Picture the scene. The table is laid with a crisp white linen cloth; the china is daintily-patterned; and the cutlery is sparkling. Taking pride of place is a perfect sponge, beautifully risen, and oozing strawberry jam and cream. Sounds like someone else's house, doesn't it? Well, while you may not have the antique accessories, you can certainly make the cake… just don't tell your guests how easy it was!
The Victoria Sponge
Possibly named after Queen Victoria (who is said to have enjoyed a slice with her afternoon tea), the Victoria Sponge has been around for a long time. The traditional (and time-consuming, not to mention difficult) method involves adding ingredients one by one, and usually includes butter as the fat. This results in a richly-flavoured sponge that can be slightly heavy.
The all-in-one method is a far quicker and simpler way of making the Victoria Sponge. It uses soft margarine – a blessing for cake-makers. Along with food mixers or processors, the invention of soft margarine has reduced the time involved in creating a sponge cake – but not the quality of the end product. The all-in-one method below produces a cake that isn't just light and airy, but keeps exceptionally well, too.
The Easiest Recipe Ever
For this recipe you will need two 8" sandwich tins, greased and then lined with greased greaseproof paper or baking parchment. As you're cutting out circles of greaseproof, why not cut out several to keep ready for the next time?
The first things to do are switch on the oven and grease the tins. Oven Temperatures can vary from oven to oven and you might need to try different settings to see which suits your oven best. Use gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) if baking for 30-35 minutes; or gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C) for 20 minutes.
Ingredients for an 8" cake
3 free-range large eggs
175g (6oz) of margarine
175g (6oz) caster sugar
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
You'll also need some baking powder. If you're using an electric whisk, a teaspoonful should be fine; if you're using a processor, add a bit more – about 1½ teaspoonfuls.
You might like to use flavoured sugar. Pop a vanilla pod in some caster sugar and leave it for at least three weeks. The flavour will penetrate the whole of your sponge cake. Or try lemon, cinnamon or rose-petal scented sugar.
The method is just as simple. Sieve the flour and baking powder together, add the sugar, margarine and eggs, and whisk (or blend in a processor). Easy peasy.
Continue, scraping down the sides occasionally, until you have a well-combined mixture that will drop off a spoon when tapped. If it seems a little stodgy, add a tiny drop of milk.
Divide the mixture between the two tins and level off the tops. Pop the tins in the centre of the oven and, after setting the timer, make yourself a well-deserved cup of tea.
Don't open the oven until at least half of the allotted time has passed. Open too soon, let in cold air, and you're destined for a flat sponge cake.
Is it Cooked?
You can tell if a layer is Cooked by pressing lightly on the centre: if it springs back up, it's cooked. Or if the cake is starting to come away from the edges of the tin, it's cooked.
Leave the sponges for a few minutes to cool, before taking from their tins and leaving to cool thoroughly on a cooling tray.
Choosing the Filling
A thick layer of Home-made Strawberry Jam and stiffly-whipped double cream is hard to beat but there are plenty of alternatives. For example, if you've used lemon-flavoured sugar, lemon curd or lemon butter icing would make a good filling. Chocolate Buttercream, raspberries and mascarpone, cherry jam, it can be as exotic or simple as you want to make it.
Make it Yours
Once confident with the basics, vary the sponge to suit your tastes.
Make a chocolate sponge: Replace 3 level tablespoons of the flour with an equal amount of cocoa. Sieve the cocoa in with the flour, or for a slightly more moist cake, make a paste.
For a citrus flavour: Add the finely grated rind of an orange or lemon to the mixture. You could also use some of the juice to mix with icing sugar to make a topping for the cake.
Coffee cake:Two teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in 1tbsp warm water and added to the mixture makes a very adult cake – especially if filled with a chopped walnut and Tia Maria buttercream.
And to Keep it (if You Can!)
Store the finished cake in an airtight container (in the fridge if the filling contains cream). That is if it lasts long enough to need storing! Read more storing tips in our Storing Article.
The Icing on the Cake...
Once you have mastered the sponge cake, why not try simple decoration techniques to turn your cake into something special? Read our article Easy Cake Decorating to get you started.
I love Bake. I have decised to learn form you page. Any necessary assistance will be appreciated.
Maggie - 26-Jun-13 @ 8:47 AM
I made this all-in one sponge last night. I used espresso powder (dissolve in water) for a coffee flavour and cooked it on the higher temperature in 2 x 8" tins. From start to finish it took 30 mins (including cooking time) and it came out perfectly. Will definitely use this recipe again as I hate all that creaming the butter/sugar first.
Perfect cake recipe! - 13-May-13 @ 10:21 AM
Can you tell me whether the recommended temperature settings given in your recipes for electric ovens is for fan ovens,or should I reduce the given setting?
wendy - 12-Mar-13 @ 11:55 PM
my cakes do not turn out right, too dry, i have even tried adding milk or water in the mixture but still does not work.please help
painintheneck - 7-Sep-12 @ 2:54 PM
i love baking but the weight piles on, i know this is a silly question - any idea for a low fat cake?
when in the past i have baked i added a teapoon full of red chillie powder, trust me its not hot jus pleasent, try it
Yazi - 7-Sep-12 @ 2:50 PM
im after a recipe for a 10inch square victoria sponge
sue - 21-May-12 @ 10:43 PM
Hello I just wanted to know to make this cake what size baking tins will I need, im not sure as all new to baking lol.
Hello! I've hired a '1' shaped mould for my daughter's birthday cake - I've tried your best ever chocolate cake recipe in it and it worked quite well (I think!) but wanting to try the classic sponge in it. What do you recommend for using shaped moulds? Halve the mixture? Two bakes and sandwich together? Thanks for any advice you can offer!
Hellie - 12-Nov-11 @ 9:54 AM
yummy mixture, the cake is still cooking so not sure what it will taste like yet, but was a quick mix to make:)
billyb282 - 1-Nov-11 @ 5:23 PM
brilliant recipe it was delicious :)
cakelover!! - 14-Oct-11 @ 9:58 PM
@steve - you can Freeze it (un-iced) for a couple of months. It will keep for five days or so if it's iced with jam/buttercream. If you use fresh cream then we'd suggest using it within 24 hours of making it.
CakeBaker - 19-Sep-11 @ 9:38 AM
i want to make this cake for my wifes birthday, how long will it last?
steve - 16-Sep-11 @ 6:41 PM
I'm wanting to make a three tiered victoria sponge cake. It's for a wedding and the plan is to make it 3 tiered and have the oustide completely iced.
Please could you give me tips on:
- quantities and cooking times for each level of the cake
- ideas for decoration
- I want to avoid butter and fondant/ icing...would clotted cream or marscapone chees and cream withstand a day (a possibly the heat as the wedding's at the end of the summer)?
kp - 6-Aug-11 @ 6:27 PM
Dear cakebaker, I am baking a choclate cigerella wedding cake for my best friends wedding, which I will split and butter cream.
There are so many choclate sponge recipe's andI amnot sure which cake recipe will be best to use so that once it is made it will keep for a few weeks for the wedding. Please could you advise me ASAP.
And I have a standard oven size which is a fan oven, so I am not even sure which cake tin size to use, although I plan it to be 3"in depth, please could you advise me on this as well.Thank you sooo much. And best wishes for your support, help and expert advice.
Maria - 2-Aug-11 @ 11:54 AM
Thanks sooo much I aint a bad cook but when it comes to baking I have always been rubbish n never get it right tried this and 100 % perfect n yum I added vanilla to the mix n also used 4 eggs and hand wisked. I will now make this again n again and try with different flavours.
raybat - 13-Jul-11 @ 1:23 AM
I've tried a few and this is the best and easiest recipe i've used. Out of interest i did increase to 8oz and 4 eggs to make it bigger and there were no problems. Chaz
chaz - 9-Jun-11 @ 9:19 AM
This recipe is easy to make and scrumptiouse!!!!
:D loved it loved it loved it!!
Rachiibabeeey:) - 27-Apr-11 @ 3:03 PM
Brilliant made it by hand as I didn't have any baking powder. Came out moist and light. Got to make more for my kids.
sparks - 31-Mar-11 @ 9:32 PM
Thank-you for this lovely recipe!
peppey - 26-Mar-11 @ 11:50 AM
I wanted a simple sponge cake recipe and this is what I found. Simple, quick,easy and delicious. What more can I say, excellent! Thank you!
fatcakelady - 24-Mar-11 @ 11:55 AM
Hello, I love to have a chocolate cake at the end of sunday lunch and this recipe was BRILLIANT! Thank-you for opening my eyes to home baking and not packet mixes!