Sixty years ago, Princess Elizabeth Windsor ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and head of the Commonwealth, following the death of her father King George VI.
In honour of the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, I have decided to spend the Diamond Jubilee weekend cooking four recipes related to the Queen / British Monarchy.
The first recipe is of course, the Victoria Sandwich (also known as Victoria Sponge). Named after Queen Victoria, the only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. With the bunting up and the Union Jack flags appropriately placed; two in the hanging baskets outside, two in a vase in the lounge window, it was time to begin baking.
A Little History
The Victoria Sponge was named after Queen Victoria following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, whilst Victoria was in seclusion at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Queen Victoria delighted in taking afternoon tea and tea parties which by 1855, were very formal affairs. Jam filled sponge cake was her favoured cake to take with her afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea was created by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, a lady-in-waiting for Queen Victoria, who by four o’clock in the afternoon suffered from a “sinking feeling”. For this reason, the Duchess had a pot of tea and some breadstuffs delivered to her dressing room. The Duchess soon began inviting friends to partake in her afternoon tea, at which small cakes, bread & sandwiches, sweets and tea were served. Afternoon tea soon became a craze adopted by others, including Queen Victoria.
Rather than picking any old Victoria Sponge recipe, I searched in particular, for one appropriately dated to the time of Queen Victoria’s reign. Mrs Beeton is a famous 19th Century cookery writer, author of “Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management”. I found her recipe for Victoria Sandwich on the following website; http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/148260/Mrs-Beeton-s-Victoria-sandwich.
“Sponge Cake” is perhaps one of the easiest cakes to make, with relatively few ingredients and little skill required.
- Four Eggs
- 200 Grams Self Raising Flour
- 200 Grams Butter/Margarine
- 200 Grams Caster Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
First, in a bowl you must “beat the butter into a cream”, this is done by mixing together the butter and sugar. The butter will absorb the sugar, soften and become light and fluffy.
It wasn’t actually quite so yellow, that is just the colour from the lighting, it was a lighter colour.
Next the creamed butter and sugar was added to the self-raising flour, stirred, then added with the four pre-whisked eggs. Much stirring came to follow, ten minutes at least!
After a sufficient amount of stirring, the mixture was added to two square pans. I’ve never seen a square Victoria Sponge/Sandwich before, but the picture had a square cake so square tins it was. I think however, that the tins I bought were a little too large.
After quite a considerable amount of time, much longer than the internet said (20 minutes on gas mark 4), the two halves of the cake were cooked.
I chose, well actually Nan chose, damson jam for the filling, I am quite partial to raspberry jam, definitely not blackcurrant which was the original suggestion.
The recipe said to cut the Victoria Sandwich into rectangular finger, so after attaching the top of the cake and sprinkling with yet more sugar, this is the finished product, not bad if I say so myself.
Having eaten a slice of my Victoria Sandwich with a cup of tea, writing this, I have noticed that I have rather unwittingly been humming The National Anthem, quite appropriate considering the nature of the post.
Tomorrow’s recipe will be Coronation Chicken; a dish created for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied with a rice salad, I hope it goes well.