April was so gorgeous that it almost felt as if we’d skipped spring altogether and launched straight into summer. And at our first BBQ of the year, with hordes of friends and family sprawled all over the garden, it really felt as if we were on holiday. After a long lunch, we decided to skip pudding and move straight to tea and a spring berry Victoria Sandwich instead.
There are literally thousands of recipes for this, and most bakers will have their own favourites. Mine is a mix-up of lots of different versions that I’ve tried over the years, but without fail, it always has one twist that wouldn’t be allowed by any Victoria sponge purists. My lot aren’t big fans of jam, so I always swop the jam for whipped cream mixed with a little icing sugar, and as many fresh berries as we can fit on the top of the cake and in the middle. It’s so simple, and ridiculously pretty – just perfect for a sunny afternoon. Feeds 8-10 depending on how greedy you feel
220g soft butter
220g vanilla caster sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature, loosely beaten
½ tsp vanilla extract
220g self raising flour
1 tbsp milk
Pot of whipping cream
1-2 tbsp sifted icing sugar
2 packs of fresh raspberries
Optional: raspberry jam
Preheat the oven to 180/160 Fan/350F/Gas 4, then grease and line two loose bottomed sandwich tins with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together, preferably with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add the beaten egg, a little at a time. If it starts to curdle, just add a little flour and carry on. Mix in the vanilla essence.
Sift the flour onto the mixture and fold through lightly until completely combined. Dollop the sponge mixture evenly between the two tins and smooth to the edges. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack.
While the sponges are cooling, whip the cream into firm peaks, adding the icing sugar to taste along the way.
When the cakes are completely cool, if you are using jam,spread a thin layer over the top of the base sponge. Then spoon over half the whipped cream and spread to the edges. Decorate with an even layer of raspberries, taking care to try and get them all roughly the same height – it looks great if you place them in concentric circles. Do the same with the second sponge.
Very carefully place the second sponge on top of the first and sift over a little icing sugar. Serve straight away.