Thursday, Aug. 23, is National Sponge Cake Day. Kind of crazy that they actually dedicated a day to sponge cake. Coming from a family of great cooks, my great grandma used to make a sponge cake that was amazing. A good comparison would be the Twinkie.
Sponge cakes are so versatile; you can bake them in a jellyroll pan, fill them and roll them up to make a pretty pinwheel. You can just make them in a plain-old cake pan and put some whipped cream on top or my favorite way is to make round cakes and fill in between each layer with cream and fresh fruit!
For those of you that don’t know much about sponge cake, here are some fun facts:
Sponge Cakes are similar to angel food cakes in that they use many eggs and no shortening or leavening. Sponge cakes use the whole eggs, while angel food cakes use only the whites.
1420-1520 - During the Renaissance, Italian cooks became famous for their baking skills and were hired by households in both England and France. The new items that they introduced were called “biscuits,” though they were the forerunner of what we now consider to be sponge cake.
1615 - Gervase Markham (1568-1637), English poet and author, recorded the earliest sponge cake recipe in English in 1615. These sponge cakes were most likely thin, crisp cakes (more like modern cookies).
By the middle of the 18th century, yeast had fallen into disuse as a raising agent for cakes in favor of beaten eggs. Once as much air as possible had been beaten in, the mixture would be poured into molds, often very elaborate creations, but sometimes as simple as two tin hoops, set on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. It is from these cake hoops that our modern cake pans developed.
Here is my favorite recipe for sponge cake – it has a wonderful raspberry cream inside!
For Sponge Cake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, a 17x12 inch (43x30 cm) baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and then butter and flour the paper (or spray with a nonstick vegetable/flour spray).
While the eggs are still cold separate two of the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. To the yolks, add the additional yolk, and the two remaining eggs. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the flour with the cornstarch.
Place the egg yolks and whole eggs, along with 1/2 cup (100 grams) of the sugar, in your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for five minutes, or until thick, pale yellow, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) Then beat in the vanilla extract. Sift half the flour mixture over the beaten egg mixture and fold in gently with a rubber spatula, just until the flour is incorporated. Sift the remaining flour mixture into the batter and fold in.
In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in the remaining one tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then add the rest of the whites. Pour the batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly with an offset spatula or spoon. Bake for about 6-8 minutes or until golden brown and when lightly pressed, springs back. Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven sprinkle with confectioners sugar and then invert the cake onto a clean dish towel. Remove the parchment paper, sprinkle with confectioners sugar, and roll up the sponge, with the towel. Place on a wire rack to cool.
For Raspberry Whipped Cream: Place your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar into the bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Add the jam and beat just until stiff peaks form.
To Assemble: Unroll the sponge, spread with the cream and reroll. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. Just before serving, dust with confectioners sugar.
Serves 6 - 8 people.
What You’ll Need:
4 large eggs
1 large (20 grams) egg yolk
1/3 cup (35 grams) sifted cake flour
3 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
1/2 cup (100 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
Raspberry Whipped Cream:
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons (15-30 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) raspberry jam (or other flavored jam) or 1/2 cup (120 ml) lightly sweetened raspberry sauce or strawberry sauce