Wee Victoria Sandwiches

I first tasted the Victoria Sandwich on a trip to Ireland. My husband is from Dublin, and whenever we’re there, I make a bee line for Marks and Spencer’s food halls and their sweets aisles where there are scores of miniature cakes and pies packaged up like Oreos. It’s not that the U.S. (and especially San Francisco) doesn’t have its fair share of sweet treats, but here good quality miniature confections are usually only available at a bakery and sold individually. It was on one of these trips to Dublin that I noticed the Victoria Sandwiches box filled with miniature cakes. Being one of those people who will pay more for something in miniature than I will for the regular sized item, I picked them up and they became one of my favorite tea time treats.

Traditionally this is made as a regular size two layer cake. Having had both, I prefer the bite size variety, but feel free to make this recipe as one large cake by doubling the ingredients and making two layers.

Wee Victoria Sandwiches (makes approximately 18 wee sandwiches)

Sponge:
1 cup (340ml) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5ml) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (5ml) salt
1 cube (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (240ml) sugar*
2 large (US) medium (EU) eggs, room temperature

Filling:
Approximately 1 cup strawberry jam, or any fruit preserve you prefer**
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
A few drops vanilla
A pinch or two of sugar or your favorite sweetener

Powdered/confectioners/icing sugar for decoration
1 9-inch (23cm) cake tin, round or square
1 1/2-inch (4cm) biscuit cutter

Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).

Butter the cake tin. Add a layer of parchment paper to bottom. Butter top of parchment.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture and fold into batter. Batter will be thick.

Add batter to prepared pan, and spread with knife to level top.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Watch the cake carefully. It cooks quickly, and burns quickly towards the end.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack, remove parchment paper, and let cool completely.

Place cake on cutting board (top/rounded side up), and using the inch biscuit cutter, cut rounds into the cake. Keep the rounds in an airtight container or covered with a towel while preparing the filling so they don’t dry out.

Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Add a few drops of vanilla and a few pinches of sugar to taste.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the rounds across the middle.

Add a bit of jam to the bottom round. Gravity will usually do the trick spreading the jam to the sides, even if it’s very thick. Trying to spread it might tear the tiny cake, and then gravity will take it over the edge.

Either dollop some cream on top, or use a piping bag to add a layer of cream.

Place the top layer of cake on the cream. Sprinkle with sifted confectioners sugar or add another swirl of cream.

Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

*I prefer to use organic sugars and sweeteners, but the large grain and the extra molasses found in a lot of these sugars makes creaming with butter difficult. It doesn’t really work and the resulting cake has a surface pebbled with little sugar granules, which isn’t a disaster, but you should know that’s what will happen. You might be able to get around this by whizzing your sugar in a food processor to break it down into more of a powder. The best sugar for this recipe is superfine/caster sugar, but regular sugar will do.

**If your jam is runny to the point of liquid, you can thicken it by simmering it over low heat until you get a better consistency. Remember it will thicken as it cools so don’t go too far.