This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosures.
The Victoria Sponge is the quintessential British cake, resplendent in any village tea shop worth their salt. Fluffy vanilla sponge, generously filled with raspberry jam and a light buttercream. The surface is broadly undecorated but sprinkled liberally with a crunch of caster sugar. This Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge is baked with an easy gluten-free flour and has no xanthan gum. It is so versatile and can be called upon for any occasion.
- Why you'll love this recipe
- Watch the video to see how to make it
- What is a Victoria Sponge?
- Why is a Victoria Sponge called a Victoria Sponge?
- Victoria Sponge and The Women’s Institute
- How to make the Perfect Victoria Sponge
- Step-by-step instructions
- How to achieve a level cake
- How to turn out the sponges to avoid rack marks?
- What jam to use
- Homemade jam recipes
- Which cream to use for the filling
- How to make buttercream icing
- Icing or caster sugar for dusting?
- How to freeze
- Are your sponges too crusty?
- Make in advance
- Shop the recipe
- Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge
No other cake can beat a really good Victoria Sponge. The simplicity and importance of a Victoria Sponge at teatime cannot be stressed enough. It is the cake I cannot possibly refuse and the one which is always the first to fly off of every single cake stall I have ever managed. It is a perfect cake.
This Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge Cake has all the bags of personality you would expect from your favourite cake. Gorgeous soft bouncy texture with a deep vanilla flavour. Once you have filled these perfect sponge with your favourite fruity jam and easy creamy buttercream then you will produce a cake that is utterly irresistible.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Easy and quick to make.
- No complicated flours - just a simple gluten-free flour and ground almonds.
- Perfect soft bouncy texture.
- Deep rich vanilla flavour.
- Generously filled with your favourite homemade jam and creamy flavourful buttercream.
- No xanthan gum. READ MORE >>> Why I never bake with xanthan gum
- No special equipment is needed for this cake except for basic cake pans, mixing bowl and a mixer of your choice.
Watch the video to see how to make it
What is a Victoria Sponge?
This Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge is a lovely easy cake to bake, consisting of two circular sponges made with a few simple ingredients. The sponges are sandwiched together with a hearty helping of raspberry jam. The buttercream filling is optional but I feel very necessary and the surface of the cake is sprinkled liberally with caster sugar.
Why is a Victoria Sponge called a Victoria Sponge?
The cake is named after Queen Victoria who wasn’t allowed sweet treats in her youth but certainly made up for it with gusto in her later years.
Previously sponge cakes had been quite leaden affairs until the invention of baking powder in 1843. The baking powder gave this new Victoria Sponge cake unprecedented height and airiness.
Victoria Sponge and The Women’s Institute
The Women’s Institute, which is the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK, is famous for raising funds through their cake stalls. And you can guarantee there will be a Victoria Sponge Cake sitting resplendent at one of their events. However if you really want to make a proper WI approved Victoria Sponge then you may want to take a glance at their handbook. They are fastidious about the rules and regulations of a true Victoria Sponge.
The WI have exact specifications on the correct method for baking, the required number of eggs, the unquestionable flavour of jam and which sugar you should choose for dusting. So it’s here that I confess that this Victoria Sponge will be going a little off-piste.
For starters, I’m not sure the WI will forgive me for offering a gluten-free version of their beloved cake in the first place. However, as a lapsed member, and indeed ex-President, of our local WI that doesn’t mean I don’t adhere to a few of the rules, the ones I deem most important.
How to make the Perfect Victoria Sponge
There are few ingredients in a Victoria Sponge so there is no room here for cutting corners. Let's go through them all!
Not margarine – ever! The butter should be creamed into your caster sugar until pale, light and fluffy. There is no place here for the all-in-one method and the end results will speak for themselves.
Top Tip: The most nutritious butter for the job is the product of grass-fed cows which are loaded with Vitamin K2 and for that local butter is your best bet. If you can’t buy your butter from local grass-fed cows then Kerrygold butter is the next best thing, found in most supermarkets and is about 90% grass-fed.
Find the best eggs you can from a local supplier, if you know the hen’s name, all the better. This recipe uses medium sized eggs which are 60g each with shell.
Burford Brown eggs from Clarence Court are the superior supermarket egg. Their yolks are custard yellow and creamy, creating a rich and very flavourful addition to your sponge.
Gluten-Free Tip: The WI insists that only three eggs should be used but as we are using gluten-free flours we need more rise, more liquid and more binding power so here we use four.
Do I need to weigh my eggs?
The traditional method of measuring out the ingredients for a Victoria Sponge is to weigh the eggs first, in their shells, then use that measurement to know how much butter, sugar and flour to use. However if you use four medium sized eggs (which are between 53g-63g each in their shells) then you can’t go wrong with using 240g butter, 240g sugar and 240g total flour.
The Victoria Sponge should be a very accessible cake so let’s not concern ourselves with complicated flour blends. I advocate here for a plain gluten-free flour. You can use Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour. However, any brand will do.
Or, have you tried this Homemade Gluten-Free Flour blend yet in your cakes? It is the perfect balance of flour and bakes up absolutely beautifully with the most incredible texture and flavour.
Don’t tell the WI. Since we are using a supermarket gluten-free flour then we need a bit more moisture to avoid a dry and crumbly cake. Ground almonds gives the cake a beautifully tender crumb which will hold together well. Plus the gentle scent of almonds gives the cake a little more depth.
Always vanilla extract please and never vanilla essence which is a chemically made ingredient with a very saccharine and shallow vanilla taste. The addition of vanilla in a Victoria Sponge is not obligatory but it gives the cake such a beautiful pure flavour.
The addition of milk to loosen the batter is not a WI approved ingredient but it certainly makes for a creamier and lighter sponge, especially since gluten-free cakes need more moisture. Only two tablespoons are required to be added at the end of the mixing stage but it really makes all the difference.
For full recipe instructions go to the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract.
- Sieve the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt together, then add into the cake mixture, mixing until well combined.
- Stir in the milk to lighten the batter then divide the batter equally between the two sandwich tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes in their tins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before filling.
To achieve the best results when you mix the vanilla sponges you can use an handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Beat the icing sugar with the unsalted butter until very light and fluffy.
- Add the whole milk, vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined.
- Take one of your sponges and slather on the raspberry jam very evenly over the surface, spreading to the edge.
- For an even layer of buttercream pipe your buttercream in concentric circles over the top of the jam then use a small palette knife to gently even it out.
- Place the second sponge carefully on the top of the filling and sprinkle the caster sugar evenly on top of the cake.
How to achieve a level cake
Digital scales are your best friend here and they allow you to weigh your batter so both cake layers are exactly the same height and weight.
- Before filling your greased and lined 8 inch round cake tins with the prepared cake batter, place one of them onto the scales, set to zero then pour in about half of the batter.
- Remove from the digital scales, put the other cake tin on the scales and set to zero again.
- Add the other half of the batter, making sure it weighs exactly the same amount as the first tin.
- Once you have equal weights of batter in your tins and you have smoothed them out then they are ready for the oven and your will have an even layer cake.
How to turn out the sponges to avoid rack marks?
Since a Victoria Sponge is only decorated with a sprinkle of caster sugar, every imperfection on the surface of the cake is visible. Plus if you do want to abide by the WI’s rules then the surface of your cake must not be marred by the criss cross pattern of your cooling rack.
Luckily we have an advantage in that the gluten-free flours provide the cake with a more sturdy crust so you should be fine turning it out as usual.
However, if you don’t want to take any chances then follow these instructions:
- Leave your cake to cool in the tin for five minutes exactly.
- Run a small palette knife around the edges of your cake which should have come away from the edges of the tin anyway.
- Get as close as possible to your cooling rack then turn the cake gently out into your hand so you are holding the surface of the cake for just a moment. At exactly the same time use your other hand to thrust the cake tin aside and quickly place your cooling rack to the underside of the cake, flipping over with caution.
- Leave the cake to cool on the rack.
Perhaps don’t try this on your first Victoria Sandwich attempt as broken cakes can be very upsetting.
What jam to use
Any jam you have to hand will be delicious, especially if it’s homemade. Buuuttt… Again, my contemporaries at the WI are not so casual about the choice of jam. They insist the only true jam for a Victoria Sponge is raspberry jam. However, don't worry - your cake will still be delicious if you use strawberry jam or indeed any homemade jam. Although it is important to use a nice thickly set jam. If your jam is too loose there is a high chance it will spill out when you place the second cake layer on top.
Which cream to use for the filling
Gosh, now we are entering some choppy waters. The WI does not like their Victoria Sponge filled with fresh cream or buttercream. Instead they prefer the jam to sit uninterrupted in the middle of the cake. Delicious? Of course. But you know what would be more delicious? That’s right, buttercream.
Any sort of fancy swiss meringue, boiled icing, French-this, Italian-that or even fresh whipped cream is not the thing for our schoolmarm of a cake. We need straightforward 'butter plus icing sugar and that-is-that' buttercream.
The buttercream adds moisture to this sturdy sponge and also gives the jam a bit of a helping hand in the luxury department. There is nothing better than a squidgy piece of Victoria Sponge oozing with jam and buttercream. Without buttercream is far too austere for this baker.
How to make buttercream icing
The rule of thumb for the easiest buttercream is equal amounts icing sugar and unsalted butter. Beat these two lovebirds on high for 5-10 minutes and you will achieve the lightest fluffiest buttercream. It will pipe like a dream and melt in the mouth. For creaminess add a dash of whole milk. Then for flavour add a drop of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.
Icing or caster sugar for dusting?
Ha! Use icing sugar at your peril. I am in complete agreement with the WI that caster sugar is the only sugar to use here. It glistens on the top and adds crunch, a most welcome texture.
How to freeze
It freezes very well but I would recommend to freeze the two sponge layers separately before decorating. Wrap them well in cling film then tin foil. To defrost remove from the freezer the night before. Allow to defrost overnight then unwrap and assemble as usual.
I don’t recommend freezing the cake already filled with the jam and buttercream. You will not be able to wrap the cake up tightly enough and it will run the risk of freezer-burn.
Are your sponges too crusty?
Gluten-free flours can brown and crisp easily in the oven. With some brands of gluten-free flour you might find your sponges have a bit of an unnecessary crust. This is slightly at odds with the soft and fluffy personality of a Victoria Sponge. There are 2 solutions:
- You could make the sponges a day in advance and store in an airtight container, stacked with a layer of parchment paper in between, at room temperature. This means the cake crusts softens and achieves a much better texture.
- Or you could use a gluten-free flour which doesn't crust in this way. I recommend this Homemade Gluten-Free Flour Blend which creates an incredible sponge flavour and texture for your Victoria Sponge.
Make in advance
Making the whole cake in advance leads to the best bit about a Victoria Sponge. After a day the jam starts to sink into the sponge which gives it the most lovely squidgy texture.
You can make the cake up to 2 days in advance. Store the cake in an airtight container in a cool dark place (not the fridge).
Shop the recipe
- Digital scales
- 8 inch round cake tins
- Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour
- Silicone Spatula
- Large Plain Round Icing Nozzle 3R
- Recyclable piping bags
- Small offset spatula
- Square cake box
If you make this Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.
Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge
- 240 g unsalted butter - at room temperature
- 240 g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs - 60g each with shell
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 120 g gluten-free flour - see notes below
- 120 g ground almonds
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 175 g raspberry jam
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar for sprinkling at the end
- 200 g icing sugar
- 200 g unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan assisted oven /gas mark 4 and line and grease 2 x round 8 inch x 4 inch cake tins.
- Cream the butter and sugar for about 3-4 minutes until pale, light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix until completely incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.
- Whisk the gluten-free flour with the ground almonds almond , baking powder and salt in separate mixing bowl, then add into the rest of the cake mixture. Beat until well combined.
- Stir in the milk to lighten the batter then divide the batter equally between the two cake tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes in their tins. Turn out onto cooling racks and leave to cool completely before assembly.
- Beat the icing sugar with the unsalted butter for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often.
- Add the whole milk, vanilla extract and salt and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Take one of your sponges and slather the raspberry jam very evenly over the surface, spreading to the edge.
- For an even layer of buttercream, fill a piping bag with the buttercream fitted with a large plain round piping tip. Pipe concentric circles over the top of the jam then use a small palette knife to gently even it out.
- Place the second sponge carefully on the top of the buttercream and sprinkle the caster sugar evenly over the surface.
- This cake was tested with Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour which doesn’t contain any xanthan gum. However if your blend does contain xanthan gum then that will work fine too.
- This Victoria Sponge was also tested with my Homemade Gluten-Free Flour Blend which produces the best version of this cake.
- Use the best quality jam you can find. I recommend Bonne Maman Raspberry Conserve for the best supermarket option.