Gluten-Free Scones with Quick Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream

These Gluten-Free Scones are made with buttermilk and without xanthan gum but instead a delicious blend of alternative flours for depth of flavour. A perfect afternoon tea served with a quick strawberry jam set with chia seeds and thick clotted cream.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack

There is nothing more indulgent than going for a proper afternoon tea. The kind you have in a fancy hotel with a proper tea menu, huge fluffy white scones, delicate cucumber sandwiches and mile high slices of sponge cake. I haven’t been for ages. Luke and I wanted to go as my last treat before Beau was born but then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes so that plan was nixed. We should really put it back on the agenda now the newborn days are over. Celebrating the first few months of Beau’s life seems a pretty good reason to treat ourselves.

side shot of a stack of gluten-free scones

It’s the proper presentation of the scones which I find so alluring, perched atop the tier of sandwiches and patisserie, wrapped in clean white linen, waiting to be discovered. I always go for the scones first. If it’s a first class establishment then these scones will be warm, fresh from the oven and that is when they are at their absolute best. They must then be layered high with thick golden Cornish clotted cream and vibrant strawberry jam. Whether you slather your scone with the clotted cream or jam first will betray whether you are of the Cornish or Devonshire persuasion.

Overhead shot of a plate of strawberries, a napkin and gluten-free scones on a wire rack

The presence of scones will always elevate an occasion. A pot of tea shared with my mum is suddenly made into a fanciful affair by the inclusion of scones. We might as well be partaking our cream team with the Duchess of Bedford at Woburn Abbey. The proper china must come out, including the teapot, and I feel an unexplained need to set the table properly with a tablecloth and decant the jam and clotted cream into bowls rather than dipping our spoon into jars and tubs.

side shot of gluten-free scones on a wire rack

Yet scones also feel rather homely. They are definitely a comfort to bake. You don’t need an expensive food mixer or a specific kind of cake tin. Just a cheap mixing bowl, a wooden spoon and a standard round cookie cutter. You can dive your hands in, rubbing the butter with the flour in your fingertips, feeling the texture of the dough in between your hands as you bring it all together. It’s so satisfying and they don’t take long at all from start to finish. Within 45 minutes you can go from a faint craving to taking your first bite out of your homemade scone without any fluster.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone on a wire rack

Gluten-Free Scones with Buttermilk

I have a few scone recipes on the blog but no traditional plain gluten-free scones, the kind I turn to frequently when a cream tea is required. This gluten-free scone recipe is made with buttermilk for a tender crumb and a slight tang.

Overhead shot of a gluten-free scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack with a plate of strawberries and flowers

Gluten-Free Flour

For the flour choice in these Gluten-Free Scones I have used a specific home blend of alternative flours. I try and vary my gluten-free baking recipes with ingredients that are easy to find like the plain gluten-free flour blend you can pick up at the supermarket and those that indulge my love of alternative flours. It’s not going to suit everyone that this scone recipe uses a mix of five different flours but flour is the main ingredient in a scone recipe and has nowhere to hide amongst the other ingredients. To achieve a very good gluten-free scone the flour choice needs to be right.

I am aware that I have a very particular obsession with alternative flours and it is not usual for a larder to be stocked with every single variation on the market. However a few choice alternative flours are so worth investing in even if you are not gluten-free. Sweet rice flour, oat flour and tapioca flour are my mainstays. To understand the use of every flour in this recipe I urge you to read through my guide to Gluten-Free Flours. The depth of flavour you achieve from specific combinations is surprising and you can aim for a greater control over texture, moistness and fluffiness than just using a plain ready-made gluten-free blend can provide.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack

Gluten-Free Scones without xanthan gum

This gluten-free scone recipe is also without xanthan gum, a regular presence in a lot of gluten-free baking. It’s often used as a thickening agent or stabiliser to help prevent crumbly and dry gluten-free goods. It’s not something I particularly publicise but I never bake with xanthan gum. I don’t find I can digest it very well so steer clear. Instead I achieve my texture in baking from the right blend of alternative flours. Again, hence the need for so many.

Overhead shot of a bowl of strawberry jam next to a bowl of strawberries and gluten-free scones on a wire rack

Quick Strawberry Jam

Of course you can use a good strawberry jam bought from the farmers’ market to cut down on your labour but a quick fresh strawberry jam is easy enough and has less sugar. These July strawberries I have been buying recently have been so delicious, absolutely full of flavour. I use lemon juice to perk up the strawberry taste, a dash of caster sugar and chia seeds to create an instant luscious set.

overhead shot of a bowl of clotted cream next to a bowl of strawberries

Clotted Cream

Clotted cream is a fabulous ingredient, I could easily eat it with a spoon but the golden hued crust that you have to break through to get there is the real chef’s delight. Clotted cream is the only choice for a proper afternoon tea. I remember being served the most delicious homemade scones once in Brighton, utterly ruined by the airy canned whipped cream served with them. It’s the clotted cream that really achieves the high end cream team that we all hope for whilst enjoying our fresh homemade scones warm from the oven.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack

Print Recipe
Gluten-Free Scones with Quick Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream
These Gluten-Free Scones are made with buttermilk and without xanthan gum but instead a delicious blend of alternative flours for depth of flavour. A perfect afternoon tea served with a quick strawberry jam set with chia seeds and thick clotted cream.
Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack
Course afternoon tea
Cuisine British
Keyword scones
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings
9 scones
Ingredients
Gluten-Free Scones
  • 175 g sweet rice flour
  • 125 g oat flour
  • 100 g millet flour
  • 50 g potato starch
  • 50 g tapioca flour
  • 100 g cold unsalted butter sliced thinly
  • 115 g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs + 1 extra for glazing
  • 200 ml buttermilk
Quick Strawberry Jam
  • 500 g strawberries
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 250 g clotted cream
Course afternoon tea
Cuisine British
Keyword scones
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings
9 scones
Ingredients
Gluten-Free Scones
  • 175 g sweet rice flour
  • 125 g oat flour
  • 100 g millet flour
  • 50 g potato starch
  • 50 g tapioca flour
  • 100 g cold unsalted butter sliced thinly
  • 115 g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs + 1 extra for glazing
  • 200 ml buttermilk
Quick Strawberry Jam
  • 500 g strawberries
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 250 g clotted cream
Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack
Instructions
Buttermilk Gluten-Free Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3/320°F.
  2. Whisk the flours together in a large mixing bowl then add the butter, rubbing together with your fingertips to create breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and mix well.
  4. Pour the milk into a jug and whisk in the eggs until just combined then pour into the centre of the scone mixture.
  5. At first stir the liquid ingredients in with a wooden spoon then tip out onto a clean work surface and using your hands bring the dough together, turning and folding, until it is no longer sticky. Use a bit of extra gluten-free flour on the work surface if it is starting to stick.
  6. Once you have brought the dough together into a ball, press it down into an even circle 1 inch thick.
  7. Cut out the scones using 7cm cutter.
  8. Place the scones onto a clean baking tray. Whisk the extra egg with a splash of milk and brush onto the surface of each scone, making sure not to let it drip down the sides, else your scones will not rise evenly.
  9. Bake the scones for 18 minutes. Let the scones rest on the baking tray for 5 minutes then remove and let cool on a wire rack.
Quick Strawberry Jam
  1. Hull the strawberries then place them in a medium sized saucepan with the lemon juice and caster sugar.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes until the strawberries have broken down, then remove from the heat and stir in the chia seeds.
  3. Chill until needed.
  4. Serve the scones split open with the clotted cream and strawberry jam
Recipe Notes

These scones are best eaten straight away or a few hours after baking. They go stale rather quickly overnight.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Although the metal cookie cutters may look a bit more stylish I always use these KitchenCraft Double-Edged Plastic Biscuit/Pastry Cutters with Storage Box (Set of 7) – White. They are the perfect range of sizes, they are plastic so don’t rust and can go in the dishwasher. Anything that can go in the dishwasher makes my life so much easier.

I use this KitchenCraft MasterClass Non-Stick Baking Tray, 35 x 25 cm (14″ x 10″) for all my cookies, biscuits, scones. It’s a great size and comfortably holds all of these 9 scones so you don’t have to bake in batches. It’s non-stick so the scones lift off easily from the tray and doesn’t require any baking parchment or greasing.

It’s not easy to buy sweet rice flour in the UK, but it’s a flour I use all the time. It is possible to pick up sweet rice flour in chinatown but it is not certified gluten-free so for the coeliacs among us and those that have a very strong intolerance it is not ideal. But I have finally found a brand which is 100% certified gluten-free and it’s fantastic. The brand is yourhealthstore Premium Gluten Free Sweet Rice Flour (glutinous) 1kg

Oat flour can be picked up at most health food shops and if I run out that’s where I head to. However, like all alternative flours it can be expensive so I find the most economical way is to buy it online. I go through bags of the stuff as it’s the flour I use most regularly so I like to buy in bulk. My favourite brand is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour 400 g (Pack of 4) at a reasonable price. Even better if you go the subscribe and save option.

I order my millet flour through Amazon like most of my flours and the brand I like the best is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Millet Flour 500 g (Pack of 4). It’s more economical to buy it this way and I love Bob’s Red Mill as it’s certified gluten-free.

It’s not difficult to get hold of tapioca flour in the UK. You can often find 100g pots of Doves Farm Tapioca Flour in the supermarket but it’s quite costly and doesn’t give you very much. You can find more varied brands in health food shops in bags of about 500g. The cost depends entirely on the brand you purchase. My preferred brand is Bob’s Red Mill GF Tapioca Flour 500 g (Pack of 2) as it’s certifiably gluten-free and I order it through Amazon.

I use chia seeds a lot in chia seed pudding, in my granola bars, sprinkled in my porridge and in smoothies so I buy them in bulk. I like RealFoodSource Whole Natural Dark Chia Seeds 2kg (2 x 1kg bags) with FREE Chia Recipe Ebook. They are just reliably good.

Some of the links above are affiliate links so if you decide to buy your flour using the link then I will get a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

If you like this recipe you may like…

Strawberry Redcurrant Jam

Honey Apple Spice Scones

Honey Apple Spice Scones {gluten-free}

Cheddar Olive Buttermilk Scones

Gluten-Free Cheddar Olive Buttermilk Scones

Gluten-Free Flours: An Introduction

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: how to start gluten-free baking, which flours to use and how to convert wheat recipes: fromthelarder.co.uk

Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is made with whole oranges boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake was my first foray into gluten-free baking a good few years ago when I first began my blog and for a while was just one of two gluten-free cakes I offered on my cake stall. I made this cake every week for nearly a year when I first got started and to be frank I got a little bored of it. After its long absence from the stall though I have begun making it again this year and have been struck anew with now much I love it. My customers also agree as it flies off the stall every week.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

A polenta cake is one of the most recognisably gluten-free bakes. Sometimes it can be disappointing and dry but this Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is always beautifully moist and delicious due to the whole oranges and the ground almonds. It is the only orange polenta cake recipe you need and the hint of rosemary makes it just that little bit more special. The ingredients are few and easy to find in any supermarket but if you can’t find blood oranges at this time of year then regular oranges are just as delicious.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

I first posted this recipe back in February 2014 but with my forgotten love of the cake and the dear need for better images and a more detailed recipe I decided to repost today.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

I felt sad to delete the wording of my original post with its references to walking Billy Buddy as a puppy and the horrible howling weather the UK was obviously experiencing at the time so for my own personal posterity I have included the original wording of the post below.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

From The Larder February 10th 2014

This wouldn’t be a very realistic British blog without giving the weather its due attention. The reason we Brits chat about the weather so much is that we suffer through every type and gosh do we suffer. There is always some extreme weather condition on the go to govern our train times, the roads and our moods. This time round it is these howling winds, whipping the coastline up into a frenzy.
It may be true that we live in London so the likelihood of us getting washed out to sea in a tidal wave during our walks with the puppy are quite slim but I see it as no reason not to be extra cautious. I’ll come out when Easter is here, the chicks are trilling and the flowers blooming. So for now I’ll batten down the hatches, flick on The Voice and nestle down in blankets on the sofa with tea and cake.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

This cake is as much of a store cupboard cake as you can get. My fruit bowl is always filled with sweet blood oranges at this time of year which I hoard like I belong on a reality TV show to eek out the most of their too short season. Everything else was all present and correct in my kitchen and I was able to use the last of the polenta which has been languishing in my cupboard for far too long which cheered me up immensely. I always love using up the end of ingredients, allowing my other tins and jars more room to breathe.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

The absence of any flour also means it is an excellent gluten- free option and the pureed orange and syrup soaked sponge wards off any sort of dryness. We enjoyed this cake with a dollop of whipped double cream but it would be equally delicious with crème fraiche or without anything at all. I think the cup of tea is obligatory though.

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

Print Recipe
Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake
This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
10 people
Ingredients
For the caramelised blood orange slices
  • 1 blood orange
  • 120 g caster sugar
For the cake:
  • 450 g blood oranges (about 4 medium sized oranges)
  • 6 eggs
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 125 g polenta
  • 125 g ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
10 people
Ingredients
For the caramelised blood orange slices
  • 1 blood orange
  • 120 g caster sugar
For the cake:
  • 450 g blood oranges (about 4 medium sized oranges)
  • 6 eggs
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 125 g polenta
  • 125 g ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.
Instructions
Caramelised Blood Orange Slices
  1. First prepare the caramelised oranges for decorating the top of the cake. Pour the extra 120g caster sugar into a medium saucepan with 120ml of water. Bring to a low boil until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Cut the extra blood orange into thin slices then submerge into the sugar syrup. Bring the syrup back to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off.
  3. Remove the orange slices from the sugar syrup (reserve the syrup for pouring over the cake later) with a slotted spoon then place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 10 minutes at 150°C. Turn the orange slices over and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside whilst you make the cake.
The Cake
  1. Place the whole oranges into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line and grease a 20cm round cake tin.
  3. Remove the oranges from the saucepan and cut in half to remove and discard the pips.
  4. Place the oranges into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  5. Set the oranges aside for a moment whilst you beat the eggs and sugar in either a large mixing bowl or food mixer until pale and thick.
  6. Then mix in the pureed orange.
  7. Add the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder, rosemary leaves and salt. Beat until thoroughly incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter in the prepared cake tin and bake for 10 minutes then turn the heat up to 160°C. Bake for a further 30 minutes until firm to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and whilst the cake is still in the tin prick the surface all over with a cocktail stick. Pour the reserved blood orange sugar syrup all over the surface of the cake.
  10. Let the cake cool in the cake tin before removing. Decorate with the blood orange slices and fresh rosemary then serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Original recipe adapted from Veerle de Pooter -  90 Years of KitchenAid-The Cookbook

Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes

I sell my cakes at local farmers’ markets in London but lucky for those who don’t live nearby I also love sharing the recipes for all the cakes I sell and if you want to receive more of my cake stall recipes then I have a FREE mini e-book of the top 3 Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes which are on my stall including Fig, Almond and Salted Honey Cake, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes and Minted Brownies. The recipes are really special to me and if you want a copy of them then just click the button below!

Download

Victoria Sandwich

The Victoria Sandwich is the quintessential British cake, resplendent in any village tea shop worth their salt. It is the cake which can be called upon for any occasion, a special afternoon tea, birthday, Friday treat and of course is the cake to always sit pride of place on any Women’s Institute cake stall.

Victoria Sandwich

What is a Victoria Sandwich?

An utterly perfect cake in every way. Named after Queen Victoria who wasn’t allowed sweet treats in her youth so made up for it with gusto in her later years. The Queen had many foods of the day named after her but I think the Victoria Sandwich or Victoria Sponge must have been the one she was most proud of. At that time sponge cakes had always been quite leaden affairs until the invention of baking powder of which this cake was one of the first recipients, giving the cake height and airiness. It is a lovely easy cake to bake consisting of two circular sponges sandwiched together with a hearty helping of jam (and buttercream if you’re adventurous) and then sprinkled liberally over with caster sugar.

Victoria Sandwich

The Women’s Institute, of which I am a member and proud President of Stroud Green WI since you ask, is fastidious about the rules and regulations of a Victoria Sandwich; the number of eggs used, the flavour of jam, what sugar you use for dusting. So it’s here that I confess the Victoria Sandwich recipe I’m about to give might not win you first prize at a WI cake stall as I like to go a little off piste but that doesn’t mean I don’t adhere to a few of the rules, the ones I deem most important.

Ingredient tips for making a perfect Victoria Sponge

Kerrygold Butter for Victoria Sandwich

Butter. Not margarine – ever! The butter should be creamed into your caster sugar. There is no place here for the all-in-one method. The end results will speak for themselves. 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 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.

Clarence Court Burford Browns for Victoria Sandwich

Eggs. Burford Brown eggs from Clarence Court are the superior supermarket egg. Their yolks custard yellow and creamy creating a rich and very flavourful addition to your sponge. The WI insists that only 3 eggs should be used but in my mind 4 is the magic number for this regal Victoria Sandwich.

Doves Farm Plain White Flour for Victoria Sandwich

Flour. I don’t think you can go wrong with Doves Farm flours which are now agreeably prolific in the supermarkets. I used their organic plain white flour here to make a truly precious sponge. (update. Since I am now gluten-free I bake this cake using a blend of gluten-free flours. The cake is just as delicious but slightly different. The recipe for the gluten-free version of this cake is at the bottom of the recipe)

Vanilla extract or essence? The addition of vanilla in a Victoria Sandwich is not obligatory but I love the taste and if you do too then you will pass over the essence which is artificial and not nice and go directly to the extract for a pure vanilla taste.

Whole Milk. Not a WI approved ingredient but it certainly makes for a creamier and lighter sponge. Only 2 tablespoons are required to be added at the end of the mixing stage but it really makes all the difference.

Victoria Sandwich

Do I need to weigh my eggs beforehand?

The traditional method of measuring out your ingredients for your Victoria Sandwich is to weigh the eggs first, in their shells, then use that measurement to know how much butter, sugar and flour to use. Or do what I do and if you use 4 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 flour.

How do you ensure against a wonky cake?

Digital scales here are your best friend. Place one of your greased and lined cake tins onto the scales, set to zero then pour in about half of the batter. Remove from the scales, put the other cake tin on the scales and set to zero again. Add the other half of the batter. Once you have equal weights of batter in your tins and you have smoothed them out then they are ready for the oven.

How long does it take to bake a sponge cake?

I like to bake my sponge cakes low and slow. This is a tall sponge since the batter boasts 4 eggs plus baking powder so if baked at too high a temperature the surface could easily burn without being fully baked all the way through. If you are worried that the surface of the cake seems to be browning too much before it is baked all the way through then loosely drape some tin foil over the top of the cake tin. The foil must not touch the top of the sponge as it could cause the cake to fall. I bake my sponge at 160°C for about 30 minutes which helps protect the cake and ensure an even bake. It is also vital not to bake the cake in a fan-assisted oven as the cake will just bake too quickly.

How do I turn out my cake to avoid any ugly cooling rack marks?

This is not for the faint hearted but 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. The Victoria Sandwich is a sturdy little number and is unlikely to fall apart in your hands if you are careful enough. Leave your cake to cool in the tin for 5 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, as you 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 then leaving to cool. Perhaps don’t try this on your first Victoria Sandwich attempt as broken cakes can be very upsetting.

Victoria Sandwich

But what jam should I use for my Victoria Sandwich?

Any jam you ninny. Jam is delicious. Buuuttt… Again, my contemporaries at the WI are not so casual about the choice of jam and insist the only true jam for a Victoria Sandwich is raspberry jam. I may have deviated here slightly and used my Raspberry and Coconut Jam but really, can you blame me? Also it is important to use a nice thickly set jam. You can warm it up in the saucepan slightly to aid in spreadability but if your jam is too loose there is a high chance it won’t sit happily within the cake and will spill out before serving.

Victoria Sandwich

To buttercream or not to buttercream?

Gosh, now we are entering some choppy waters. The WI does not like their Victoria Sandwich buttercreamed, instead preferring the jam to sit uninterrupted in the middle of their 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 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 do you make buttercream icing for a Victoria Sponge?

Well, I’m glad you asked. The rule of thumb for the easiest and most traditional of buttercreams 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 which pipes like a dream and melts in the mouth. For creaminess add a dash of whole milk and then for a little bit of flavour add a drop of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

Victoria Sandwich

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.

The simplicity and importance of a Victoria Sandwich 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 WI cake stall I have ever managed. It is a perfect cake.

Victoria Sandwich
Print Recipe
Victoria Sandwich
A classically perfect Victoria Sponge Cake
Victoria Sandwich
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 people
Ingredients
  • 240 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 240 g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 240 g plain flour for gluten-free flour blend recipe see notes
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 175 g raspberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar for sprinkling at the end
  • Buttercream
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 200 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 people
Ingredients
  • 240 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 240 g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 240 g plain flour for gluten-free flour blend recipe see notes
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 175 g raspberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar for sprinkling at the end
  • Buttercream
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 200 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Victoria Sandwich
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line and grease 2 x round 20cm sandwich tins.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar on a high speed in a food mixer for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until completely incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.
  4. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together in separate mixing bowl, then add into the food mixer. Beat until just combined.
  5. Stir in the milk to lighten the batter then divide the batter equally between the two sandwich tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes in their tins, then turn out onto cooling racks and leave to cool completely before filling.
Buttercream
  1. Beat the icing sugar with the unsalted butter for up to 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  2. Add the whole milk, vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined.
Assembly
  1. Take one of your sponges and slather on the raspberry jam very evenly over the surface, spreading to the edge.
  2. 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.
  3. Place the second sponge carefully on the top of the filling and sprinkle the caster sugar evenly over the surface.
  4. Serve to happy smiling faces.
Recipe Notes
  • Since originally writing this post I have since transitioned to 100% gluten-free. That's not to say that I don't bake this cake anymore though. I do! I just use a few gluten-free flours in place of the plain flour. The substitution is this: 85g sweet rice flour, 60g gluten-free oat flour, 50g millet flour, 25g potato starch, 25g tapioca starch. Whisk these flours together well and then use as you would the plain flour in this recipe. Happy gluten-free baking!

Eccleswell Tart

Eccleswell Tart

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

This tart came about as a way of marrying my two favourite English tea time treats, Eccles cakes and Bakewell tarts. I don’t always want to choose between them at the bakery and it is not always prudent to have both. This way I can have both but not feel too greedy, the ginormous wedge I serve myself probably nullifies my efforts though.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

I have made this tart several times now over the past year and have been meaning to include it in my blog but it has never quite survived long enough to reach the photography stage.  It is a really lovely tart, a bit more going on than your average Bakewell tart but the frangipane and the juicy fruit marry up beautifully. It is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

I usually make my own ground almonds as I find shop bought just tastes a little bland. Sometimes that is what you are looking for in this ingredient but on this occasion I toasted and ground up my own almonds. I toasted them a little over here but it was a happy accident as it gave this particular tart a lovely biscuit flavour and a gold frangipane colour. If you don’t want to go to the trouble then you can use shop bought ground almonds totally guilt free but the results are slightly different as although the frangipane topping is softer it is not quite as almondy. I suggest using a dash of almond extract along with the vanilla extract if you are going that way.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

My Eccles cake mixture depends totally on what I have in my cupboard. I was lucky enough this weekend to have a grand stock of dried fruit but even so the marriage of currants and sultanas is traditional and in my mind the best. I couldn’t resist adding a little stem ginger though as I think it’s pretty fabulous. The marmalade was included in lieu of mixed peel since a certain somebody in my household refuses point blank to eat mixed peel and this way I can still achieve the citrus note without offending my husband. If you still happen to have mincemeat leftover from Christmas though then by all means use it here to clear out your cupboards. Eccles cakes are just boozeless and suetless mincemeat anyway.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

Eccleswell Tart

For the Pastry
270g plain flour
100g unsalted butter, fridge cold
100g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

For the Eccles Mixture
20g butter
1½ tbsp breakfast marmalade
100g currants
50g sultanas
60g light brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
1 ball of stem ginger, finely chopped
pinch of salt

For the Frangipane
Adapted from Richard Bertinet’s Almond Cream
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
25g plain flour
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
20g flaked almonds to decorate

1 x 18cm round loose-bottomed tart tin

  1. To begin with make your pastry. Take the butter out of the fridge and slice very finely with a sharp knife, then place in a large mixing bowl with the flour.
  2. Tear the butter up and coat thoroughly with the flour, then begin to rub gently between your fingertips until you reach very rough breadcrumbs, don’t take it too fine. It should take less than 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, salt, egg and egg yolk then bring together into a dough. Tip it out onto the work surface and press together to form a ball. Wrap in baking parchment and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile make the eccles mixture. Melt the butter together with the marmalade in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat then add the rest of the ingredients, stir together and set aside to cool.
  5. Then make your frangipane by creaming the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
  6. Add the ground almonds and mix together until fully incorporated.
  7. Add the flour and egg and egg yolk and vanilla and carry on mixing until smooth. Place the frangipane in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  8. Once the frangipane is in the fridge you can roll out your pastry. Roll until it is about 3mm thick and line the pastry into your tart tin. Leave the edges untrimmed then place the pastry tart tin in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  9. Once ready you can assemble your tart. Spread the eccles mixture onto the bottom of the tart in an even layer. Then spoon the frangipane on top to cover completely, smoothing it down on top. Finally scatter the flaked almonds on the top.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes then cover the tart with foil to stop from browning any further and bake for another 20 minutes. Leave in the tin to cool for about half an hour, then trim the pastry around the edges and remove from the tart tin.
  11. Serve at room temperature at 4pm with a lovely cup of tea.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz

I had never been inside the Ritz.  Of course I must discount the amount of time I have spent watching Notting Hill that I misremembered whether I had indeed wandered the hotel corridors being dragged into various press junkets.  Did you know you can’t get into the Ritz from the front; the front door is round the side.  Or course you did, but I didn’t.  Julia Roberts lied.  It is nice though to feel sometimes like a tourist in your own city and I relished the pretense, whipping out my camera and getting in everyone’s way as I took my pictures.

We were given the gift of Afternoon Tea at the Ritz several, and I mean several, months ago.  So long ago in fact that we have only just snuck our visit in under the wire, before it became just a worthless fancy piece of card in an overly elaborate gift box.  We can’t be the only people that have voucherphobia.  We have a shoebox full of them maturing like forgotten cheese.  I suddenly wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats remembering in a panic that I must spend the vouchers before they become redundant.  On the odd brazen occasion I will proudly spend my voucher, online mind, if it’s a voucher that is to be redeemed in store then that is another entirely different struggle.  I spend an inordinate amount of time weighing up the perfect purchase, making sure my spending adds up to exactly the amount given on the voucher.  Heaven forefend I should spend my own money to make up the difference, or even worse, underspend, giving life to a paltry credit note stubbornly retaining £1.50 on it for all eternity.

Ritz

It turns out that the Ritz gift certificate was one of the most difficult to spend as once we got our act in gear it took several attempts of diary co-ordination and holiday re-arranging before we could nail down a date.  Even then, we booked four months in advance and still couldn’t get the elusive tea slot.  We had to make do with afternoon tea so early that you might be so bold as to proclaim it lunch.  But if the Ritz says it’s tea then tea it is.

So the occasion was set.  We dug out our upmarket clothing from the depths of the wardrobe, I stuck on some pointy heels, which usually only make their appearance at weddings, an impulsive decision which seemed so very elegant in front of my bedroom mirror.  Hobbling down the steps at Finsbury Park station though I looked more like an old crone with an axe to grind against a Disney princess.  I really should be wearing stilettos around my house whilst I am chasing after puppy instead of my fluffy M&S slippers to get the practice in.

Rivoli bar at the RitzWe luckily arrived early enough, despite my shoe disability, to duck into the Ritz’s 1920s Rivoli bar, blending in with our finery and immediately warming to our roles as members of the jazz era hoi polloi.  It might have been something to do with the fact that we had watched The Great Gatsby the day before so we already had a whiff of debauchery about us which was soon bolstered by the foamy and decadent cocktails we quaffed.

Rivoli Bar3

We were sat at our table for two for tea on the dot of our appointment and encouraged to choose our tea, the only decision we would need to make for the next couple of hours.  I had Assam, as I like a lovely strong depth to my tea that knocks you in the face, especially when standing up to a sugar invasion.  A three-tier cake stand was immediately set before us, with crust free soldiered sandwiches on bread so light and fluffy so as to merely serve as thoughtful support to the gentle fillings within.

Tea table1

As always in an afternoon tea, the outstanding sandwich was the cucumber, it is a classic for a reason, thinly slithered between the bread with a refreshing touch of tzatziki. The chicken was also quietly delicious, just small cubes of juicy breast meat moistened by only a careful smear of butter.  The other sandwiches included naked smoked salmon; chunky ham dabbed with mustard, husky cheddar with sweet pickle and finally crumbled egg, which I’m sorry I can’t comment on as I swapped my egg for another cucumber.

sandwiches1On the top tier of our tower was a delicate selection of patisserie.  A vanilla slice had the perfect balance of crème patissiere held aloft by layers of puff pastry that fell apart beautifully when you touched your fork to it.  The generous salted caramel macaroon which also adorned the top tier was considered the favourite.  A shard of dark chocolate was sandwiched in the middle of the chewy macaroon to add a snap and bitterness which undercut the sweet caramel.  The candy pink rhubarb fancy, which we ate next, hid inside its jellied exterior a drop of fresh rhubarb and a whip of sweet cream on a delicate bed of cake.  The final patisserie was a genteel slice of chocolate cake, embossed with the Ritz emblem.  Light on the tongue but intensely chocolatey.

patisserie1

At this point we had to take a champagne intermission and two bubbling glasses were presented to us.  The dry nip of champagne turned out to be the perfect way to re-energise and return to our banquet with vigor.  Just in time for our middle tier to be filled with four gleaming and petit scones, two with fruit, the others without, accompanied by silver pots crammed with sweet and fruity strawberry jam and lashings of clotted cream.

tea table3

Our teapots were replenished at this point for the final indulgence as we were visited by a wheeled trolley offering two different types of cake.  We chose a slice each of soft squidgy pecan cake embellished with a pane of dark chocolate and a lightly salted caramel buttercream and also a perfect example of a lemon drizzle cake, sodden with lemon, fragrant with sharp zest and a sugared crunch of icing to frost the top.

This really is the best and most traditional afternoon tea in London.  The gallery where the tea is served is refined but dazzling with plunging chandeliers and gold décor.  We were treated like royalty throughout despite our propensity to launch ourselves like starved hyenas on every morsel of cake the second it was put before us.

tea and sandwiches1Now I’m a lady.  The perfect English Rose if you will, so I cannot possibly disclose that I might have eaten so much cake that the zipper on the back of my dress burst open just as I was finishing a last morsel of the lemon drizzle.  It certainly did not cause mild panic and a swift maneuvering to cover up my hypothetical modesty with my coat.  A coat which, by the way, has always been derided by my husband as being two sizes too big, a fact which meant it now hid every sordid secret from the public. Look who’s laughing now.  Well, he was obviously, as I was the one walking down Piccadilly with half a dress hanging off, clutching at my coat for dear life.  Anyhoo, it turns out the whole ordeal was all for the best as it gave the cake more room to breathe on the way home.  Perhaps a diet might be in order.  Or, more likely – a new dress as I think I definitely need to frequent more of London’s finest afternoon teas, voucher or no voucher.