Victoria Sponge Cupcakes

Victoria Sponge Cupcakes

Thanks to the Queen, we enjoyed a lovely (but very wet) four day weekend in celebration of her jubilee. I ended up being interviewed on the CBC news channel! Check it out here. How exciting and totally random is that?! Being a Canadian abroad can have its advantages, for sure.

One of the many celebrations over the weekend included a picnic at our local riverside park. I decided to bring some cakes, and combined two English teatime classics: butterfly cakes and Victoria sponge cake. Butterfly cakes are vanilla (or any flavour, really) cupcakes with a little conical “divot” cut out of the top. This is cut in half, the cupcake is then filled with buttercream, and the top is repositioned back on top to look like butterfly wings. A Victoria sponge is a plain layer cake with jam (usually strawberry or raspberry) and cream in the middle, dusted with icing sugar. To combine the two, I used my trusty Nigella Lawson Victoria sponge recipe, poured the batter in cupcake cases (Cath Kidston to keep it British, of course), and put strawberry jam in the centre of each cake.

My 4-year-old Mia loved helping out with this one and with the exception of cutting out the tops with my sharp, pointy knife, she put them together herself. The wonderful thing about this cake batter is that you can chuck all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend it all together. No creaming of butter and sugar, no sifting, and totally hands-free mixing. I love that it’s not terribly exact – if you add a little too much or too little milk, it doesn’t seem to matter. In the baking world, this is a rarity.

This recipe makes two 8 inch round cakes, or around 18 cupcakes- and by “cupcakes”, I mean North American-sized cupcakes. If you’re using English tins and cake liners, the batter will stretch a lot further to almost two dozen.

Victoria Sponge Cupcakes


  • For the cupcake:
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (225g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups (200g) self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup (25g) cornflour/cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (if using a food processor – otherwise, you can leave this out)
  • 3 (45 ml) tablespoons whole milk (approx.)
  • For the filling:
  • Strawberry or raspberry jam
  • Icing sugar for dusting on top


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit/180 degrees Celcius.

If you are using a food processor, add the butter, sugar, vanilla, flour, cornstarch/cornflour, and baking powder.

Combine until fairly smooth, then add the eggs one at a time and blend well.

Gradually add enough milk until the batter is “dropping consistency”  (i.e. it falls reluctantly off the end of a spoon.)

If you are using the traditional hand mixer/wooden spoon and big biceps method, cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy.

In another bowl, place the flour.

To the butter and sugar mixture, add the eggs one at a time, along with a spoonful of the flour to help prevent curdling.

If it does curdle, don’t panic – it will come together in the end.

Stir in the vanilla and then fold in the rest of the flour mixture.

Add enough milk until it’s dropping consistency

Fill the cupcake cases about 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

When you can press on the top of the cupcake and it springs backmediately, it’s done.

You can also use a cake tester or toothpick to test the middle.

Let the cakes cool completely on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut out a cone-shaped piece. Fill the hole with the jam, and cut the circular end of the cone in half. Place the two halves on top of the jam so they look like wings, and dust with icing sugar.

These keep fairly well in an airtight container for around 2-3 days. If you want to make these ahead of time, make the cupcakes and pop them into the freezer. Defrost thoroughly and cut and fill as above. They will keep nicely in the freezer for around 2 months.

A nice variation is a lemon sponge (same as above but add the zest of 1 lemon) with lemon curd in the middle.

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  1. Confused
    June 08, 11:45 Reply

    Ok, I am somewhat confused by the way this recipe has been written. The ingredients says that baking powder is only required if using a food processor, but the “traditional” instructions say “combine the flour and baking powder”.

    Do I use baking powder with a hand mixer or not?

    (as an aside, if not, why not? Why does using a food processor require baking powder while a hand mixer does not?)

    Cakes look lovely though!

  2. Lisa Durbin
    June 08, 12:10 Reply

    Sorry, my mistake.

    If you use a food processor, use the baking powder. If using a hand mixer, DON’T use it (I’ll ask for that bit to be deleted.) And I honestly don’t know why you only need it when using a food processor – Nigella says so and I trust in Nigella. 😉 I’d have to research that one and get back to you, but it’s just how the recipe is written in “How to be a Domestic Goddess”.

  3. Lisa Durbin
    June 08, 12:18 Reply

    I’ve asked the Domestic Goddess herself on Twitter – if she replies (not holding my breath!), I will update here. 🙂

  4. Melanie
    June 08, 12:56 Reply

    I don’t understand what you mean by “keep fairly well in an airtight container for around 2-3 days”? Surely cake disappears if you don’t eat it all immediately!

  5. Lisa Durbin
    June 08, 13:08 Reply

    Oh yes, I should clarify – it keeps fairly well for 2-3 days if it’s not actually in my house. Preferably under lock and key!!!

  6. Anne
    June 11, 11:36 Reply

    Yum – I grew up in New Zealand making (and eating of course!) butterfly cakes. We put cream in the middle – my Canadian kids love them – we generally make chocolate ones ‘cos we (read me – the chef baker) are chocoholics.

    In fact, this recipe is in the all-time best seller recipe book in New Zealand The Edmond’s Recipe Book. It has been in print since the 1920s and is still a go-to book for biscuits (or cookies as you call them) and cakes.

    Yours look absolutely delicious and make me want to make some right now and not mark the essays that are literally sitting right in front o

  7. Anne
    June 11, 11:37 Reply

    whoops – at the end that was supposed to read

    “right in front of me.”

  8. Lisa Durbin
    June 11, 16:29 Reply

    Procrastination baking! I’m a fan of that! Love the sound of chocolate butterfly cakes.

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