Bake Mary Berry’s unique GDST Lemon Victoria Sandwich

The GDST Bake Off was designed to showcase the baking talents of the students in our schools. For the GDST’s 140th anniversary back in 2012, we commissioned a unique Lemon Victoria Sandwich recipe by Mary Berry (below), a GDST alumna, which was printed onto a recipe card and given to all GDST students in the autumn term.

Regional heats: baking a Lemon Victoria Sandwich

Competitors had two hours to bake a lemon Victoria sandwich using the Mary Berry recipe below. Students also needed to wash and tidy up all their utensils and equipment within the two hours. They prepared everything from scratch on the premises (except lemon curd, which was bought or brought pre-prepared).

As in the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake-Off’ there was also a technical challenge. Competitors designed a style sheet illustrating how they would decorate cupcakes for a GDST 140th birthday party, the task to be completed if the students got through to The GDST Bake Off final. On the reverse of the design/style sheet should be a list of the ingredients required to make the cupcakes in the final. Finalists listed, in detail, their requirements for the decoration of the cupcakes, in addition to the production of the cakes.

The winners of the regional heats were expected to use this design in the final!

Regional heats judging criteria

Each judge used the following judging criteria:

  • Presentation / marks out of 5
  • Technique / marks out of 10
  • Taste / marks out of 10
  • Proposed design for final / marks out of 5

In the event of a tie, the marks for taste will be the decider.

Final: baking and decorating cupcakes for a GDST 140th birthday party

In three hours, competitors were tasked with baking and decorating six cupcakes, displaying them in an imaginative way as well as tidying up all their utensils and equipment. To encourage creativity, the cupcakes could be any flavour. A design / style sheet for this task was submitted at the regional heat stage. Competitors were welcome to bake up to 12 cupcakes and then choose the six best to put forward for judging.

Final judging criteria

Each judge used the following judging criteria:

  • Presentation / marks out of 10
  • Technique / marks out of 10
  • Taste / marks out of 10

In the event of a tie, the marks for taste will be the decider.

The final was judged by Mel Giedroyc (presenter of The Great British Bake Off and an alumna of Oxford High School GDST) and Jane Sago (Vice Chairman of the Suffolk East Federation Women’s Institute).


Mary Berry’s Lemon Victoria Sandwich!

We thought the opportunity to share a specially-commissioned cake recipe by Mary Berry – a GDST alumna – with the whole GDST community was too good to miss. The Victoria sponge harks back to our foundation, while the addition of lemon gives it a contemporary twist.


  • 225g (8 oz) butter, softened or baking spread
  • 225g (8 oz) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g (8 oz) self-raising flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Filling and topping

  • About 4 tablespoons lemon curd
  • A little caster sugar

Lightly grease two deep 20 cm (8 inch) loose bottomed sandwich tins and line the bases with a circle of non-stick baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160Fan/Gas 4

Measure the butter or baking spread, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest into a large bowl and beat for about two minutes until just blended, an electric mixer is best for this, but of course you can also beat by hand with a wooden spoon. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level out with the back of a spoon or plastic spatula

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes or until well risen and golden. The tops of the cakes should spring back when pressed lightly with a finger. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for a few moments then run a blunt knife around the edge of the tins to free the sides of the cakes. Turn the cakes out, then peel off the paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack

Choose the cake with the best top, then put the other cake top downwards on to a serving plate. Spread with the lemon curd, put the other cake on top (top upwards) and sprinkle with caster sugar to serve.