So, as promised, I baked the Victoria Sponge from La Nigella’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I followed her directions, using the food processor method, and sandwiched it with the traditional cream and jam (with a few berries) per instructions. Never one to be content with leaving well enough alone, however, I did a bit of reading on the cake, whose simplicity belies its significance.
It’s so-called because it was a common on the tea table of the eponomous queen whose courtiers had, following the death of her beloved Albert, encouraged her to host tea parties as a way of reentering the public sphere. It rapidly spread to the country’s humbler environs as well, and has remained a favorite since. As a beloved standard, the Victoria sponge–or, more accurately, the Victoria sandwich, as it isn’t actually a sponge cake in the strictest sense–has also become something of a culinary barometer: the higher a cook can get her sponge cakes to rise, the higher the esteem with which she is regarded.
Against such lofty antecedents and expectations, I have to admit that I am not 100% pleased with this iteration, so no recipe yet. I KNEW I should have used cake strips–either aluminized cloth or silicone that wrap around the cake to ensure more even cooking and less domeing of the cake–but I forgot to and got two perfectly serviceable, but not perfectly perfect layers. Argh. While Mr. T and our house guests proclaimed the Victoria sandwich to be a delicious success, I’m convinced, however, that I can make it harder, better, faster, stronger. So, recipe to come once I try again, using the by-hand method that demands less leavening and remembering the cake strips. And then we shall see who has the fairest tea table in all the land… *maniacal laughter*