A very Victorian bake sale

Michelle Keeley (LJMU, 3rd year)

This was first published on Michelle’s blog ”Typewriter and Teacakes

Yesterday afternoon, 68 Hope St played host to a Victorian bake sale in aid of Comic Relief. Organised by Victorianist and history lecturer, Dr Lucie Matthews-Jones, the idea was that you had to create a cake from scratch using a Victorian Recipe with no modern electrical equipment. People then paid £2 on the day to eat unlimited cake, drink unlimited tea and judge the best cakes! (During the bake sale, a mammoth £119.25 was raised for Comic Relief!)

With this in mind, me and my friend Amy decided to have an evening of baking on Wednesday. We decided on a traditional Victoria sponge. Simple, but tasty. After getting in a quick shop of ingredients, we began and soon realised how much effort Victorian women put into baking and how much butter. I also have a theory on why Victorian women were so nice and tiny…the relentless whisking by hand.  Below is a picture of Amy putting her back into it like a good ‘Angel in the house.’

We also didn’t have any icing sugar which is pretty much a key ingredient when making a Victorian Victoria Sponge. After a quick Google search, we found out that if you grind sugar you can get the same effect for the butter cream icing and filling and of course, it was a little more authentic than packaged icing sugar!!

We topped the cake all Mrs Beeton Style with kiwis and decided to go overboard with butter cream icing and jam all over the top of it. Also, when lacking a piping bag, a plastic sandwich bag can be just as effective if you snip off a corner and twist the bag into shape. Here’s the finished product:

Below is the marvellous bake sale!! (note our cake oozing out butter cream and jam) All of the cakes were different and delicious and you could really taste the difference between a fully hand made cake, using slow, traditional methods and one done quickly with a whisk and manufactured goods. The bake sale really reminded me of how we need to slow down a little and appreciate the small things. We live in a world where we are bombarded with fast technology every day so it was nice to sit down and enjoy some Slow Movement cake for an afternoon, as well as it being a great way to raise money for a good cause.


As for the competition, our cake won THIRD PRIZE!! There’s also still time to sponsor Lucie and the bake sale (although all the cake has gone) on-line HERE

If you fancy making your own Victorian goodies, why not take a look at Mrs Beeton’s reviccake23cipe book, which is available on-line HERE


Base: 200g of caster sugar, 4 beaten eggs, 200g butter, 200g self raising flour, 1tsp baking powder, 2 tsp of milk, drop of vanilla extract

Filling & top: 100g softened butter, 140g icing sugar (ground sugar for us!), drop of vanilla extract, good quality jam!, kiwis.

Method: For the base, we popped everything into a bowl and stirred until creamy and there were no lumps. This took about 20 – 30 mins and we worked like a tag team. We then greased the baking tins and spread the mixture evenly and baked for 35 mins, until the cake sprung back when pressed. We took them out and left to cool on a cooling tray.

For the filling, we ground sugar until fine and mixed in with the butter until we had a nice creamy consistency without lumps. We then added a few drops of vanilla extract and mixed again. We smothered one half of the cake in jam, and the other in the butter cream filling and put them together. We cut kiwis and decorated the top with them lots more butter cream and jam!

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