In America, cake is synonymous with celebration. As such, it is vital that any sweetsmith has a good sponge cake at his disposal. A light and airy sponge cake is also among the most versatile items you can have in your repertoire. I use them as traditional cake layers, as a base for a mousse assembly, or as a decorative wrapper for other desserts. They can be soaked with flavored syrup to impart flavor or crumbled between meringues and their bases to help hold them in place firmly and soak up any weeping. Sponge cakes range from tediously involved to immensely simple. Today we will focus on the latter.
Simple Sponge Cake:
4 large eggs
100 grams sugar
100 grams flour
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachement. Whip on the highest speed until very fluffy and thick - about 6 or 7 minutes - and add liquid flavoring as desired. I like using flavors like honey, molasses, vanilla, coffee extract, or liquors. Drizzle flavoring slowly down the side of the bowl and allow it to incorporate fully into the batter. If you use oil, use very little amounts because it will affect the baking significantly.
Separately, sift the flour. Dry flavorings should just be sifted with the flour before adding. Reduce speed to the lowest setting and add flour. Allow to mix for about 20 seconds, then turn off the machine and unhook the whisk. Holding the whisk, quickly scrape the sides of the bowl and mix into the center to ensure the flour is combined without deflating the mixture. Pour into a prepared tube pan and bake at 375F until it springs back when pressed and the cake pulls away from the pan. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly in the pan - about 5 minutes - before turning the pan over so the cake falls out. Cool and serve, or wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for later use.
|Raspberry Jelly Roll|
This sponge also works very well as a traditional jelly roll cake. Rather than baking in a tube pan, prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread the batter evenly before baking. Gently rap the the pan on the counter prior to baking to help settle the larger air pockets. Baker at 400F until the cake is darkened and springy. It is important to ensure the cake is baked fully at its center without burning the edges. You may have to rotate the pan halfway. Baking this cake typically takes less than ten minutes, so be sure to watch it carefully. Remove from the oven and let the cake rest for about a minute on the sheet pan. Then carefully grab a corner of the parchment and remove slide the cake from the pan onto the counter, simultaneously pulling the cake toward the counter and pulling the pan away into the air to keep the cake from flexing too much. Let the cake cool completely on the counter then remove the parchment and use. This works well as thin layers for a cake when cut or simply spread your filling over the top of the cake then roll it on itself. Chill and serve.
This cake couldn't be easier, and works great in a pinch. The recipe scales up and down very easily and practice makes perfect. Play with flavors, be bold, and enjoy!