Mary Berry’s Victoria Sponge Cake

A modern twist to the classic English sponge cake, with a juicy berry centre, hints of buttercream and a crunch of meringue. 

There were no catty fights, no heated kitchen outbursts, no off-set meltdowns. The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) was nothing like the drama-fuelled reality cooking shows of North America.

I was so accustomed for the shows to leave on a commercial break, teasing the possibility of a cake to topple over or chefs to brawl, that I forgot what it was like to watch TV stress-free. As in, does this really have to be a war of cakes? We can only be so serious with words like cupcakes and bonbons.

What you end up seeing on GBBO aren’t egos or forced handshakes, but rather civilized competitors who genuinely eager to lend a hand to their opponents. Instead of dramatic lighting, contestants are in a colourful field of gingham tea towels and pastel KitchenAid mixers. It ends up being the perfect setting to make friends, not rivals.

I have GBBO to thank for priming me into the well-mannered culture of the English. I also have GBBO to thank for introducing me to The Great Mary Berry, 84-year-old queen of cakes and the culinary mastermind behind this Victoria sponge recipe.

In the making

✘ When making the buttercream, incorporate the milk slowly with a tablespoon each. Make sure it’s not too runny, or else it’ll be sliding off your jam and oozing out the sides.

✔ Grease your cake tins heavily, especially the sides. There’s no icing to cover up any chipped or broken edges from your cake! 

✔ Don’t have self-raising flour? Make your own with 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. (Double this mixture for this recipe) 

✔ Let your meringues to cool fully in the oven. If you take them out too soon, they’ll be chewy on the inside. 

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Mary Berry's Victoria sponge with buttercream

  • Servings: one eight-inch cake
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

A modern twist to the classic English sponge cake, with a juicy berry centre, hints of buttercream and a crunch of meringue.

Credit: BBC.com for the cake and filling, bakingmad.com for the meringue

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

For the jam

  • 200g raspberries
  • 250g jam sugar

For the buttercream

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 125g white caster sugar
  • 125g icing sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins: use a piece of baking or silicone paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking paper.

  2. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder and soft butter. Mix everything together until well combined. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop. The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency.

  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins. Use a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.

  4. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door while they’re cooking, but after 20 minutes do look through the door to check them.

  5. The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.

For the jam 

  1. While the cakes are cooking, make the jam. Put the raspberries in a small deep-sided saucepan and crush them with a masher. Add the sugar and bring to the boil over a low heat until the sugar has melted. Increase the heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into a shallow container. Leave to cool and set.

For the buttercream

  1. For the buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.

  2. Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth.

  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk if the buttercream is too thick. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.

For the meringues

  1. To make the meringues; preheat the oven to 110°C (100°C/gas mark 4) and line several baking trays with non-stick paper. 

  2. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they become fluffy with stiff peaks.
  3. Gradually spoon in the caster sugar, mixing for a few seconds between each addition. This should thicken the mixture and add a sheen.
  4. With a metal spoon or spatula, fold in the icing sugar in four amounts. Then fill into a piping bag, fitted with a star nozzle and pipe small circles of meringue onto your baking trays.
  5. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues to cool inside.

To assemble

  1. Choose the sponge with the best top, then put the other cake top-down on to a serving plate.
  2. Spread with the jam then pipe the buttercream on top of the jam.
  3. Place the other sponge on top (top uppermost) and sprinkle with caster sugar to serve.

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