Things to See and Do


In the Swiss Cottage at Osborne the princesses learned how to bake and serve tea to their parents. If you visit today you can go back in time to 1861 and see preparations for tea.

Osborne is where the Battenburg cake, the Victoria Sponge and the Osborne Pudding were invented. Why not try some of these delicious Victorian cake recipes?

Victoria Sponge

Here's a yummy recipe for Victoria Sandwich with jam and cream.

Serves: 8
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Oven preheated: 180°C

For the sponges:

  • 240g unsalted butter softened, plus extra for greasing tins
  • 240g caster sugar, plus extra to dust the cake with
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 240g self raising flour, sifted
  • 3 – 4 tbsp milk

For the filling:

  • 200ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp raspberry jam


Grease and line the bases of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating into the mixture until all incorporated.

Stir in the vanilla extract then fold in the flour gently. Divide the mix between the two tins and level off using a spatula or palette knife.

Bake the cakes in the oven for around 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove cakes from oven and rest in the tins for five minutes. Remove sponges from the tins, remove lining paper and place sponges on a wire rack to cool.

Whisk the double cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form, sandwich the jam and cream between the two cooled sponges, sprinkle with caster sugar and enjoy.

Gingerbread Cake

This recipe is by Avis Crocombe, written in an unpublished manuscript recipe book, c.1870-90. Avis Crocombe was the cook at Audley End House in Essex from the late 1870s to 1884. The book was rediscovered by her many-times-great nephew when he was planning a visit to the house, and later donated by him to English Heritage. It is a truly excellent example of traditional British cookery, and absolutely delicious.

  • 16oz/1lb plain flour

  • 8oz/½ lb butter

  • 8oz/½ lb brown sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1lb black treacle
  • 1-2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in ½ cup of warm milk

Beat the butter until creamy and add the sugar and ginger. Whisk the eggs briefly and throw them in. Continue to mix vigorously. Add the treacle gradually, and then the flour in stages to avoid too much mess.

Mix the raising agent into the milk and add this as well. Mix well (the Victorians would have mixed directly with their hands, rather than a spoon which is much more effective!).

Turn into a tin (a 9” cake tin is fine) and bake at about 160°C (180°C non-fan) until a skewer put into the middle comes out clean – it usually takes around 45 mins-1hour. You may need to wrap the tin in brown paper to stop the sides burning if your cake tin isn’t heavy duty.

You can also do this cake as a tray bake, just cut it into squares which can be decorated. It also works in fairy cake moulds, in which case reduce the oven time to about 20 mins, using the skewer test to ensure that the cakes are done.

See more things to see and do at Osborne. Plan your visit today.

'step into englands story