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10 mins

The Wi Cookbook
Serves 4 . Preparation 10 minutes . Cook 25–30 minutes

The quintessential British cake, a good Victoria sponge still remains a staple of many WI meetings. Recipes for sponge cakes have appeared in WI publications going back to the earliest days of the movement, and reputations have been made and destroyed with cakes such as this one. The WI rules when judging are precise: only raspberry jam for the filling; a dusting of caster, NEVER icing, sugar to finish, and a 20cm (8 in) diameter. Good flavour should be at the heart of the cake’s success, so use finest quality butter and fresh free-range eggs – if you have your own hens, even better. The debate on what makes a perfect Victoria still rages on: butter or margarine, or a mix of both; to sift or double sift the flour; to add vanilla; is it a sandwich or a sponge? The simple format of this recipe shows just how assured WI cooks must have been. A WI recipe featured on the Hairy Bikers’ BBC2 show in 2011, and our updated recipe is based on that one (which you can also find on the WI website).

Posted by Ebury Publishing Published See Ebury Publishing's 80 projects » © 2023 Mary Gwynn / Ebury Press · Reproduced with permission. · Extracted from The WI Cookbook by Mary Gywnn (Ebury Press, hardback £20). Photography by Jan Baldwin
  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease and base-line two 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment.

  • Step 2

    Cream the butter/margarine and sugar together until very pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs then gradually add to the mixture a tablespoonful at a time, beating well.

  • Step 3

    Sift the flour and gently fold into the mixture with a metal spoon. Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins and level the surface, making a slight hollow in the centre to allow the cakes to rise.

  • Step 4

    Bake for 25–30 minutes on the same shelf in the oven until well risen and golden. The cakes should have shrunk from the sides of the tin and spring back when touched.

  • Step 5

    Remove the cakes from the tins and turn onto a wire
    rack to cool. When cold, sandwich them together with
    jam and dust with caster sugar.

    Victoria sponge
    4 ozs. sugar, 4 ozs. margarine, 4 ozs. self–raising flour, 2 eggs.
    Cream together for 15 minutes. Add alternately to above, sifted flour and eggs. Bake in oven 365F, 185C, Gas Mark 4.

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