Victorian Sandwich

Poor Lady Flora had tummy aches and her belly started swelling. As she was a lady-in-waiting to the the Queen’s mother, the all-powerful Duchess of Kent, she was seen by the royal physician, Sir Dr Clark. Perhaps, “seen” is inaccurate in this case, because the modest maiden demurely refused to be examined.

LadyFloraHastings.jpg

The belly kept growing, quite evident in fashionable Victorian dresses, and so did the rumors. “Obviously with child, – whispered the Queen’s Lady of the Bedchamber, the Duchess of Bedford, – Dr Clark said so!” “Terrible! – confirmed Baroness Lehzen, the Queen’s former governess and an avowed enemy of Lady Flora,- What a scandal! Mein Gott! An unmarried madhen, having an affair, and with whom! Ach!” So the Queen wrote in her journal that she suspected Sir John Conroy, the man rumored to have been her mother’s lover, the author of the infamous Kensington system which had cut off the young princess’ contacts with her beloved uncles, to be the father.

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The Queen hated both John Conroy and Flora Hastings to such an extent that she did not allow both of them at court! She wrote to her mother, “I thought you would not expect me to invite Sir John Conroy after his conduct towards me for some years past.” (Hibbert, 2001). Of course, she believed the pregnancy story! But when chaste and much maligned  Lady Flora was eventually examined by royal doctors and found to have an advanced tumor, the Queen herself visited her at her deathbed. Lady Flora Hastings passed away at the age of 33, leaving a collection of poems, later edited and published by her sister. 

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Meanwhile, Lady Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, one of the two chief “baby scandal” purveyors, was suffering from pangs. Lest you think those were pangs of remorse, rest easy – Lady Anna was experiencing “a sinking feeling” in the middle of the afternoon, “because of the long gap between luncheon and dinner and so asked her maid to bring her all the necessary tea things and something to eat–probably traditional bread and butter–to her private room in order that she might stave off her hunger pangs” (http://www.foodtimeline.org). Certainly, the gap between a noontime luncheon and a fashionably late 7:30 – 8 o’clock dinner would make anyone starve, and thus a five-o-clock tea was born.

afternoon-tea

By the end of the century, afternoon tea had gravitated from nobility to all classes of society, as tea became available and accessible to all. “The table was laid…there were the best things with a fat pink rose on the side of each cup; hearts of lettuce, thin bread and butter, and the crisp little cakes that had been baked in readiness that morning.” (A Social History of Tea, Pettigrew, 2001). One of those little cakes is called Victorian Sandwich.

Sponge roll 1.jpg

In addition to the concept of afternoon tea itself, Victorian era bequested to us two things without which it would’ve been unthinkable: baking powder and sponge cake. There are two ways of making Victorian Sandwich. You can make a square fairly tall sponge cake, cool it, and cut it horizontally into two layers. That requires precision. You can also choose an easy way out by baking a long thin sponge cake and cutting it into two layers vertically. As you see, I do the second one. It takes the same proportions of the same ingredients – flour, eggs or substitute, sugar or zylitol, and a pinch of baking powder (for our purposes, spelt is gluten free, but consult you doctor or use GF flour) – I simply find it easier to manage.

Victorian sponge 1.jpg

Classic Victorian Sandwich would have jam in the middle – any kind of jam you prefer! – and sometimes they used several different kinds in different parts of the cake. I used sugar free blueberry jam and, to make it more fun, added a shot of spiced rum to it. As you see, you simply spread it on the bottom layer and cover it with the top layer.

Victorian sponge 2.jpg

Instead of just sprinkling some caster sugar on top, as they would originally do, I simply couldn’t have a dessert without chocolate, so I spread a simple chocolate buttercream on top. It’s not a dessert without chocolate, right? Then I made it look festive by using some colored sprinkles. Here comes a crucial part: remember, these are supposed to be finger sandwiches, so you can’t serve it as a cake; you must cut the cake into squares and arrange those on a pretty platter in a pleasing pattern. Gently, gently, it’s moist, soft, and fragile, just like those Victorian ladies!

Victorian sponge 3

Now you are ready to issue formal invitations for an informal afternoon gathering of friends and family in your drawing room. What – you don’t have a drawing room? Not to worry, as the Duchess herself at first served the tea in the garden. Make it casual, make it casually pretty, and have fun!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs or substitutes
  • 1/2 cup sugar or zylitol
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup spelt or gluten free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup jam of your choice
  • 1 shot (2 oz) spiced rum
  • 1/2 cup Smart Balance or any non-dairy butter substitute
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar or zylitol
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Multicolored sprinkles to garnish

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly mist 13 X 9 ” baking sheet with oil. If your baking sheet is larger, the layers will be thinner,  and you will have more pieces.
  • Separate egg whites, whip until stiff peaks form, gradually adding sugar or zylitol and vanilla extract. Add egg yolks, whip together until sugar fully dissolves. Gradually and gently incorporate flour and baking powder.
  • Spread batter evenly on baking sheet, bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on rack, invert onto working surface.
  • Mix jam with rum. Cream butter substitute with zylitol and cocoa powder.
  • Cut sponge into two layers. Spread jam evenly on one layer, cover with second layer. Spread buttercream on top, garnish with sprinkles. Cut into 12 squares.

Enjoy! 

My e-book is available for sale at https://www.amazon.com/author/koolkosherkitchen.

Please don’t forget to leave a review – thank you!

 

 

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60 Comments Add yours

  1. A wonderful story leading to a classy sandwich.. Lovely one, Dolly..I simply loved both – the sandwich and the story.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Anuradha; I am so glad you like it!

      Like

  2. A_Boleyn says:

    For an era renowned for prim and proper behaviour, the Victorian era was rife with scandal, I think. 🙂

    Five o’clock tea is a nice custom though not one we can now fit into our busy working lives. I like seeing the assortment of sweet and savoury items on the multi-level stands.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think scandals tend to flare up during the times of restrictions. Five o’clock tea appeared because of late dinners. Nowadays, we believe that it isn’t healthy to eat late, so there is no time slot for an earlier meal. We sort of grab a snack on the run!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Garfield Hug says:

    An informative post indeed

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Megala says:

    Looks absolutely queenly !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Megala; I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful story and had never heard this period of history. Thanks for the share, Dolly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Kamal! I am glad I told you something new!

      Like

  6. Osyth says:

    I remember so well Margaret Thatcher’s foolish statement that what she wanted for the country was ‘a return to Victorian morals’ because, the truth is that the period was rife with scandal and intrigue but like the chair and table legs they insisted on covering with frills and pelmets, the scandals were beneath the surface 😉 In England we generally call this cake ‘Victoria’ rather and ‘Victorian’ sandwich (or sponge) and we would normally make two round cakes and sandwich them with jam, sometimes buttercream or cream and dust the top with icing sugar. Your method looks like it would grace any afternoon tea table and not stand a chance of so much as a crumb being left!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I didn’t know that statement, but why? What did she think was so wrong with morals that she preferred Victorian ones?
      The name Victorian Sandwiches, as well as the method of cutting them into finger-size squares came from that online course I had mentioned earlier. Apparently, according to Annie Gray who covered that segment of the course, the idea was to create finger food, whether sandwiches or sweets, and the sweets that looked like sandwiches were the height of fashion.
      I made a strategical error by failing to hide them from my husband on Friday night. By Saturday afternoon, there were only two left, but he was fair, as always – he offered me one of them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Osyth says:

        We used to call her ‘Thatcher the Milk Snatcher’ because she stopped the little bottles of free milk that young school children used to be given to ensure they had calcium in their diet. Whilst in Oxford it was mostly probably not an issue, for children in the poorest places it was a dreadful thing to do. The present encumbrance PM who models herself on Thatcher has ended free school lunches for the poorest children. They call it progress. She was, as so many of them are, a good orator but she was ignorant of the truth of history and that particular statement always offended me. I am sure Annie Gray is spot on … it makes total sense and I think it is something that should be revived in England …. little pieces are so much easier than cumbersome slices. As your husband is clearly witness to!! 😂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thank you for information; I had no idea about stopping the free lunches program. That’s plain terrible!
        My husband is a witness to any dessert left unattended in plain view! 😻

        Like

      3. Osyth says:

        It really is …. I wonder how anyone can be so callous really 🙁 with the delicious things you make, Dolly I can forgive him for having zero resistance!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. When we started the school, kids would bring lunches from home. Since some of them did not come from kosher homes, we instituted “checkpoint Charlie” on the porch. Pretty soon we discovered that some parents neglected to pack lunches, so kids grabbed whatever was at hand, IF THERE WAS. Others would bring stuff that I wouldn’t give to a stray dog, let alone a cat! At first, my husband would run out and buy food, but that turned out to be less than feasible financially and certainly not dietetic. So we turned to the community and raised funds for breakfast, lunch, and afterschool snacks. Then research started appearing indicating benefits of specific foods (or, conversely, avoiding specific foods) for the types of disorders we were dealing with, and we raised more funds to do that.
        This peace of info just hit a hot button with me; I simply cannot imagine depriving disadvantaged children of food!
        My husband comes from Odessa, and his mother (may she rest in peace) was a great cook. He is used to good food but he has a huge sweet tooth, or maybe all his teeth are sweet, I don’t know. 😻

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Osyth says:

        As you probably gather, it is something that bewilders, incenses and dismays me. What you did, with your school, is band fantastic. Both you and your husband seized the scruff of situations and, your determination, born I think of your own experience in earlier life, reaped terrific and laudable rewards. My own children had free school meals at one point in our lives. To me, if a politician can vote to take away from the poorest children there is no end to the evil that they might be prepared to commit in their quest of whatever greedy goals they have in their deplorable minds. Thank you for being good and thank your sweet-toothed husband too.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Oh, I don’t know about fantastic. When it has to do with children, especially children with special needs, one does what needs to be done, that’s all. Adults are able to help themselves, unless they are disabled, G-d forbid, but kids can’t! That’s why I was so shocked. Neither one of us had been deprived of anything, incidentally, as both my husband and I came from fairly well-to-do professional families, as much as it was possible to be in that position in communist Russia. Odessa was different, though; it has always been wealthy, and the wealth was more or less fairly distributed.
        I’ll thank my husband with some fresh-baked cookies I made today! 😻

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the recipe (and extra notch on my belt)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, dear Riley! We aim to please! 😻

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Maryana says:

    This is a Royal dessert indeed. Love the style of this post, including the story at the beginning.

    Oh, yes, a dessert without the chocolate isn’t a dessert)))) You are right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, dear Maryana! Chocolate rules!

      Like

  9. [ Smiles ] Spiced rum makes this recipe interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Renard, rum makes everything interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This recipe sounds perfect: I once had a tea party and invited lots of friends. There were small tables set up and several types of tea from which to choose. Why you;dn’t I have had this recipe then? Maybe it is a sign to have another tea party!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, dear Ronnie, by all means, have another party! There is always a reason for a party, and this is as good a reason as any!

      Like

    1. Thank you for reblogging.

      Like

  11. jonahzsong says:

    Fascinating story. Loved it as always.

    I remember tea at my grandmother’s home in Wales–what a delicious spread that was! They did it at four o’clock, perhaps to be just a bit different than the English. It was such a great family time. Sadly my cousins no longer are able to follow this rich tradition. Partly work and partly changing eating patterns, as you point out.

    Happy Chanukah!
    L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, dear friend! “Five-o-clock” was not always the exact time for tea; in fact, it was a more common time for upper classes as they had dinner really late. People who had to work for a living started their day earlier, thus the tea time was also earlier, as well as the dinner.
      Happy Holidays to you and yours, with many blessings!

      Like

  12. Really informative post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Sheenam; I am glad you like it!

      Like

  13. I love your combination of a story of long time ago and a fine recipe. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much; I really appreciate your comment!

      Like

  14. Joëlle says:

    Loved the story, so full of revelations about Victorian times!
    If I ever make this cake, I will fill it with chocolate something, not blueberry jam. You won’t mind, will you?
    Thank you for all your stories. Are they part of your recipe book?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Joelle!
      I do make a sponge cake filled with chocolate, with chocolate frosting, but I wanted to be as close to the original Victorian style, as possible. Couldn’t stay away from chocolate altogether, though, so I figured, they did have chocolate already, and much earlier than 19th century, so why not? And why should I ever min d – the more chocolate, the better! 😻
      Yes, recipes in the book are just like they are here, intertwined with stories; not as many images, though, since it’s a different medium. At least, that’s what my artist friend advised.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Gary says:

    Very interesting my friend. Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I was quite taken by the comment conversation between you and Osyth. It always makes me physically ILL when political Midas-mongers in *any* country and at any time attempt to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor and disenfranchised – ESPECIALLY the children!!!!

    As for the Victorian Sandwiches – I’ve never been a huge fan of jam-filled cakes and chocolates – but with buttercream in the center, your husband wouldn’t stand a CHANCE!
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, I am sure you are on the same page as Osyth and I, feeling outraged.

      Like

  17. Interesting and sad history of life and death lady Flora and very delicious cake, great with cup of coffee 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much; I am so glad you like it! 😻

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Food and history, an undying love affair. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With me, undoubtedly! Thank you, darling! 😻

      Like

  19. thinkinkadia says:

    Congratulations on your book and paperback too! I realized I was out of touch because I wasnt following your blog. So here I am! Probably get some kitchen inspirations here.
    Loved your story and the sweet sandwich.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear! Glad to see you here, and thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Interesting😁 and thanks for sharing this yummy recipe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear; I am so glad you like it!

      Like

      1. You are welcome😁

        Liked by 1 person

  21. oldpoet56 says:

    As always, a great history lesson with a great desert. I am going to reblog this one for you Dolly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Ted!

      Like

  22. askagimp says:

    This was fascinating and looks delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear; I am so glad you like it!

      Like

  23. askagimp says:

    I also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a blogger recognition award. https://askagimp.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/its-an-honor-to-be-nominated/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is such a nice surprise! I am honored – thank you very much!

      Like

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