The recipe for this blackberry Victoria sponge came after we had a tease of fall weather here in Ontario. Then it became warm again. Then cold again. Go figure…
This is everything you want in a dessert, with a final nod to summer desserts and a seasonal twist, inspired by my blackberry bush. Most importantly, it isn’t too sweet as I find many desserts are.
No wonder this is such a classic English dessert – it is so delicious and easy to make! It uses the all in one creaming method: equal parts by weight of sugar, butter, and flour; eggs for moisture and rise; and baking powder for leavening; beaten together until airy and light. The Victoria sponge is traditionally spread with raspberry or strawberry jam – with whipping cream or buttercream in between the layers.
A lot of controversy exists when it comes to whipping cream versus buttercream in a Victoria sponge. Personally, I am on the side of whipping cream because it keeps the cake light, moist, and isn’t as sweet. Buttercream works best for if you need to leave the cake out all day because it will keep best at room temperature. Both variations are equally delicious, and the Brits can’t decide on either one anyways!
How to Make the Blackberry Victoria Sponge
- A Victoria sponge starts off with equal parts by weight granulated sugar, softened butter, and all-purpose white flour. Add 4 eggs, making sure they are room temperature; you can warm them up in a bowl of warm water. If the eggs are cold, they won’t combine well into the batter and you could get bits of hard butter. So just make sure everything is at room temperature. This recipe calls for baking powder for leavening, vanilla, and of course, salt for extra flavour.
- Now you want to cream all of this together. I use a stand mixer, but you could use a hand mixer or I’ve seen a lot of people use a food processor. Mix on medium-high for about 40-50 seconds, stopping to scrape the bowl at 20 seconds. What you want is a smooth batter that will fall off your spoon. The batter will start to lighten in colour because of all the incorporated air. This will make your cake nice and airy. But be careful to not over-beat because the cake will be tough due to over-developed gluten.
- Scrape that delicious batter into a greased and lined springform pan, trying not to lick it. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, but start checking it at around 20 minutes with a skewer. The Victoria sponge is fully baked once an inserted skewer comes out clean and the surface springs back to the touch. Now the hardest part – waiting for the cake to cool.
- While the cake cools, you can make the whipping cream filling. Beat the cream with a hand or stand mixer with a couple of tablespoons of sugar until medium to stiff peaks form. Adjust the sweetness as desired; 2 tbsp of granulated sugar was my preferred amount.
- Now it’s time to decorate! Carefully remove the cake from the pan and slice in half long wise to make two layers. Flip the layers so that the insides of the cake are facing up. Spread cream on the topmost layer and jam on the bottom layer.
- To create the sandwich, flip the bottom layer with the jam onto the top layer. This way the bottom flat surface of the sponge is now at the top and there is a perfectly smooth surface to decorate.
- Decorate by sifting some icing sugar on top, and arranging any seasonal berries, edible flowers, and fruits on top! I harvested fresh plums, pansies, raspberries, and blackberries from my garden to decorate. Arrange them however makes you happy and cut yourself a slice – you deserve it!
Tips for Success
- Start off with all ingredients at room temperature. This way the batter will combine easily and the butter will stay soft throughout. A well blended homogeneous batter yields a more even cake crumb in this Victoria sponge.
- You do not want to overbeat the batter because the cake will become hard and may have a high peak after baking. I found that 50 seconds on medium-high speed on my kitchen-aid stand mixer yielded perfect results.
- The blackberry Victoria sponge is best assembled right before serving, with the sponge at room temperature. This is because of the high butter content in the sponge. You can make it in advance, store it in the fridge, then bring it up to room temperature before assembly.
- Leftovers should be refrigerated because of the fresh whipping cream filling, and are good for a few days. From personal experience ( i.e., eating the cake in the middle of the night straight from the fridge), the cake is still delicious served cold!
- Don’t be afraid to mix it up! You can switch out the vanilla for finely grated citrus zest, pumpkin spice, cardamom, or any other flavouring you like.
Blackberry Victoria Sponge
- 225 g granulated sugar
- 225 g butter softened
- 225 g all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract pure
- 250 mL whipping cream cold
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar to taste
- ½ cup blackberry jam or jam of choice
- Icing sugar for dusting
- berries, flowers, and leaves for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 185°C. Grease and line 8" round spring form pan with parchment paper.
- Add the granulated sugar, butter, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, and vanilla to a mixing bowl or stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until the batter is all combined and smooth, about 40-50 seconds. Stop and scrape the bowl after 20 seconds to make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed. Be careful not to over mix or else your cake will turn out tough because of too much gluten developing. The batter should be smooth and lighten in colour.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Be sure to check after 20 minutes. The cake will be done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If you press on the top of the cake it should spring back.
- Cool the cake for about 30 min in the pan, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack until completely cool.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the whipping cream with 2-3 tbsp granulated sugar (to taste) until stiff peaks form.
- Slice the cake in half long-wise with a large serrated bread knife.
- Spread the whipping cream on the top half of the cake and jam on the bottom half. Carefully flip the half with jam onto the half with cream like a sandwich. This way the bottom of the cake is now on top and there is a smooth surface for decorating.
- Dust the cake with icing sugar and decorate the top with seasonal fruits, edible flowers, and anything else you want!
- Enjoy the delicious dessert you just made. Be careful not to eat it all in one go!