Victorian Tea Time Recipes
Sandwich and Cheese Straws

Victorian tea time was a very proper time, with delicate doilies and bone china teacups. Here, I dig out two of my favorites: the Victoria sponge and Cheese straws.

Victorian tea time was a very proper time, with delicate doilies and bone china teacups. Children should be seen and not heard and everyone was terribly polite. Sounds terribly dull doesn’t it?

However, they ate some wonderful delicacies which are worth digging out and cooking – just remember to serve them with the maximum of noise and laughter.

  • Classic Victoria Sandwich - What better way to finish than with the classic Victoria sponge, named after Queen Victoria herself? Oozing with cream and jam – this is a winner in my family and despite being rather large, there is never a crumb left by dinner time.

  • Victorian Cheese Straws - My kids love making Cheese Straws, which were served with tiny petit fours and other delicacies. They are tasty and crumbly and just delicious!

Victorian Tea Time Recipes #1:
Classic Victoria Sandwich

Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), one of Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting, is credited as the creator of tea time.

Because the noon meal had become skimpier, the Duchess suffered from "a sinking feeling" at about four o'clock in the afternoon. At first the Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and a few breadstuffs into her dressing room.

Later, she invited friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o'clock in her rooms. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea.

The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was quickly picked up by other social hostesses. Queen Victoria adopted the new craze for afternoon tea time.

By 1855, the Queen and her ladies were in formal dress for the Victorian tea time parties. This simple cake was one of the queen's favorites.

Prep time: 20 mins


victorian tea time

Baking time: 20-25 mins

Equipment needed: Mixing bowl, wooden spoon, scales, sieve, 2 x 7 inch cake tin (greased and floured)


4 large eggs

225 g caster sugar

225 g self-raising flour

225 g butter (room temp)

I teaspoon vanilla extract

Alternatively, I often use vanilla sugar for the sugar part and leave this out.

Easy to make – remove all the seeds from a vanilla pod, then chop up the pod into 2cm chunks.

Add to a kilo of caster sugar in a glass air-tight container, mix up and leave for a week or so – the flavor is amazing – use without the chunks!

How to make it

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

Step 2: Cream together the caster sugar and butter until fluffy.

Step 3: Add the eggs one at a time, mixing them in very carefully and beating well.

Step 4: Add vanilla extract, is using, and then fold in the well-sifted flour.

Step 5: Split the mixture into the tins.

Step 6: Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Step 7: Remove from the oven and turn onto a wire rack. Cool.

Step 8: Fill with top quality strawberry or raspberry jam and thick double cream, dust generously with icing sugar and serve for a classic Victorian tea treat.

Victorian Tea Time Recipes #2:
Cheese Straws (makes about 65)

victorian tea time

These are great fun to make with kids as they can make their own shapes with cookie cutters.

Prep time: 30 mins

Baking time: 30 mins

Equipment needed: Mixing bowl, wooden spoon, scales, rolling pin, wooden board, cookie cutters or sharp knife, baking tray, wire cooling rack


8 oz strong Cheddar cheese – grated

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

115 g butter

225 g plain flour

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to you own taste)

How to make it

Step 1: Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees.

Step2: Mix the cheese and butter together in a large mixing bowl.

Step 3: Add the rest of the ingredients and mix into a dough with your hands.

Step 4: When it is firm and not sticky (add extra flour if necessary) roll out on a floured board and cut into strips – 1cm by 5cm long. Or use a cookie cutter of your choice to make fun shapes.

Step 5: Place on a non-stick baking tray (or use a greaseproof sheet) – but do not grease.

Step 6: Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

If by some miracle there are some left at the end of the day – store them in an airtight container.

Great served as an accompaniment to crudités and houmous (though this is not strictly Victorian!)

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What's Cooking America. History of Victoria Sandwich, Victorian Sponge Cake.

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