Monday, August 22, 2011

Today is National Sponge Cake Day

Now Sponge cake is not a cake made out of sponges, but I'm guessing it got its name because of its light airy texture.  Sponge cake has been around for quite a while.  One of the first cakes that did not use yeast was first recorded in 1615.

The trick to baking this cake is the method of preparing the batter.  It is this area that I am thankful for my Kitchenaide mixer!   The eggs are beaten with sugar until filled with air, much in the way you make meringue.  Then the flour is folded in slowly.  Once it has been placed in the oven, if it is removed before it is fully baked, it will fall flat.

Once the cake has cooled, it is very flexible.  This allows it to be rolled for desserts such as a Jelly Roll, Swiss Roll or Buche de Noel.  Sponge cake is also used to make lady fingers, strawberry shortcake, madelines and other desserts.

The Victoria Sponge Cake which contains jam between two sponge cakes, was named after Queen Victoria who enjoyed having a slice with her afternoon tea.

Since the recipe does not use yeast, it is a popular dessert during Passover.  Most Jewish families have a special Sponge Cake recipe that is passed down from generation to generation.  Typical Passover sponge flavorings include almonds, lemon, poppy seeds, apples, and chocolate.

Sponge Cakes are also alot like Angel food cakes, they are prepared nearly the same way, and the difference being the Angel Food Cake doesn't contain the egg yolks. Also neither is typically covered with some type of icing.  They are usually served plain and topped with some type of fruit.

If your area is anything like mine, finding an already prepared sponge cake may prove to be a difficult task.  So here is a recipe by Emeril Lagasse, and if you are from the south you know who he is!  He is a chef from Louisiana and is known for "kicking it up a notch!" 

So today on National Sponge Cake Day, try to kick it up a notch yourself and bake your own sponge cake.

Sponge Cake Recipe

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and 2 teaspoons of the butter together over medium-low heat. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip, beat the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar on medium-high speed in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the warm milk mixture.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small mixing bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly until smooth. Repeat with the other half. Add the vanilla and mix gently.
  • Grease a 17 by 12-inch baking pan or jelly-roll pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour the cake batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 15 minutes.
  • Cool for about 2 minutes, and then gently flip it out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Let cool completely.

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