DECIDELY ENGLISH....THE VICTORIA SPONGE
So what is a Victoria Sponge anyway? When I am finished explaining it, you will be wanting one, I promise. In the US we sometimes call it a pound cake. In the UK it is referred to as a sponge cake. When one thinks of pound cake, what comes to mind is a firm and well-aerated structure of a cake. It is dense, buttery and lightly sweet. It is one of the first non-yeasted cakes (that is...without leavening). Air, instead, is incorporated into the egg mixture and this results in a light and airy cake. Sandwich it with preferably a raspberry preserve (I'll take mine seedless please!) and a pure vanilla buttercream. Dust the top with confectioner's sugar and you have a delicious treat! Anyone for afternoon tea?
So what is its history? It's quite a famous one. Queen Victoria's lady-in-waiting, Anna, Duchess of Bedford, was the creator of teatime. The noontime meals back in those days were quite skimpy and by late afternoon she was having her wait staff sneak biscuits and breads into her chambers. So she decided to invite her friends over at 5pm for an afternoon meal. The menu consisted of small cakes, sandwiches, sweets and tea. Sounds a lot like High Tea in England today, doesn't it?
Before long Queen Victoria adopted this ritual herself. By 1855 'tea parties' were in style, with ladies in formal dress meeting in late afternoon, by invitation, no less! When Prince Albert died in 1861, the queen retreated to Osborn House and the cakes were then naturally named after her, as this was her favorite sweet.
The cake itself can be made as an 8" or 9" round, sandwiched together with preserves of choice and a vanilla buttercream. I bake them in miniature form. One or two (or three!) bites for each cake...and you'll be wanting more. They are light, airy, sweet, fruity and creamy all at once. You will be wishing you were in England, enjoying these during an afternoon tea. But until then, come and try them right here at Delices Europeennes, LLC.
Once you taste them, you'll need a reason to have your friends over for tea.....or coffee...and of course, some lovely treats!