It’s been a while since I took up the retro cooking theme and even longer since I attempted a bit of retro baking. If you’ll remember the last challenge I conquered was scone baking and by all accounts these were very successful. With a little bit of time up my sleeve this afternoon and with my bread proving near the heater I though I would tick another off my list in the form of a classic sponge cake. I had been particularly inspired, though also intimidated, by fellow blogger Hazel’s impressive looking sponge complete with delectable passion fruit icing. And so I hunted around for a recipe (amazingly my CWA recipe book did not have a plain old sponge cake recipe. I have book 2, perhaps that was in book 1) and finally decided on one from the beautiful Bourke Street Bakery cookbook that I had borrowed from a friend.
Eggs and sugar were mixed in the mixmaster until triple in volume, then flour was gently folded in half at a time, followed by the melted butter. The mixture was then poured into two prepared cake tins looking all airy and bubbly. I was rapt with how it looked and anticipated light and fluffy cakes rising to the heights Hazel had achieved. After 20 minutes I pulled these out of the oven. Anyone for sponge pancakes? To say I was disappointed is an understatement, I felt flatter than these pathetic looking Frisbees. I had followed the directions precisely, however my oven thermostat is definitely dodgy and the cake tins I used were not of a particularly high quality, actually I think I may have picked up one of them from the $2 Shop in my broke uni student phase. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade.
On top of poor quality instruments (I know… a poor workman blames his tools) I also have genes going against me. My Mum could never master the traditional round sponge, she did however achieve great heights (in every sense of the world) with a large square cake tin. Once this was discovered never a flat sponge did we consume. I was hoping, though that as I had overcome the family trait of not being able to successfully cook with yeast, that I might actually be a prize winning sponge maker, living up to country show cookery standards. As it turns out genes won out, either that or I need a LOT of practice.
Eventually I was able to pick myself up and complete the job at hand. Cream was whipped (using my new stick blender with whisk attachment, very cool) and jam was applied. Then I considered what to do to the top. I think most traditional sponges are just dusted with icing sugar, I thought mine needed something a bit more extravagant to make up for its lack of light fluffiness and general flatness. I would have adored to do passion fruit icing but being a poor planner this weekend, did not have any passion fruit pulp. Finally I decided on a salute to my mother and her flat sponges and do her chocolate icing with coconut on top.
And better still, it tasted pretty good, so while I try to perfect this culinary classic I’m sure the family will enjoy polishing off my attempts.
As to the mystery from my last post readers have so far suggested it might be a happy tomato or a person in the bath. Neither is correct, though second is closer. Any other ideas?