how it went… Leave a comment below, rate the recipe or tag me on social media with your delicious cake photos. (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest – #glutenfreealchemist).
If you need more delicious gluten free Layer Cake inspiration, why not head over to our dedicated Big Cakes and Celebration Cakes Index…
And for everything else… Our enormous Gluten Free Recipe Index is the place to start… Hundreds of recipes shared for FREE with my love
Divine alternative homemade jams for Victoria Layer Cake…
- Rhubarb, Strawberry and Cointreau Jam
- Mixed Berry and Apple Jam
- Strawberry, Rhubarb and Pomegranate Jam
Other gluten free layer cakes you’ll love…
Gluten Free Victoria Sponge Cake
- flat knife
- 260 g plain gluten free flour blend eg. Gluten Free Alchemist Mix B – See NOTES
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1 tsp xanthan gum – will work without if intolerant
- 2 tsp baking powder gluten free
- 250 g butter or dairy free alternative softened (use a block butter/alternative)
- 250 g caster sugar super-fine sugar
- 4 large eggs MUST be at room temperature – lightly beaten – UK large size (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’ – Approx 233 to 236 liquid weight
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tbsp milk (or dairy free alternative) or more as required to achieve soft dropping consistency
Filling and decoration
- 280 g good quality raspberry/strawberry jam approx weight
- icing sugar to dust (confectioners/powdered sugar)
- Base-line two 8 inch (20 cm) loose-bottomed, non-stick, round cake tins with baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. (170 fan)
- Weigh and mix together the flour, salt, xanthan gum and baking powder and set aside. (TIP: Weigh into a large airtight container and shake well)
- In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to cream the softened butter with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat for a good 2 to 3 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs together until well blended, with a fork.
- Gradually add the egg to the butter mix a little at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition. (If the mixture looks like it's curdling (separating), add a tablespoon of the weighed flour to the bowl and beat through)
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla extract and whisk again, until combined and even.
- Sift about a third of the flour into the mixing bowl and fold in using a large spoon or spatula.
- Repeat with the rest of the flour a third at a time.
- Test the consistency of the batter, by dropping from the spoon. If it seems a little stiff add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk and gently fold through (it should be a soft dropping consistency).
- Split the cake batter evenly between the two tins 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 leave to cool in the tins for about 5 minutes, before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely. It may help to run a sharp, flat knife round the edges of the tin to loosen as necessary.
- 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.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist