Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Perfect Sponge Cake


This week I am starting to plan for birthday cakes; we have five family birthdays before the end of the year and everyone wants basically the same cake – variations on a sponge with cream. Over the years I have tried so many sponge recipes, in search of the perfect one, and I think I now have it. When making a sponge always remember that a good sponge is like an enduring love; it takes time, patience, and hard work to get a worthwhile outcome.

Today I will share with you some tips for a perfect sponge:

*Put your oven rack in the middle and turn your oven on before you do anything. If you leave your sponge waiting for your oven, it will lose all the air you beat in to it.

* Time is of the essence with sponges; always measure your ingredients before you start.

* Even if your pans are non-stick, always line the bottom of your pan with good quality baking paper. Baking paper (like Vanilla) is one of those things you should never scrimp on – buy the best you can afford.

* Are you sure your oven temperature is right? If you use your oven a lot, you will have a feel for whether it cooks hot, cold or true to temperature. If you are unsure, you can buy an oven thermometer for less than $20. Mine showed me my oven was out by 15 degrees – that is a lot when you are a baker!

* Every time I post a recipe I always talk about the importance of using the right flour – this is especially so with making a sponge. Sifting your flour is especially important when making a sponge – you want to incorporate as much air as possible and it starts with perfectly light, sifted flour.

* Eggs must be as fresh as possible. Have you ever cracked an egg and found the white to be a bit runny? Old eggs have runny whites due to the protein in the egg breaking down. A sponge needs that protein to wrap around the bubbles and keep the sponge light, so fresh is best.

* The last tip and the most important, love your sponge. The more love you give it, the more light and tender it will be.

Kia makona, Mawera x
Ingredients
  • 4 large fresh eggs
  • 170g sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla, almond or lemon extract
  • 1 heaped tsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Whipped cream
  • Jam
Method: Set oven at 190C and line two 23cm tins with baking paper.
Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside.
Measure sugar and water into a small pan and set on a low heat. Heating until the syrup is moderately hot, swirl the syrup around the pan rather than stirring it. The sugar will not completely dissolve and that is ok.

While the syrup is heating, separate eggs and beat whites until stiff. Make sure there is no yolk in your whites.

Once the syrup has heated to moderately hot, very slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, constantly beating. Next, add the egg yolks to the mixture one by one, beating after each addition.
Gently fold in with a spoon then divide the mixture between the prepared tins.

Bake in the centre of your oven for 20 minutes. Turn out on to rack and allow to cool.
Spread one cake with jam and beaten cream.

Place other cake on top and dust with icing sugar.

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