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|EVERY FEW MINUTES|
|A SIMPLE SPONGECAKE - COOKING SCHOOL|
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tbsp.
2 cups sifted cake flour
pinch of salt
few drops of vanilla
This recipe calls for no baking powder or baking soda; it is leavened by the eggs alone.
Cooks Tips: When beating egg whites, it is important to use a scrupulously clean bowl; the smallest amount of grease or egg yolk in the bowl with the whites will cause the whites to beat to a lesser volume.
The bowl may be wiped with a few drops of vinegar; a pinch of salt and a pinch of cream of tartar (or Bakewell Cream) will help the eggs to achieve a greater volume. Beating in a copper bowl also helps but is not required. Remove eggs from the refrigerator 20 minutes before beating.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a bowl, beat the yolks, gradually adding sugar and a few drops of vanilla (about 1/4 teaspoon) until the yolks form a ribbon when the beaters are lifted from the bowl.
In a second bowl, beat the whites with a pinch of salt or cream of tartar until stiff peaks have formed (when the beaters are lifted from the bowl). The beaten eggs should appear glossy; if they begin to separate and divide or look dull, then they have been over-beaten.
Stir in the sifted flour, gradually. Carefully fold the whites into the batter, cutting down through the mixture with the spatula, turning the bowl a quarter of a turn and repeating the gentle cutting motion with the side of the spatula down through the batter and up along the sides, scraping the bottom of the bowl. This is done so as not to deflate the froth in the egg whites (these help the cake to rise higher).
Butter a 9 inch round or square cake pan or a loaf pan generously. (A springform pan makes for easier removal after the cake is baked.) Sprinkle in a teaspoon of flour and tap it around from side to side until all of the inside of the pan is coated with flour. Turn the pan upside-down and tap out any excess.
Turn cake batter into prepared pan and level it with the back of a spoon or a spatula, making sure the corners are filled; smooth the top of the cake leaving the cake slightly lower in the center than on the edges (the cake will rise more in the center, so this helps compensate).
Bake at 350°F in the center rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. It's important not to open the oven before the cake has been in the oven for at least 3/4 of the baking time.
When cake is done, remove from oven and allow pan to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a butter knife along the outer edges of the cake to free it from the pan, then tap it out of the pan onto a cake rack to cool for one hour.
Slice the cake horizontally into 3 layers using a cake slicer, an electric knife, or a large serrated bread knife. Spread between the cake layers with pastry cream, frosting, coconut and currant jelly or other favorite fruits in syrup. Sprinkle with rum, if desired. Frost the outside.
Alternatively, the cake may be left whole and sliced into serving sized portions, then sprinkled with rum and topped with vanilla ice cream, or strawberries or peaches in their syrup. The basic cake recipe may be varied by adding finely grated lemon or orange peel or flavoring, liqueurs, spices such as mace, etc. Spongecake is absorbent and soaks up flavors of syrups and liqueurs added just before serving. It's a good cake to use in assembled desserts.
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