April 21st is the Queen’s birthday, and I want to celebrate.
As it’s not her official birthday there’s not much in the way of official celebrations happening – just a few gun salutes in central London. This is probably best for Her Majesty as it means she is much more likely to get a little time to spend putting her feet up. But I felt like baking a Victoria sponge and the Queen’s birthday gave me the perfect excuse.
Apparently created by one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, the Victoria sponge was originally simply filled with raspberry jam. The cream arrived in the 20th century, and a very good addition it is as far as I’m concerned. The top is traditionally dusted with icing sugar which looks really pretty.
In reality my cake will be long gone by the 21st, but I will think of her as we eat it, as I would of anyone I know who is celebrating their 91st birthday. I don’t know why, but I have always had a soft spot for the older generation.
And if I could ask her one question? How on earth does she keep her skin looking so good at that age?
Victoria Sponge Cake
For the cake
- 4 medium eggs
- 200 g caster sugar
- 200 g softened butter
- 200 g self-raising flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons milk
For the filling
- 200 ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 200 g raspberry jam
- A little icing sugar
For the cake
- Grease and line two 21cm/8inch cake tins.
- Put the oven shelves above each other, as close together as the cake tins will allow, in the middle of the oven.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork.
- Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric whisk, whisk together until light and fluffy. This should take a couple of minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in using a large metal spoon. You want the mixture to drop off your spoon easily. If it looks too thick then add the milk. Try not to overmix.
- Divide the mixture between the tins as evenly as you can and smooth the tops using a spoon or spatula.
- Place each cake, one above the other, in the centre of the pre-heated oven, and leave to cook for 25 minutes until the top is golden and the cake springs back when you press it.
- Leave to cool in the tins for ten minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
For the filling
- Whip the cream and the teaspoon of sugar together.
- Place the jam in a bowl and beat with a spoon to loosen it.
- Once the cakes are totally cool, spread the whipped cream over one half and put this cake on a plate. Spread the jam over the other half and carefully place this half on top, sandwiching the halves together. Dust the top with icing sugar and serve.