Call it a Victoria cake, a Victoria sponge cake, or a Victoria sandwich cake—any way you go, the tower of billowy whipped cream, tart raspberry jam, and plush vanilla sponge, is worth mastering. Named for Queen Victoria of England, the signature British bake’s history is noteworthy as it marks the entry of baking powder into the baking equation. Our modern take on this very English dessert borrows a few American elements, such as a hot milk sponge for an even loftier crumb and a smidge of instant vanilla pudding powder in the whipped cream filling. The modified cornstarch in the pudding mix does a spectacular job of absorbing excess moisture, making the whipped cream both creamier and more stable, able to hold its shape for days in the fridge. Your cake won’t last long enough to see this for yourself, but it’s still nice to know.
Hot milk cake occupies the coveted intersection in the Venn diagram of pound cake (tender, buttery) and sponge cake (light, airy). Here’s how it works: When whole eggs and sugar are whipped to a froth, they form a voluminous but somewhat fragile foam. Adding scalded milk (with a temperature around 180°F) to the mixing bowl while beating on low speed cooks the eggs gently, strengthening their proteins, so the foam remains stable.
The sponge in a classic Victoria sponge cake recipe is traditionally baked in a single cake tin; after a trip to the cooling rack, it is sliced through the center and sandwiched with whipped cream (or buttercream) and raspberry jam. We make things a little easier for you here by splitting the batter between two round cake pans—no slicing necessary. Finish the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar and transfer it to a fancy serving plate or cake stand to serve at a proper afternoon tea or any other event of your choice.