Food: Victoria Sandwich

Classic British Victoria Sandwich

I have no idea what the WI do.

Since I was a little girl there’s been a WI just around the corner from wherever I lived, and I’ve heard “Jam and Jerusalem” thrown about ad infinatum, but I have no idea what they do any more.

Is it all old people, as I suspected as a child, or are there young members running around knitting and analysing baked goods? Other than listening to talks about peculiar subjects, what do they do? During their centenary celebrations last year, did they finalise a secret plot for world domination, a plot that is about to come to final and terrifying fruition? Or is it just a group of people deeply passionate about cooking in the specific way that requires stringent rules about the set of jam and whether or not buttercream belongs in a Victoria Sandwich.

In my opinion it does, and a Victoria Sandwich without buttercream, as is suggested by the WI, is a travesty. So there.

Victoria Sandwich

Classic British Victoria Sandwich

Makes an 8-inch cake, using my measures

A Victoria Sandwich is a quintessential British cake, and also a source of great debate. Whipped cream or buttercream? No cream? Strawberry jam, or raspberry? Dusted with icing sugar, or no? Here I provide what is, in my family, the proper way to do a Victoria Sandwich, and the ratio (yup, ratio!) involved.

This recipe is more of a ratio than a recipe, but it gives a good result every time. First, weigh your eggs in their shells, and make a note of the weight. You will need the same weight of plain flour, butter and sugar as there was of eggs. In addition, for every egg you will need 0.5tsp baking powder. So, my eggs weighed 6.6oz total, so I needed…

4 eggs
6.6oz sugar
6.6oz butter or baking margarine
6.6oz plain flour
2tsp baking powder

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat eggs in a jug, and stir into the butter and sugar. Adding a little at a time will help stop the mix from splitting. If it does split add a little of the flour to help bring it back together before continuing, though a split mix is not the end of the world.
  3. Sift the flour with the baking powder then gently fold it in to the rest of the mixture, being careful not to beat out too much of the air.
  4. Split the mixture between two greased, lined cake tins. Smoothing the tops should lead to nicely domed sponges, making a well in the centre can help keep everything more flat. It’s up to you!
  5. Bake at 180c until the top begins to brown and the centre of the cake demonstrates a wonderful texture that springs back when pressed, or a toothpick stuck in the centre comes out a clean. Mine took 15 minutes, but it varies according to the thickness of your cake. Leave to cool completely.


This was enough to fill my 8 inch spongecake (the 4 egg sponge above).

75g proper butter
175g icing sugar, sifted
4-6tbsp jam

  1. Soften the butter by leaving it at room temperature for a while, half an hour usually does the trick.
  2. Sift the icing sugar, and beat it in. You can use an electric beater, or lots of energy and a wooden spoon for this.
  3. Coat the top of the lower sponge in a generous layer of buttercream. Smear the underside of the upper sponge with jam.
  4. Sandwich the sponges together and, if desired, dust with a little more icing sugar.


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