Monday, 30 April 2007
Victoria sponge traditionally relies on the air beaten into the eggs to rise the batter, rather than a raising agent such as baking powder. Some recipes call for beating the egg yolks with the sugar seperatly from the egg whites, but I followed Michel Roux's recipe for a genoise, which is the french equivalent. This recipe whips the eggs together with the sugar, then folds in the flour and a very small quanity of melted butter. Although it seems from the various recipes I can find that the butter is not traditional, this is the way I remember my father making sponge cakes.
For those without an electric beater this recipe constitutes excercise rather than baking. It took my little hand-held beater 10 mintues to get the eggs and sugar to the right white fluffy consistency. Usually I'm all for hand whisking, particularly with meriange, but this would require some kind of team effort, a kind of pass the whisk relay. Egg yolks, unlike egg whites, are very difficult to get air into, and require a great deal more beating in order for them to double in volume in the way they need too.
Although I often bake, I tend to make cakes with butter in them, and often using nuts instead of flour. The weather being what it is though, it seemed like a good time to make a foray into the world of baking without rising agents.
It can seem like an impossible task when first looking at your ingrediants. Eggs, sugar and flour: is this really going to make a cake? But as long asyou aerate the eggs enough, and take care not to knock the air out when folding in the flour, its all good.
The one last temptation and potential pitfall is opening the oven door. I was dancing around the door, attempting to take sneak peaks through the glass, which was entirely futile as I'd placed them too high up to get a look into the tin. Because these sponges have no raising agent they are a lot more delicate and tempermental than normal cake. Like a souffle, if you shock them with cold air before they are cooked, they will fall.
4 medium eggs
125g caster sugar
125g of sifted flour
30g of melted butter cooled to room temperature but still liquid.
Grease a cake tin well and flour the inside lightly. Heat the oven to 190oc
Beat the eggs with the sugar until light, white and creamy. Thye should at least double in volume.
You may be tempted to give up when they look like this:
But keep going, they aren't ready until they look like this:
Then gently fold the flour into the eggs , being careful not to crush the air out. Lastly fold in the melted butter.
Place in the tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and springs back when pushed, emitting a faint hiss.
I cut my sponge into layers, and spread them with lemon curd, whipped cream and passionfruit pulp.