Victoria sponge and other basic recipes


Cake mixHere are some fail-safe recipes for sponges and finishes you're likely to use repeatedly.

Buttercream | Apricot glaze | Victoria sponge | Madeira cake


Makes 250g (9oz), enough to cover the top and sides of a 20.5cm (8 inch) cake)


  • 75g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 175g (6oz) icing sugar, sieved
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or water


1. Put the butter into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually stir in the icing sugar, followed by the vanilla and milk or water. Beat well until light and smooth. Either use immediately or cover well with clingfilm to exclude air.

Apricot glaze

Makes 450g (1lb) apricot glaze


  • 450g (1lb) apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp water


1 Put the jam and water into a pan, heat gently, stirring occasionally until melted.
2 Boil the jam rapidly for 1 minute, then strain through a fine sieve – pushing as much mixture through as possible.
3 Pour the glaze into a clean, sterilised jar. Seal with a clean lid and cool. It can be chilled for up to two months.
4 To use, brush over cakes before applying almond paste, or use to glaze fruit finishes. If the consistency is a little stiff, then stir in a few drops of boiled water.

Victoria sponge

Cuts into 10 slices

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 25 minutes plus cooling


  • 175g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour, sifted
  • 3-4 tbsp jam (strawberry or raspberry is most traditional)
  • icing or caster sugar


1 Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan oven) mark 5. Grease two 180cm (7inch) sandwich tins and base-line with greaseproof paper.
2 Put the butter and caster sugar into a large bowl and, using a hand-held electric whisk, beat together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition – add a spoonful of the flour if the mixture looks like it is about to curdle.
3 Once the eggs are added, use a large metal spoon to fold in the remaining flour. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level the surface.
4 Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cakes are well risen and spring back when lightly pressed in the centre. Loosen the edges with a palette knife and leave in the tins for 10 minutes.
5 Turn out, remove the lining paper and leave to cool on a wire rack. Sandwich the two cakes together with jam and dust with icing sugar or sprinkle the top with caster sugar. Slice and serve.

Quantities and sizes for a Victoria sponge

Cake tin size 15cm (6in) round
12.5cm (5in) square)
18cm (7in) round
15cm (6in) square
20.5cm (8in) round
18cm (7in) square
Butter, softened 125g (4oz) 175g (6oz) 225g (8oz)
Caster sugar 125 (4oz) 175g (6oz) 225g (8oz)
Medium eggs 2 3 4
Self-raising flour 125g (4oz) 175g (6oz) 225g (8oz)
Baking time 20 minutes 25 minutes 25-30 minutes


Madeira cake

Cuts into 12 large slices

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 50 minutes, plus cooling


  • 275g (100oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour
  • 275g (100oz) caster sugar
  • 5 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • lemon juice or milk


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven) mark 3. Grease and line a 20.5cm (8 inch) round, deep cake tin, then grease the paper lightly.
2. Sift the flours together. Cream the butter and sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
3. Using a large metal spoon, fold the flours into the butter mixture, adding a little lemon juice or milk if necessary to give a dropping consistency.
4. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Make a slight depression in the middle of the surface of the cake to ensure it doesn’t mound/dome too much while baking.
5. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 11/2-13/4 hours until the cake springs back lightly when pressed in the centre with a finger.
6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap in clingfilm or foil and store in a cool place until required.


Recipes from Good Housekeeping: The Book of Cake Decorating, published by Collins & Brown.

Image: Shutterstock 

Last updated: almost 3 years ago