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Victoria sandwich cake family recipe

August 9, 2015

“It’s a sandwich cake. A sponge cake is made in a totally different way.” That’s the sound of my Mother in law getting cross at the telly when yet another cookery programme calls this British classic a ‘Victoria sponge’.

“Oh looks so good.” “I need this in my life.” “Wow! And yum! Any chance you can get the recipe or is it a closely guarded secret?”Β  That’s the sound of comments on a quickly Instagrammed picture of aforementioned cake, freshly baked by my Mother in law, sandwiched together with a layer of strawberry conserve and homemade buttercream.

There is a secret ingredient to this cake that’s probably used more by bakers of a certain age. Margarine.Β  A highly processed, manufactured ingredient that was marketed successfully as healthier for you (on scant evidence now proved to be suspect), which happened to be much more profitable for the food industry. You can use butter in the recipe but you’ll never get the magnificent rise. If you do go down the margarine route choose your brand carefully and read the label (although if you’ve read ‘Swallow This’ by Joanna Blythman you’ll know that a multitude of sins can be hidden by creative alternative descriptions). Palm oil – demand for and extensive use as a cheap non-dairy alternative has been the catalyst for vast deforestation of the planet putting many species in danger of extinction including orangutans – is often labelled as vegetable oil. Nutella contains palm oil by the way (which is part of the reason you will never find it in my cupboard). Read this ethical shoppers guide to margarine and spreads.

One thing is for sure, whether you use butter or margarine, this is a great tasting cake. Simple, light, not too sweet and a beautiful centrepiece for afternoon tea. My Mother-in-law is a very good cook, and really excels at baking (she was a domestic science teacher). Her pastry is as light as a feather and the first thing I ask her to do at Christmas is make the mince pies. This recipe has been road-tested within her own kitchen, our family and friends and throughout South Devon by hundreds of her past pupils.

This gallery should help you step by step. Click on any image to enlarge and use the arrows to navigate.

Anita's Victoria Sandwich cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 eggs
  • Self-raising flour
  • Baking powder
  • Margarine or softened butter
  • Caster sugar

Ingredients – Butter cream

  • 60g (2oz) butter, softened
  • 120g (4oz) icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Jam (for serving)


  1. Grease and base line 2 x 20 cm (8 inch) diameter, deep Victoria sandwich tins.
  2. Weigh the eggs in their shells. Weigh out the same measurement of self-raising flour, margarine or butter, and caster sugar. So if your eggs are 210g (7 1/4 oz) you will need 210g self-raising flour, 210g margarine or butter, 210g caster sugar. Baking powder should be about 1/2 teaspoon per 70g (2 oz), so in this case would be 1 1/2 teaspoons.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
  4. Weigh the other cake ingredients. Put the flour into a large bowl and stir in the baking powder. Add the margarine, caster sugar and beaten eggs.
  5. Beat (with a hand-mixer or in a stand mixer) on a low-speed to incorporate. Turn your mixer up to full speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. The mixture should be light and airy.
  6. Divide the mixture into the lined tins evenly. It’s a good idea to weigh them for accuracy. Level with a palette knife.
  7. Bake on the middle shelf of a preheated oven at 190 C (170 C fan) for 20- 25 minutes. The cakes should be golden brown and spring back when touched lightly.
  8. Turn out and leave to cool on a rack.
  9. To make the buttercream: Place the softened butter into a bowl (I prefer unsalted). Gradually beat in the icing sugar and vanilla essence until smooth. Spread the buttercream onto the base of one of the cakes with a palette knife. Add thin layer of jam and place the other cake on top (base downwards). Sprinkle with a small amount of caster sugar.

Here’s the picture that started it all over on Instagram:

This second cake was baked as a massive thanks to the staff at Walter C. Parsons in Plympton for their kindness to veggie teen. Top choice if you need funeral services (don’t worry we didn’t).

Do you have a family cake recipe that goes down a storm? Or a relative that’s a legendary cake baker?

  1. August 9, 2015 1:16 pm

    Your cake looks perfect! An oldie, but a goodie. I love Victoria sponge cake.



    • August 11, 2015 8:09 pm

      Thanks Rosa (I think you meant ‘sandwich cake’ πŸ™‚ )

  2. August 9, 2015 3:39 pm

    I believe marg was invented in WW2 as a butter substitute. I think all butter cakes can be delicious but rather rich & a bit greasy. I couldn’t manage to list all the heavenly cakes Mum used to make… rock cakes, coconut tarts, pineapple upside-down cake, caraway seeds cake, farmhouse fruit cake, marble cake… not to mention that she also did a very good version of Auntie Ewa’s coffee walnut cake!

    • August 11, 2015 8:10 pm

      Our childhood was all about the cake πŸ™‚

  3. August 9, 2015 6:01 pm

    This sounds like the victoria sponge my mother makes. Simple but wonderful and leaves the door wide open for a multitude of fillings. It also works well with coconut oil instead of butter or margarine…

    • August 11, 2015 8:10 pm

      That’s good to know about the coconut oil.

  4. August 9, 2015 6:22 pm

    And now I want victoria sponge! I wonder if I send the link to Pete, he’d get the hint?

    • August 11, 2015 8:11 pm

      You should – (but he will know that a sponge is a whisked cake without fat whereas this is a sandwich cake). Send pics of his baking – would love to show my MIL.

  5. Lyn Born permalink
    August 9, 2015 9:14 pm

    Great pics Sally!! Thank you so much. Will post my effort. Hope it lives up to MIL standards!! Xxx

    • August 11, 2015 8:12 pm

      I only expect the very best from you Lyn πŸ™‚

  6. August 9, 2015 9:40 pm

    Looking a little shamefaced over here…. may have made the “sandwich cake / sponge cake” faux pas on many occasions. Oops! Lovely cake though!

  7. August 10, 2015 1:16 am

    Ah this traditional favourite- I love how lovely and fluffy the batter is. And the buttercream keeps such moisture in the layers of cake.

    • August 11, 2015 8:13 pm

      Yes – as much as I like a fresh cream and jam version, buttercream is divine for texture.

  8. August 10, 2015 6:29 am

    I’ll have to try this, I’ve never made Victoria Sponge with margarine or with the ingredients based on the weight of the eggs, it’s such a delicious looking cake!

    • August 11, 2015 8:14 pm

      Let me know how you get on with your sandwich cake lady red specs πŸ™‚

  9. August 10, 2015 8:13 am

    This one is a keeper! Beautiful hands.

  10. August 10, 2015 11:09 am

    Mary Berry also uses margarine in her Victoria sandwich cake, I remember she went on tv with Michel Roux Junior and he wasn’t convinced the one with margarine would taste better do they did a blind test and the margarine one came out best I believe. All the way through Mary was looking as if she was thinking, don’t tell me how to make a Victoria sandwich cake Junion πŸ˜€ A good Victoria sandwich cake is fantastic, my recipe is actually very similar, tho I use butter, of course πŸ˜‰

    • August 11, 2015 8:15 pm

      Of course! MB and my MIL are the same generation so Stork marg was a staple (and they both taught or demo-ed cooking).

  11. August 10, 2015 11:45 am

    Love those step by step photos!

    • August 11, 2015 8:16 pm

      Wish she could be in my kitchen all the time πŸ™‚

  12. August 10, 2015 3:50 pm

    Such a perfect looking cake, and I chuckled at the first line in this post, yes I can hear her and I’ve never met your Mum! πŸ™‚ Beautiful recipe!

    • August 11, 2015 8:17 pm

      You really don’t want to watch Great British Bake off with my Mother-in-Law πŸ™‚

  13. August 10, 2015 6:57 pm

    looks beautiful and delicious!

  14. August 11, 2015 8:45 am

    The pictures are amazing! I Love seeing all of the steps and the cake looks lovely!

    • August 11, 2015 8:18 pm

      Thanks Lynz – no artifice, just real cooking in a homely kitchen. I’m never sure if I’ve beaten the mixture sufficiently so thought the steps to show the colour and textural change would be useful.

  15. August 11, 2015 9:36 am

    Looks perfect Sally…And a great step by step explanation too…hope you are having a fab time with your family in the UK…

    • August 11, 2015 8:19 pm

      I am thanks Shy – glad to escape the heat for a bit too.

  16. August 11, 2015 11:02 am

    Ahh this cake looks delicious! Perfectly spongy and light for summer. I can’t wait to try it! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • August 11, 2015 8:21 pm

      Yes – a perfect recipe for afternoon tea on the lawn.

  17. August 11, 2015 11:35 am

    Ohhh, I love Victoria Sponge – I mean Victoria Sandwich Cake. It’s one of the first things I insisted on eating when I landed in London for the holidays this summer. Lovely story and thanks for sharing the recipe πŸ™‚

    • August 11, 2015 8:21 pm

      Enjoy your time in London Erum.

  18. August 11, 2015 12:39 pm

    I love Victoria Sandwich and yours looks a lovely version

  19. August 11, 2015 4:34 pm

    wow…it looks like a fine dessert to me. i will try this recipe soon….

    • August 11, 2015 8:22 pm

      Let me know how you get on Rani.

  20. August 11, 2015 9:42 pm

    Nothing like a Victoria Sandwich! Lovely blog xx

  21. August 13, 2015 4:51 am

    Looks delicious! Definitely adding to my list to try out!

  22. August 13, 2015 3:41 pm

    What a great photo gallery!! I wish I could try the cake!

  23. August 13, 2015 9:47 pm

    Ah so that’s why Mary Berry prefers margarine… I wonder if she uses an ethical kind?

    I do despair of palm oil being bunged in everything, it’s indicative of cheap food production these days and sneaky they describe it as veg oil.

    That’s a spectacular cake, whether it be sponge or Victoria sandwich!!

  24. August 14, 2015 10:20 pm

    Seems so tasty, oh my… ❀

  25. johnberk permalink
    August 20, 2015 12:53 pm

    Oh my… That Instagram photograph of the finished Victoria Sandwich… It is so spongy I can’t believe my eyes. I don’t understand why you say that it is not a very good photo. On the contrary, it made me hungry…

  26. ninu permalink
    August 24, 2015 11:02 am

    How intriguing ! I have never had a victoria sandwich cake , only read about it , seen it in pictures and drooled over it endlessly. I fear i must remedy this VERY unfortunate situation today ! Any idea where i could get an acceptable margarine in Dubai? Or a suitable substitute for the margarine you used if not butter?
    I love butter , I’m a butter girl all the way. But reading your post makes me want to make it the way you MIL has made it so =)

    • Shirley permalink
      August 26, 2015 5:39 am

      Don’t make it with margarine. Sorry, even if it makes higher cake, it is full of chemicals. Stick with butter. Possibly, the butterfat rate might make a difference, either high as in European butter of lower butterfat as in American butter. Might be interesting to research if anyone has the time.

  27. September 26, 2015 3:58 am

    Seems so tasty, oh my…


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