Nigella’s Never Fail Victoria Sponge

10 May

Let me dispel a few myths. You don’t need to be any sort of domestic goddess to make a good Victoria sponge. You don’t even need much time. If you have all the ingredients in the house, you should have it all prepared and in the oven in under 5 minutes. And the washing up is  courtesy of the dishwasher.

I am not sure that any cook can honestly claim the rights to a ‘recipe’ for a Victoria Sponge, as the ingredients and quantities seems to be almost identical in a number of cook books. On this subject I am slavishly devoted to the teachings of Ms Lawson in her first (and to me her best) book, How To Eat. Since I first made this speedy, all in one, processor method of making a Victoria Sponge, I have resisted the siren call of all other cookery prophets and remained loyal to this easy peasy never fail recipe.

To those of you that buy your cake in the supermarket, or make your cake from a packet mix, I would like to prevail upon you to cast aside your prejudice and to try this, just once. You will not look back. You are likely to have everything you need without even stepping into a shop. Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla essence, Jam. All storecupboard staples.

Just follow a few simple rules and you cannot go wrong

  • Use the size of tin that is recommended or the cooking times will change
  • Know your oven temperature. They can vary widely. Cooking it at the right temperature is key.
  • Relax. Even if it does not look as pretty as a shop perfect cake, the first bite will have you hooked.
  • To make life easier I use pre-cut cake tin liners. This saves the step of greasing and lining the tin..

So successful and easy has this cake been, I have made it on numerous occasions, to cheer up a sad friend, to fuel a tired new mum, and when I am calling in on friends for coffee and realise I have not even a packet of biscuits to take.  And I made it for myself twice a week, when I was an almost sleepwalking tearful and tired new mum, just to give me something to look forward to in the afternoon.

A few tips

  • The recipe suggests room temperature/soft butter. Not many people are so well prepared that they get the butter out of the fridge a day early in anticipation. I use the defrost facility on the microwave, until it gets soft but not runny and melted. It takes about 60 seconds on defrost in my microwave. Try it in 20 second bursts. You are looking for a glossy, gooey, about to melt texture.
  • I recommend keeping your eggs in a cupboard at room temperature, then you don’t have to remember to take them out in advance.
  • If you are using fridge cold milk I would recommend 15 seconds in the microwave to take the chill off.

You can find Nigella’s recipe at page 26 of her book.

I have adapted the quantities to suit the size of tins that I have (18cms)

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (or 160 degrees for a fan oven)


6 oz  or 170g plain flour

6 oz  or 170g soft unsalted butter (but you can use salted if thats all you have – it just alters the taste a little)

6 oz 170g sugar

3 large eggs – if you only have medium eggs just add a little more milk

2tbsps (ish) milk.

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not essence)

Place all ingredients into processor. Blend until combined, adding enough milk to give the mixture dropping consistency.

Put in oven for 25 minutes. If you are not sure if it is cooked put in a skewer (or knife if you don’t have one). If it comes out clean (ie without sticky cake mixture on it) it is done.

Just out of the oven

Once the cakes are out of the oven, leave to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn out on to a cake rack (or grill rack if you don’t have one)

Allow to cool for about 45 minutes.

On the rack

Add jam to one sponge then put them together. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Serve

I don’t generally add whipped cream, unless I know it will get eaten that day, as it doesn’t keep well.If you have just used jam, it will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Ready to eat

14 Responses to “Nigella’s Never Fail Victoria Sponge”

  1. Cath May 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    mmmm yummy! I need those cake tin liners – where do you get those from? x

    • mummyinahurry May 10, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

      one of my favourite kitchen suppliers – Lakeland. Will post link on the blog x

    • Robin September 1, 2012 at 5:52 am #

      You say “Cooking it at the right temperature is key” yet don’t tell us what that should be… Thanks!

  2. Suzanne May 10, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Delicious! Even a novice cook who normally buys cakes can make this and it tastes great!! Suzanne

  3. Pumpkin and Piglet May 22, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    This is the recipe I use! You’re right, it never fails. I also use this one for cupcakes if I want a plain (but yummy!) cake with the emphasis on the frosting.

    • mummyinahurry May 22, 2010 at 6:58 am #

      Great idea. I had a reply from my friend in Australia saying she also uses this for cupcakes. She tells me they freeze well so she quite often freezes half, then if unexpected visitors call she can whip them out and add the frosting. I imagine they would defrost quite quickly. Will have to give that a try.

      • Pumpkin and Piglet May 22, 2010 at 7:55 am #

        I hadn’t thought of freezing them! I’ll give it a go too, it would come in handy!

  4. claire May 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I made Nigella’s Victoria Sponge yeasterday. It really is a fantastic foolproof recipe. By accident I over melted the butter (like you I never have soft butter!) but even with runny butter it worked. I did cream the sugar and butter together first as a precaution, then the eggs, vanilla, baking powder and SR flour)Heavently and as light as a feather!

  5. Wendy lewis August 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Just made this cake for a friend’s birthday supper tomorrow night. It looks fantastic and was so easy to make. I’ll let you know if it tastes good too…..

  6. Jacky Smithson December 5, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    Just made these. I am sure it will taste nice but they rose to a peak in the middle and the sides didn’t follow. Any ideas as to why this might be?

    • mummyinahurry December 7, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      I have had this sometimes. I tend to spread the mixture with a dip in the middle. This way it balances out when cooking. However, there are cooking strips you can buy, that you soak in water and place around the edge of the pan. This draws the mixture to the edge giving you a much more even finish. My personal laziness means I tend to leave them with peaks. Sometimes I will cut the peak from the bottom slice so it lays flat, and I can product test!


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