Recipe: Mom’s Favorite Sponge Cake

November 26, 2006

The CakeTomorrow is my mother’s birthday, so she’s getting her cake today, and I thought I’d share the recipe.
It’s a sponge cake, light and airy, and we try to avoid ruining that with heavy frosting, so my family prefers to use none at all. If you want to go with my way, add some seedless jam (apricot is my personal favorite) and a little powdered sugar to your list of ingredients. If you do want frosting, I suggest you search for a nice caramel frosting.

Please read through the equipment and ingredient list carefully before you get ready to bake! You need 4 eggs, so make sure you have that many, and fresh lemon juice is a key component. Also, I would NOT suggest this as something to bake with kids (unless they’re a bit older, and you think they could handle it) because it requires slow, careful mixing and there isn’t much fun stuff to do. I also strongly suggest using organic ingredients whenever possible, because they just taste better.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup of white organic flour

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

4 fresh free-range eggs

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tablespoons of fresh cold water

1 cup of organic cane sugar

 

Equipment:

2 round cake pans

Waxed paper

Scissors

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Sifter

3 mixing bowls

Electric mixer

Rubber spatula

Cake tester (or fork or something like that)

Oven mitts

Cake racks

Narrow flat spatula

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cut 2 circles out of waxed paper to line the bottom of the cake pans. This is a good task to get someone else to do while you start baking—try to convince them that it takes extreme talent and skill and that they’ll forever bask in the glory of being a champion wax paper cutter. (I really hate trying to cut those circles.)
  2. Coat the pans with butter or spray them with cooking spray BEFORE putting the wax paper in the bottom. Make sure to get the sides well, as the cake tends to stick. If you’re trying to keep the kitchen cleaner, I suggest butter, because the cooking spray gets everywhere.
  3. In your smallest bowl (because you don’t need to use a mixer on this bowl) shift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sometimes you can get away with just whisking flour, but it really needs to be sifted here because you’re going to be gently folding it into the batter later, so it needs to be as fine as possible.
  4. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. The whites will need to be beaten w/ an electric mixer, and will take up more volume when that happens, so keep it in mind. The egg yolks are what everything else will eventually be added to, so make sure its in a big bowl.
    Note: to separate egg yolks and white, break the eggshells so that they are cracked in half as cleanly as possible (you’ll probably want to crack them on the edge of a teacup or something instead of smashing them on the table, which is my usual method). Crack them over the bowl you want the egg whites in, and pour the yolk back and forth between the halves of the shell (pay attention to whether the yolk is about to break) and the whites should run out over the sides of the shell.
  5. Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice, water, and vanilla. Slowly beat in ¾ of the sugar.
  6. Clean and dry the beaters of the electric mixer, and beat the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks. Gradually beat in the last ¼ cup of sugar. Beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
  7. Pour the egg whites over the egg yolk mix, and use the rubber spatula to gently fold them together.
  8. Bit by bit, sprinkle the flour over the egg mixture. (I generally use my ¼ measuring cup to scoop the flour in). For each addition of flour, fold the mixture together, SLOWLY so that no dry flour shows. Make sure you fold carefully, because this is how you get the air into the sponge cake.
  9. Spoon the batter into the cake pans, trying to divide it evenly between the two. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake shrinks a bit from the edges of the pan and the cake tester comes out clean when you poke it into the center.
  10. Remove pans from the oven and place upside down on cake racks to cool. Let them cool for a few minutes. Hopefully they’ll come out cleanly, but they do tend to stick so you might have to help them out with a spatula. Don’t forget to peel the wax paper off the bottom of each layer!
  11. Now, instead of using frosting, this is what we do: Keep one layer upside down, and put jam/jelly on the part of it that is facing upwards. Then put the other layer right side up on top of it. (The bottoms of the two layers should be stuck together—they are flatter there so easier to stick.) Then you can sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, or just leave it. The cake is sweet by itself, and I suggest eating it with tea.
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