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The Victoria Sponge's True Identity

Thank you for all your responses on the typical British cake to eat with tea. The answer is either a light fruit cake, a Victoria sponge, or a seed cake. It's unclear if one of these is really more typical than another, but those were the ones you collectively prefered.

What I noticed in your answers, however, is that there is no consensus on what a Victoria sponge should be flavored filled with. hungry_pixel presumed Victoria sponges would taste like vanilla. On the contrary, billyabbott prefers jam-filled ones. sam_t commented on cream, buttercream, and raspberry jam versions. ladymoonray didn't specify if she was thinking of a particular kind of them. sollersuk mentioned butter icing or jam, without specifying kinds.

So - what SHOULD a Victoria sponge be layered with? And are there any limits on the appropriate kind of jam to use with them, and still call it a Victoria sponge? Any kind of jam at all? Would you be as happy with apricot jam as with marmelade as with pineapple jam? Are you allowed to have more than one flavor filling, i.e. a layer of buttercream AND a layer of jam? Or must a Victoria sponge have a single layer of filling?

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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
billyabbott
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:03 pm (UTC)
I don't the filling has any bearing on the naming of the cake as a Victoria sponge, but in my mind they always contain red jam of some kind. The addition of buttercream either on top of the cake or along with or instead of jam in the middle is all permissable in my book. But then again, I am quite permissive when it comes to the creation of cakey goodness.
ladymoonray
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
I agree. Icing sugar on top is also good.
owlfish
Mar. 26th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
Bring on the sweet potato jam Victoria sponge cakes?
edwardaftung
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
How to make a post here?
Hi guys im a n00bie here. How to post to friends? I posted something on main page (thinking it would appear here), which seems dead, and I should wish to post to this (friends) forum.
taldragon
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)
Re: How to make a post here?
the profile is just information about that person. if you want to comment to owlfish's post..well..you just did it :)

if you want to post to your journal, there should be a "post" option in the menu bar in your own LJ.
sammywol
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:21 pm (UTC)
Most English village shows or WI competitions restrict fillings to raspberry jam on its own. However, most village shows are fascistic and morally fillings should be judged on flavour and personal preference alone. The best Victoria Sponge filling I ever met was raspberry sorbet and home made vanilla ice-cream - and that was at a tennis club tea so very pukka!
sam_t
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
In my family, the sponge was plain and the filling was raspberry jam, strawberry jam or (for special occasions) vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam, in order of frequency. I'm not sure how far the definition of a Victoria Sponge stretches, though. Flavoured sponges are definitely out (e.g. a coffee-flavoured sponge with coffee buttercream would just be 'coffee sponge cake') and I can't really imagine putting marmalade on a plain sponge (I think it would be too tart) but where the line is drawn with reference to gooseberry jam, for example, is beyond me.
nineveh_uk
Mar. 26th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
Red or green goosberries?
sam_t
Mar. 27th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
The only gooseberry jam I've had was made by my great-aunt from her own gooseberries, and I don't know what sort she had. The jam was red-ish (and very tasty), though.
chickenfeet2003
Mar. 26th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
I would say that it is the sponge itself that identifies it as a Victoria sponge. My mother usually filled it with a layer of buttercream and a layer of apricot or strawberry jam.
owlfish
Mar. 26th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
If the sponge itself identifies the cake, does it need to have a filling to count?
chickenfeet2003
Mar. 26th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
It's an interesting but perhaps rather academic point. I don't think I've ever come across an unfilled one
owlfish
Mar. 26th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
I ask because no one else has implied the possibility of an unfilled Victoria sponge. If it's just the sponge, what makes a Victoria sponge different from any other kind of sponge cake?
haggisthesecond
Mar. 26th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I always think of a Victoria sponge as having layers (whether this is two separately baked layers or one cake cut to create two vertical layers doesn't matter), which implies there must be something between them, if only to hold them together.
owlfish
Mar. 26th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
What a pointless question this was. I really wasn't asking what I meant!
rosathome
Mar. 26th, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
There is a difference between flavouring and layering. Flavouring refers to the cake itself and should only be vanilla in a true Victoria sponge. Other flavours (chocolate, coffee etc.) would be called by that name - chocolate sponge, coffee sponge...

The layering of a Victoria sponge is traditionally jam in the middle with a dusting of icing sugar on top. Buttercream is commonly used instead of or in addition to the jam. Generally raspberry or strawberry jam are used, though I've had a delicious blackberry jam Victoria sponge. I wouldn't use apricot jam personally, marmalade would be an abomination, and pineapple jam I've never heard of.

Some people also like to ice the top of the cake. You might put more buttercream here (especially if you want it to be special, e.g. for a birthday cake) but then it stops feeling like a true Victoria sponge. More commonly you'd use a glace icing, possibly flavoured with lemon juice and sometimes coloured but often not. Glace icing is just icing (powdered) sugar mixed with water.
owlfish
Mar. 26th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
You're right, I was being very sloppy with flavoring vs. filling. I meant filling and will edit the post to clarify. Blackberry jam sounds like a delicious filling.
haggisthesecond
Mar. 26th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
In my family a Victoria sponge is plain sponge cake with a layer of raspberry jam in the middle and a small amount of unflavoured glace icing on top.

Edited at 2008-03-26 01:15 pm (UTC)
hawkida
Mar. 26th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
Red jam and buttercream. Shouldn't matter what flavour the jam is but it must be red.
owlfish
Mar. 26th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Would you be okay with a red-jam flavored ice cream filling, or would that be some other form of cake entirely?
sam_t
Mar. 27th, 2008 09:30 am (UTC)
I think that anything containing ice cream is a pudding/dessert, and therefore not a cake, but I don't know how many people would agree with me there.
sollersuk
Mar. 27th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
I would certainly agree. You couldn't put something with ice cream into a cake tin! And I really don't think you could pick it up to eat.

On that subject, extra note for OP: in the UK cake is usually held in the fingers. Using a fork seems rather pretentious, and a cake that needs one is viewed as more a gateau (as in Black Forest Gateau) and more dessert-ish than something to eat with a cup of tea or coffee.
noncalorsedumor
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
I vote for (red) jam, not because I know anything about Victoria sponges, but because red jams are always the right choice.
intertext
Mar. 27th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
My mother's Victoria sponge had raspberry jam and buttercream filling, and a dusting of icing sugar on top. I think other jams would be permissable, such as blackcurrant, strawberry, even apricot. Marmalade would Not Do.

billyabbott
Mar. 27th, 2008 07:08 am (UTC)
According to the arbiter of al-knowledge, wikipedia, Victoria sponges contain more fat than a normal sponge cake (which don't normally have butter/margarine in) and is unadorned on top, but is filled with a combination of red jam and butter cream OR lemon.

And it's all Queen Victoria's fault.
sollersuk
Mar. 27th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
It could be any jam, though strawberry or raspberry are most usual (and pineapple jam is so rare that only big supermarkets or speciality grocers would be likely to have it), but I'd find that marmelade (which is what I prefer on toast) would have the wrong character. And yes, you could have two.
sam_t
Mar. 28th, 2008 09:32 am (UTC)
A friend made me some pineapple jam last year, and it was very good, if too sweet and sticky for putting on a sponge cake (now I come to think of it, banana bread or a ginger loaf would have been good). I don't remember seeing it in supermarkets, although I haven't been looking.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )