simple special sponge

I must admit to having mixed results over the years with sponge cake. I blame a very old family legend about a ridiculously high sponge.  Neighbours would come by just to lay eyes on it. Those lucky enough to eat it always said “it’s as light as a feather!".  I never managed to replicate it.

Sponge recipes confuse me. The only common denominator between great sponges seems to be 4 eggs, sugar and cornflour. All other ingredients and methods are up for grabs. Water sponge, butter sponge, sponges with custard powder, cream or milk, ‘true’ sponges, brown sugar sponges ... the list goes on. Miss Schauer  has 27 sponge recipes in her iconic Cookery Book.  The oldest sponge recipes were often made with warm sugar syrup or warmed milk, slowly added down the sides of the bowl while beating. Got a sponge secret to share with us?

I eventually stayed with this easy-to-make light sponge that works a treat.  I suggest filling it with freshly whipped chantilly cream and citrus curd.  Or the classic Chocolate Blanc Mange recipe below for Easter afternoon tea.

Ingredients

For Sponge   - 4 eggs ❤ ¾ cup (165 grams) caster sugar ❤ 2/3 cup (100 grams) wheaten cornflour ❤ ¼ cup (30 grams) custard powder ❤ 1 teaspoon cream of tartar ❤ ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda (baking soda)   Serves 8 

School Holiday crazies : A no-time-to-bake store bought plain unfilled sponge can be jazzed up beautifully using the same fillings and method below. Don't tell them you bought it!

Chantilly Cream Icing - 800ml thickened cream, enough whipped to cover sides, top and middle layer of sponge ❤ 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract ❤ ½ cup of icing sugar, sifted

Method + Top Tips - Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F) and grease a deep 22cm (9inch) round or square cake tin and line with baking paper . 

Beat sugar and eggs in a small bowl for 10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl.

Sift cornflour, custard powder, cream of tartar and bi carb soda onto a sheet of baking paper. Then sift from the paper over the egg mixture. Fold dry ingredients in lightly. Spread evenly into prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes. Turn immediately onto a baking paper covered rack to cool, top-side up.

Top Tips:  Sifting flour mixture onto baking paper makes it easier.  If you use a bowl to sift into, flour mix will just stick to the bottom and become messy. The paper is a quick tidy way to sift the dry mixture and not loose any on the benchtop or sides of the bowl. Always beat eggs and sugar for 8-10 minutes until mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume. Should be like whipped cream, but even lighter. The flour mixture must be folded in gently using a large metal spoon. When baked and cooled, a serrated bread knife or electric knife is best used to split and cut sponge neatly and evenly. Trim edges if necessary to make neat. Sponge is best eaten on the day it’s made. Unfilled sponge freezes for up to one month if necessary.

Your choice of 2 classic fillings - 

 Passionfruit or Lemon Curd  - click my lemon curd posting. For passionfruit curd, just omit the lemon rind and use lemon juice only - plus the fresh pulp/juice of two passionfruit

OR

Chocolate Blanc Mange - 2 cups full cream milk ❤ strip of lemon rind, free from pith  ❤ 2 level tablespoons caster sugar ❤ pinch of salt  ❤ 2 tablespoons cornflour ❤ a little spare milk (for dissolving cornflour) ❤ 2 tablespoons cocoa powder ❤ ¼ cup boiling water ❤ teaspoon of vanilla extract 

Bring milk, lemon rind and sugar to boiling point in a saucepan over moderate heat. Mix cornflour and spare milk in a teacup and stir until lump free.  Dissolve cocoa powder in boiling water and teaspoon of vanilla. Remove saucepan from the heat and add pinch of salt and cornflour mix and stir continually until smooth. Now add cocoa mix too.  Return to the heat and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture simmers gently for 2 minutes. It will set to a spreadable custard consistency off the heat.

Optional: ½ cup Boronia Marsala (for brushing on the cut sponge with a pastry brush) for extra flavour and a little grated dark chocolate for decoration around the top edges if desired 

Method for icing and filling

Slice sponge in half with serrated or electric knife. Brush Marsala on both cut sides with a pastry brush if making Chocolate Blanc Mange version. 

Spread an even layer of cream on one cut side. Spread an even layer of curd or chocolate blanc mange on the other side.

Sandwich the two together. Cover sides and top with prepared chantilly cream

For chocolate sponge: grate chocolate flakes over sponge top

For curd sponge: pipe extra cream around sponge edges and fill centre with curd.