Victoria Sponge, named after the Queen, is an English classic that goes perfectly with a good cup of tea. My strong preference for jam and cream rather than thick sugary frostings is, I always supposed, an English thing I inherited from my mother and her mother. We never sweetened the whipped cream for this cake, but you can if you like.
And do use the highest quality raspberry or strawberry jam or preserves you can find, since it is such a huge part of the cake. The only homemade jam I have left is peach (and that just won't do for this), so I had to use store-bought. I love Cascadian Farm Organic Raspberry Fruit Spread. This recipe takes about a third of a 10-ounce jar.
When I was a little girl reading my mother's English cookery books, all the cakes were 7 inches* instead of the usual 8 or 9 we see in American cookbooks.These days the English, too, are making larger cakes. But I like small wedges of cake for afternoon tea, so I always split and fill one 7-inch round layer rather than sandwiching two layers. Since Victoria sponge contains butter it isn't a true sponge, so the cake freezes quite well. Just double the cake recipe and freeze one layer for another occasion. (I just baked one this time because I couldn't find the second pan!)
For my readers in the UK, I have a British Conversions page (see the link on the horizontal menu bar). But just for fun, I included them in this recipe. If you're not from the UK, call up your inner Anglophile and make this lovely cake. Just looking at it makes me want to give a garden fete!
(Makes one 7-inch/18-cm round layer)
3/4 packed cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces/110 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/60 ml) milk
1/3 cup raspberry or strawberry jam or preserves
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/175 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
Powdered sugar (icing sugar)
1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C /Gas4. Butter well and lightly flour one 7-inch layer pan (18-cm sandwich tin). In small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
2 In medium bowl, with electric mixer (electric hand whisk), cream butter. Butter must be very, very soft to start with. If you didn't get the butter out 3 hours ago, don't try to make this cake. Add sugar and vanilla, and continue creaming until light and fluffy. While beating, slowly drizzle in beaten eggs. Continue beating until light and fluffy. With large metal spoon, fold in the flour mixture after sifting it over the batter. Stir in the milk. You may not need the entire 1/4 cup; batter should be rather stiff, of a consistency to drop from the spoon.
3 Pour into prepared pan/tin. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not underbake.
4 Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack for an hour.
5 Not long before serving, whip cream and vanilla (and not more than 2 teaspoons of sugar, if you really must!) until stiff. As you can see in the photo, I go a little crazy with the cream; you could probably just use 1/2 cup. Split cake and spread bottom half with jam and top half with whipped cream. Put top half in place and sprinkle with powdered sugar (icing sugar). Cut into 6 or 8 wedges.
* A 7-inch cake pan might be unusual to Americans; but since that was the "English" thing, I of course had to have the 7-inch tins. I've had mine forever. Now, as then, they can be a bit hard to find. Order here: Parrish Magic Line 7 x 2 Inch Round Aluminum Cake Pan.
Note: A couple of readers just told me their ovens are out of order just now, so I've added this recommendation: Cuisinart TOB-195 Exact Heat Toaster Oven Broiler, Stainless.