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​From Royal Tables to Our Homes: The Journey of the Victoria Sponge Cake

​From Royal Tables to Our Homes: The Journey of the Victoria Sponge Cake

Posted by Emily on 4th Dec 2023

Ah, the sweet tale of the Victoria Sponge Cake – a classic that never goes out of style, much like a beloved old song that brings back warm memories. Let's cosy up and reminisce about this sponge cake steeped in history, shall we?

Strawberry and cream filled and topped Victoria sponge in the garden

Picture this: a perfect afternoon, craving a slice of something sweet. That's the Victoria sponge cake for you – timeless and inviting. Did you know this cake is a part of the grand tradition of high tea? It all began with Anne Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, in the 19th century. She wasn't too keen on waiting till 8 or 9 PM for dinner and started having a little afternoon tea to tide her over. That's when the sponge cake made its grand entry, eventually gaining Queen Victoria's seal of approval and becoming a trend among the upper class.

But let's not forget the sponge cake's roots go way back to the 15th century. The term 'sponge cake' comes from its airy texture. It was a time when these cakes were more like biscuits than the fluffy delights we adore today. From Gervase Markham's 1615 recipe to the Italian courts of Catherine De Medici, the sponge cake's journey is as rich as its taste.


Now, let's whisk around the world and see how different cultures have embraced the sponge cake. In Japan, they have the light and airy cotton sponge cake. Southeast Asia brings its own twist with chiffon cakes made with vegetable oil. China's Malay cake and the Philippines' vibrant ube cake add colourful strokes to the sponge cake canvas. And who can forget the pandan cake's green hue or the plava sponge cake, a Passover staple?

Returning to Europe, we see sponge cakes like the Bizcocho in Spain and the Pan Di Spagna in Italy. The Genoise sponge cake from Genoa, Italy, laid the foundation for many French layer cakes. And then, of course, there's our beloved Victoria sponge – a royal favourite that pairs splendidly with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Speaking of royalty, Queen Victoria's love for cakes wasn't just a passing fancy. Her wedding to Prince Albert even influenced the use of white royal icing on cakes, a tradition that continued with her daughter's wedding.

The Victorian era was a golden age for tea and cakes. Think of Mrs. Beeton's legendary cookbook and Alfred Bird's inventions like custard powder and baking powder. These innovations revolutionised baking as we know it.

Fast forward to today, the Victoria sponge cake remains a beloved classic. Thanks to shows like The Great British Bake-Off and baking enthusiasts worldwide, its charm endures. It's a cake that whispers of nostalgia, comfort, and the simple joys of life.

In conclusion, the Victoria sponge cake isn't just a dessert; it's a journey through time and cultures, a slice of history in every bite. Got a craving now?

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this sweet journey. Do you have a Victoria sponge cake memory or a favourite variation?