The Spongecake Challenge I

 

sponge

Summer is here and strawberries are abound. That got me thinking and my itchy fingers twitching.. what should I make as a nice light cake with strawberries and cream? Aha! why not a sponge cake with strawberries and cream? First to find a good light sponge cake recipe was easy – got one from my Australian host family, Lauren the mother who makes delicious cakes and a real talent in cake decoration too! (By the way, there are tons of light sponge cake recipes on the internet-if you lack a source of inspiration) 

Her recipe calls for:

the Sponge
4 large eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cups of castor sugar
3/4 cups of corn flour (in Australia they use Kreem – which is wheat starch actually)
1 tbp of custard powder
1 tsp of cream of tartar
1/2 tsp of bicarb soda

Heat up oven to 180 degrees Celsius – dust the cake tins 2 x 20cms deep round tins or a regular square cake tin large enough to bake the cake in.

Beat the eggs on high speed  while gradually adding the sugar as you go along, beat for 7-10 minutes until thick and creamy (colour pale yellow).

Sift the dry ingredients 3 times. Sprinke it into the egg mixture while carefully folding the flour mixture in without deflating the air that has been trapped in the egg.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and baked for about 25-30 mins.

Okay – I did all that , yet my sponge sank and was heavy. Tried 4 times, ie 16 eggs and 1 whole box of corn flour later, . not getting anywhere close to the cake Lauren makes or tasted like it! I started looking up on the internet to compare notes.

After comparing notes with Lauren, it turned out, it could have been I did not beat the eggs long enough and the corn flour they used in Australia was in fact wheat starch. Hence I did a bit of experiment on my own.. so I continued with my 5th, 6th attempts – careful with the eggs, using wheat starch instead and gentle folding techniques – still wasn’t quite there yet. The sponge rose better but the texture was stringy! Finally on the 7th and 8th attempt I think I got it!

fruninaThe 7th attempt I used Frumina (wheat starch I found in the stores here in Italy) to replace the corn starch called for in the recipe. I also whipped the egg yolks and whites separately. The egg yolks first, with the sugar until pale yellow and creamy – about 5 mins on high speed. Then the egg whites beat until stiff also on high speed for about another 5 mins. I gently folded the egg whites to the egg yolks – followed by the dry ingredients. Baked it and turn out quite well in fact, the sponge was light, did not sink too much although still a little stringy.  The photo above is the result of the 7th attempt. Using ‘kagecreme’ from Maizena I made the custard and added fresh sliced strawberries as filling and topping to the cake. 

And now for the 8th attempt, I modified the recipe further to the following. by omitting the custard powder:

4 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp of vanilla essence or extract
3/4 cup of castor sugar
1/2 cup of wheat starch
1/4 cup of plain flour 
1 tsp of cream of tartar
1/2 tsp of bicarb soda

Heat up oven to 180 degrees Celsius – dust the cake tins 2 x 20cms deep round tins or a regular square cake tin large enough to bake the cake in, using the corn or wheat starch, shaking off excess flour. You don’t want lumps at the bottom of the sponge.

Beat the eggs on highest speed  while gradually adding the sugar as you go along, beat for 7-10 minutes until thick and creamy (colour pale yellow).

Sift the dry ingredients 3 times. Sprinke it into the egg mixture 1-2 tbp at a time through a sift, while carefully folding the flour mixture in without deflating the air that has been trapped in the egg. I used the electric beater on low speed lifting the beater up and down to trap more air as to ‘fold’ in the dry ingredients.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and baked for about 25-30 mins. Here is the result – as topping I whipped up some fresh cream, made my own strawberry sauce* and mix them together, and spreaded it on top of the cake. Finishing up with some sliced fresh strawberries

sponge2

* strawberry sauce : 100 g of fresh strawberries roughly sliced , add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp of lemon juice – cook them altogether in a saucepan on high heat for the first 3 mins afterwhich lower the heat and simmer for the remaining 10 mins.  Leave to cool.

Am still in pursuit of the perfect sponge, as the 8th attempt cake still sank a little in the middle… but a very much improved verison and the best I have done so far!  I read somewhere there is something called the hotwater sponge – hmm will need to explore that a little further. Stay tuned!

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2 thoughts on “The Spongecake Challenge I

  1. wow, all the attempts are done on the same day?! Alex and I miss you, as well as the cake you make, very much!

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