Queen’s chefs share ‘royal recipe’ for Victoria sponge
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This classic Victoria sponge cake is very easy to make and follows the original Victorian recipe enjoyed by Queen Victoria when she was head of state. According to Darren McGrady, the Queen’s former chef, the invention of baking powder in 1843 by Alfred Bird transformed the original Victoria sandwich into a Victoria sponge.
McGrady says the Victoria Sponge should be “crispy on the outside but gorgeous and spongy on the inside”.
He continued: “The Victoria Sponge is one of the first cakes I actually made at culinary school and it was all about the creaming method.
“This was taking the wooden spoon and creaming the butter and sugar until it went all light and fluffy, and you went home with blisters on your hands.
“You had to then add the eggs into there too and then cream those in as well and make sure it didn’t split, and it more often than not did!
“Then with a metal spoon fold in the flour and cut and fold.”
Nowadays, however, with the invention of the food processor, it means making a Victoria Sponge is so much easier.
You throw in the sugar, self-rising flour, unsalted melted butter, and beaten eggs into the food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together.
McGrady warned to make sure the butter is melted because if it’s not you’ll get chunks of butter in the mix.
Once it’s all mixed and there are no lumps in there, it goes into the cake tin lined with a little parchment paper, which helps when turning it out to stop it from sticking on the bottom.
Take your Victoria Sponge batter and divide it between two cake tins, and then place them into the oven for 30 minutes.
Wait until both cakes are completely cold before slicing across the top of one of them to make a nice flat surface.
McGrady says: “I have taken the top off one of the sponges because I want it to sit nice and level.
“We don’t want it to sort of sit like this and then another one balancing on the top!
“The top part you can save and use the sponge for making things like a cherry trifle.”
McGrady uses strawberry jam as that is the classic and was also Queen Victoria’s favourite, as well as Queen Elizabeth’s.
He said: “I’ve seen this made so many different ways – I’ve seen people put whipped cream in there and apricot jam or even buttercream or fresh strawberries in there.
“You know, they all taste good and they all look amazing but I’m making the classic one, the Victoria sponge.
“Queen Victoria after Prince Albert died moved to Osborne House in the Isle of Wight, and they would still make the Victoria Sponge at Buckingham Palace, and then it would go down by train with Queen Victoria and then across to the Isle of Wight for her afternoon tea!”
McGrady advises to come right to the edges of the cake with the jam but not over the sides when putting the lid on because otherwise it will pour over and look really messy.
Next, you can put the lid on top of the jam and complete your Victoria Sandwich, which Queen Victoria herself would be impressed with.
Finally, add the sugar to the top of the cake. The original Victoria Sponge used called caster sugar, not icing sugar.
McGrady added: “At the end of the week, you could have any leftover sponge as a trifle for the weekend – nothing is wasted in Victorian Britain!”
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