The Great British Baking Show on PBS has my rapt attention. The British bakers are more about savory, less about sweet, and I’m getting lots of ideas from their expertise. Many of their concoctions began “with a sponge,” and I decided to find a good recipe to share with you here.
I look at cookbook searches the way some people feel about truffle hunts. My local bookstore recently provided me with a sponge kismet moment when I picked up Mastering the Art of Baking by Anneka Manning. Definitely buy this book! It’s fantastic, lots of simple recipes, some historical perspective for where they come from and a great opening section for how to become a better baker. (Amazon link)
Easy Sponge Cake Recipe
Now for the recipe. I’ve never made a sponge cake before and was surprised that it is mostly eggs with only 2/3 cup of flour. Hunh. Of course, there is sugar, but decidedly less than more American cake recipes. I wouldn’t exactly call this healthy, but as far as desserts go, you’ll get a lot of deliciousness and not a lot of guilt. We had six tasters for this recipe, and they all loved it, the cake did not survive the day; it was gone, gone, gone. Poof.
- 2/3 cup self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar, plus extra to dust the cake
- 1/3 cup fancy strawberry jam
Preheat oven to 350°F, set the oven rack to the center. Use two 8″ round cake pans and grease the pans thoroughly (I used unsalted butter), then add parchment paper circles to the bottom of each pan. Add some flour to lightly coat the pan, banging out any excess that doesn’t stick.
In a big bowl, sift the flour and cornstarch twice, set aside. In a second large bowl, use an electric beater and beat the egg yolks and 2 Tbsp of the superfine sugar for about four minutes. The eggs should be pale in color and tripled in size. In a third bowl (yes a lot of bowls!) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. If you’re using the same mixer, make sure your beaters are completely clean and dry or the egg whites won’t stiffen properly.
Then, using a hand whisk, add the remaining sugar and whisk until thick and glossy. Add this to the egg yolk mixture, give a few gentle stirs, then slowly add the flour/cornstarch mixture and again, gently stir until just blended. Divide evenly between the two pans (I weighed them to make sure) and bake for 15 minutes. The cakes should be lightly golden, slightly pulling away from the sides, and a toothpick to the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper right away.
Time for the whipped cream, use your beater again and add 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar to 3/4 cup whipping cream until firm peaks form. Once the cake has completely cooled, spread a generous layer of the strawberry jam on the top of the bottom cake, then add a layer of the whipped cream, then the top cake. Dust with more confectioners sugar and serve. Serves 8.
A Couple of Tips
Of course you can substitute for any type of jam you’d like, how about raspberry or blueberry? Also, elsewhere in the book, Manning shares a great tip about eggs, it’s best to bake with eggs at room temperature BUT it’s easiest to separate eggs when they’re still cook from the fridge. So, take them out, separate them and let them sit for about 30 minutes until they are at room temperature. And yes, I really think you should buy this book!
Let me know how you do, or if you have a favorite easy sponge cake recipe you’d like to share. Cheers!