Victoria Sponge … What’s That?

Victoria Sponge  . . . . . .

  • Perhaps something sexy to use in your shower (British company Victoria Plumb IS a plumbing company and they ‘could’ be selling this product).
  • Could it be a fruit you find only at Victoria Falls, one of the greatest attractions in Africa and the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world found on the Zambezi River.
  • Could it be what Victoria Secret models put in their bra’s to stay so saucy?
  • Perhaps it’s something Spice Girl Victoria Beckham (spouse of well known soccer star David Beckham) would use to clean her kitchen sink.

Well, if you don’t know what it is, don’t feel alone because I didn’t know until I had some at the Artisan Bakery and Cafe in Hexham, Northumberland, England.  This is a photo of their Victoria Sponge: Victoria Cream at Artisan Bakery Hexham This is no Ordinary cake, ladies and gentlemen, there seems to be 2 history stories about this pastry.  The first found reference was in 1491 and they were said to be small cakes served to children (minus the whipped cream, vanilla cream filling, jam and fresh fruit topping.) However: this cake became famous because of  Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting. You see, lunch in Victorian times was pretty skimpy so clever Anna had her servants sneak tea and snacks into her room late in the afternoon. I think we would call this a “closet eater”; however, she soon began to invite other lady friends to join her and when she returned to London in the fall, her “tea party” circle was in full swing. Queen Victoria adopted the new craze for tea parties and she and her ladies would show up in formal dress for afternoon teas.  This simple cake was one of the Queen’s favorites; and, according to historians, the cakes were named after her.

Wikipedia says:  The sponge cake is thought to be one of the first of the non-yeasted cakes, and the earliest attested sponge cake recipe in English is found in the 1615 book of English poet and author Gervase Markham, “The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman”    (I must, read this book and find out what, if anything I have been missing … am I truly a “complete woman”).

And, here are some additional links to other Victoria Sponge history and information:

Cake Fit for a Queen: Victoria Sponge

http://hubpages.com/hub/Victoria-Sponge-Cake-A-classic-English-cake

Now I have come full circle from my first taste, through the history, to baking my first Victoria Sponge.

Voila! Absolutely delicious; oh, so simple to make and so beautiful to behold.

 Victoria YummmmSponge cake with raspberry or strawberry jam and whipped cream; or, vanilla cream filling between the layers and, then topped with sweetened whipped cream.  Top of the cake is slathered with freshly whipped cream, a hint of vanilla and a bit of sugar for sweetness, then garnished with fresh fruit.

My first Victoria Sponge
My first Victoria Sponge

Just to be certain it was as good as it looked, I asked my British friend Fiona to do a taste test.  Here is the result.

Going, going ….

Going, going ....And, goneUmmmmmm

However, I did not want a biased opinion from Fiona, although I value her honesty; so, I asked Paula and Luis (HelpXers at the B&B,  from Madrid) to try it.  The piece I cut and gave to Luis was gone before I could get Paula’s cut and on the table.  So, I guess it’s pretty good.

Here is the basic recipe I used if you would like to try a Victoria Sponge – easy, only 3 ingredients.

http://www.food.com/recipe/three-ingredient-italian-sponge-cake-39404

Yummmm it up!

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