These Victoria Sponge Cupcakes are the ultimate twist on the British classic. Vanilla cupcakes are sandwiched with sweetened whipped cream and jam making these a beautiful addition to your afternoon tea party. Celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in style!
There is nothing more classicly British than an afternoon tea where you'll find traditional scones, shortbread biscuits and Strawberry Eton Mess. Along with cucumber sandwiches, you could close your eyes and imagine you are on set in Downton Abbey!
These Victoria Sponge Cupcakes have a rightful place at a British afternoon tea or picnic. Instead of one Victoria Sandwich Sponge Cake, I've made individual Victoria sponges. A light, airy vanilla cupcake halved and sandwiched with my favourite condiments, whipped cream and strawberry jam. What a brilliant concept!
The cream is sweetened to help stabilise it and accompanies the vanilla sponge and strawberry jam perfectly. It's a match made in heaven! With the Queen's Jubilee fast approaching, you can be sure that I'll be serving these mini Victoria Sponge Cakes with my English Breakfast tea!
Why is it called a Victoria Sponge?
Before we dive into creating these cupcakes, let's take a step back and understand how this simple cake got its name and became the quintessential British teatime treat.
The name harks back to Queen Victoria herself when this simple sponge cake was named after her in 1855. Teatime, (the occasion between lunch and dinner) only became popular during this time when Queen Victoria deemed this an 'occasion' and revelled in sweet treats.
I have to say - the Victoria Sponge, however humble in its appearance holds a worthy place on the tea table. Its simplicity calls for the perfect sponge texture and taste. It forces your hand and goes back to basics to create the most delightful, airy sponge.
It feels totally fitting to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in a couple of weeks with these gorgeous cupcakes (and maybe a glass of Pimms instead of a cup of tea!)
Why you'll love this recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples.
- The recipe comes together quickly and simply. the cupcakes are incredibly easy to make and will take no more than 20 minutes for you to make the batter and get them in the oven. The longest waiting time will be making sure they are totally cool before cutting and filling them!
- Keep them simple or decorate to your heart's content. Spoon the cream and jam onto these and finish with a simple dusting of icing sugar. Or go all out and pipe on the cream and add more swirls on top finished off with a fresh strawberry. Perfect for a high tea or baby shower!
The list is small when it comes to making Victoria Sponge- and the same goes when you turn it into cupcakes as I've done today. There are a few notes on a couple of ingredients that you should check out below.
With such few ingredients, I recommend using the best quality that you can, especially when it comes to the butter, vanilla and jam. I firmly believe this can improve the taste.
Butter vs Margarine - You can use either butter or margarine for this recipe. I generally prefer to use butter as the cupcakes turn out more golden and I think they have more depth of flavour. If you use butter then make sure it's at room temperature before baking. Margarine can be used straight from the fridge.
Flour - Traditionally Victoria sponge cakes are made using self-raising flour. It already has baking powder and salt within. Teamed with the air incorporated when creaming the butter and sugar, the sponge is light and fluffy.
However, I know that many of you don't have access to self-raising flour, or it isn't as readily available as it is here in the UK. That's no problem at all. Substitute the self-raising flour with plain (all-purpose flour). Add in 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. You'll have a beautifully tender sponge too.
Eggs - I've used three large eggs in this batter. They have to be at room temperature when adding them. If you forget to take them out of the fridge in time, then place them in a bowl of warm water for ten minutes to bring them to room temperature.
Vanilla extract - the dominant flavour of the cupcakes is vanilla- so using good quality vanilla extract is essential. Don't be tempted to use vanilla essence which is has a fake vanilla taste. You can substitute the extract for vanilla bean paste or the vanilla seeds scraped from a vanilla pod.
Strawberry jam - I use my favourite Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve as the flavour and quality are incomparable. You pick your favourite brand and use that.
How to make Victoria Sponge Cupcakes
There are two ways that the sponge batter can be made. The all-in-one method or the creaming method. The all in one is quicker as you add all the ingredients into one bowl and beat them together, but I have found that you have a tendency to over mix and there isn't as much aeration in the batter which creates a denser crumb.
I prefer the creaming method which is beating the butter and sugar together at the start. It's a very common way of making a batter and this step breaks down the sugar crystals into the butter but also adds air into the butter (you can see this as it will go paler). The air will help puff the batter up whilst baking - which means a fluffy sponge. Exactly what we want!
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
1. Cream butter and sugar together. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). Add your room temperature butter and the sugar to a large mixing bowl and cream them together by beating them with electric hand-held beaters. (Use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment if you prefer). You want to beat for around 3 minutes until you can see the butter has thickened and is visibly paler (Image 1 & 2).
TIP: Flatter cupcakes
You'll notice that the temperature I recommend preheating the oven to and baking the cupcakes at is 160C (320F), which is lower than standard.
The lower temperature means a slightly longer bake time which also results in less doming on the cupcakes which is key if you strive for flatter cupcakes.
2. Add in the eggs and extract. The eggs get beaten into the batter one at a time. Beat the mixture on low and ensure the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. The vanilla extract can go into the batter along with the first egg (Image 3 & 4).
If the mixture looks curdled, simply add a tablespoon or two of flour and mix it in. This will help bring the batter back together. The curdled consistency is a result of the butter or eggs not being at room temperature to emulsify together.
TIP: Scrape down the bowl periodically
After creaming the butter and beating in each egg, I recommend that you scrape down the base and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Unmixed batter will be smeared on the edges of the bowl and won't be mixed in until you fill the cupcakes. This will definitely affect the end result.
Scraping down will ensure even incorporation of all the ingredients. It's a simple step but so effective in securing you great cupcakes.
3. Add flour then milk. I'm all about saving the number of bowls I need to wash up, so sift the self-raising flour right on top of the batter into the mixing bowl. There's no need to sift it into a separate bowl. Mix it on low into the batter until some flour streaks remain. This ensures that you won't overmix! (Image 5)
Add the milk and fold through until just incorporated. That's it - the batter is made! So simple, right?! (Image 6 & 7)
4. Fill cupcake cases, bake then halve. Now that the batter is ready, it's time to fill the cupcake cases. Place the paper cases into the cupcake pan, then distribute the batter evenly between the 12 paper cases. You want to fill each case no more than ¾ of the way up. (Image 8 & 9)
TIP: Fill paper cases with an icecream scoop
This is such an effective way to fill your cases. Using an ice cream scoop (or cookie scoop) means a quicker and more mess-free way of getting your batter into the cases.
I find one heaped scoop is enough to fill each case.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 18 to 25 minutes until golden and the centre of the sponge when pressed, springs back (Image 10). Leave to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
Slice in half. Once the sponge is totally cool, it's time to construct our Victoria Sponge Cupcakes. Carefully remove the paper cases and discard them. Using a serrated knife, slice the cupcakes in half so that you now have the cupcake top and the bottom (Image 11).
5. Fill and decorate! The fun part. Add the cream, vanilla extract and powdered icing sugar to a bowl and whip until firm peaks (Image 12). Spoon the cream into a piping bag fitted with your favourite piping nozzle and pipe the cream onto the bottom half of the cupcakes (Image 13). You can dollop the cream onto the cupcake if you prefer.
Then pipe or spoon the strawberry jam over the cream (Image 14). Place the top half of the cupcake over the jam to sandwich the filling together (Image 15). Leave to set for 20 minutes in a cool place (I don't recommend the refrigerator though as this dries out the sponge in my opinion. (Image 7 & 8)
Dust the tops liberally with icing sugar and decorate with a slice of strawberry. Alternatively, you can sprinkle caster sugar over the top as a traditional Victoria sponge does for a simple look.
Serve immediately with a lovely cup of tea!
Victoria Sponge Cupcakes use a very simple, basic sponge recipe that is both charming and utterly delicious. If you wanted to, you can adapt the cupcakes into other flavours to compliment the cream and strawberries. I've also included some ideas if you don't want to slice the cupcakes in half.
Lemon Cupcakes: Add lemon zest to the sugar and rub it together to release the oils. Then incorporate it into the batter as per the method. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for a more citrus kick.
Chocolate Cupcakes: Substitute a ¼ cup of flour for cocoa powder for incredible chocolate cupcakes.
Don't include the cream: I personally love these with cream, but did you know that a traditional Victoria Sponge Cake is actually only sandwiched with jam and not a combination of jam and cream. And it included raspberry jam, not strawberry jam.
Sandwich with buttercream rather than cream: There are no two ways about it, buttercream can set firmer than whipped cream. I adore the soft nature of whipped cream in these cupcakes, but it can get a little messy to eat and it may not suit the situation you are in to serve them like that. Use your favourite vanilla buttercream to sandwich the two halves together for an easier to eat alternative.
Pro tips recap
Room temperature ingredients. I cannot stress the importance of having room temperature butter and eggs. It produces a more tender sponge but also allows for flatter tops if the batter is at room temperature before going onto the oven.
Lower oven temperature. Minimise those cupcake domes by baking the cupcake at a slightly lower temperature but for longer.
Scrape down the base and sides of the bowl often. This ensures even mixing of the batter so that you aren't left with uneven streaks throughout the sponge.
Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake case. The best tip to minimise mess and fill the cases evenly.
Frequently asked questions
This could be due to not incorporating enough air into the batter through creaming the butter and sugar. If using plain flour and baking powder- check the use-by date of the baking powder also.
If you find this might be a bit fiddly for you - then an alternative would be to scoop a teaspoon worth of sponge from the top of the cupcake. Fill the hole with jam and then swirl with whipped cream over the top. Same flavours, just a different way of serving them!
Filled cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Note that the sponge will tighten once refrigerated so leave the cupcakes at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Unfilled cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
The finished Victoria Sponge Cupcakes don't freeze, unfortunately. However, you can freeze the undecorated cupcakes in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature.
Equipment you’ll need
- Cupcake pan.
- Medium mixing bowl
- Electric hand-held beaters: If you don't own a standmixer- then I really do recommend investing in electric hand-held beaters. They can be quite inexpensive and really make such a difference to have in your baking arsenal.
More fabulous strawberry recipes
If you tried these Victoria Sponge Cupcakes or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Victoria Sponge Cupcakes Recipe
- 170 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 200 g granulated sugar, or caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 190 g self-raising flour, or 190g/1½ cups plain (all-purpose) flour, 1½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.
- 60 ml whole milk
- 80 g strawberry jam
- 30 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 240 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 8 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- fresh strawberries to decorate, optional
- Cream butter and sugar together. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). Add the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat on medium-high speed using an electric hand-held whisk until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add in the eggs and extract. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract in with the first egg. Make sure to scrape down the base and sides of the bowl after each addition. (If the mixture looks as if it might curdle, mix in a few tablespoons of the flour in).
- Add flour then milk. Sift over the flour and beat on low until a few flour streaks remain. Next, fold in the milk until incorporated.
- Fill cupcake cases, bake then halve. Place cupcake cases into a cupcake pan. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly between the cupcake cases making sure not to fill more than ¾ full.Bake in the preheated oven for 18-25 minutes until the cupcakes are golden and spring back when lightly touched. Leave cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan and cooling completely on a wire rack.Once completely cooled, remove the paper liners and using a serrated knife, slice the cupcakes in half
- Fill and decorate! In a medium bowl, add the cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon powdered icing sugar and whip until firm peaks. Spoon the cream into a piping bag fitted with your favourite piping tip. Place jam in a piping bag or small ziplock back with the corner cut off. Pipe cream onto the bottom halves of the cupcake. Pipe strawberry jam on top of the cream. (You can spoon the cream and jam onto the cupcake base if you prefer.) Carefully place the top of the cupcakes over the jam. Dust the cupcake tops with powdered icing sugar and decorate with a sliced strawberry. Set aside for 30 minutes for the cream to set. Serve with your favourite cup of tea!
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
Unfilled cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. To Freeze: The finished Victoria Sponge Cupcakes don't freeze, unfortunately. However, you can freeze the undecorated cupcakes in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature. TIP 1: Room temperature ingredients. I cannot stress the importance of having room temperature butter and eggs. It produces a more tender sponge but also allows for flatter tops if the batter is at room temperature before going onto the oven. TIP 2: Lower oven temperature. Minimise those cupcake domes by baking the cupcake at a slightly lower temperature but for longer. TIP 3: Scrape down the base and sides of the bowl often. This ensures even mixing of the batter so that you aren't left with uneven streaks throughout the sponge. TIP 4: Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake case. The best tip to minimise mess and fill the cases evenly.