My Father-in-law turned 60 last week and had a party on the weekend. I asked him if he would like a birthday cake and he said he wanted a ‘layered sponge filled with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, covered with some chocolate with strawberries’ or something like that.
Sure! No problem. Then I realised I’d never made a sponge before and had a little freak out. Then I figured that beginners luck would shine down upon me and it would all turn out great! I used the excuse of making the sponge to finally get around to getting 2 x 8″ plain old cake tins. Would you believe I didn’t have any? I had a 9″ springform, and a plain old 6″, but no 8″ tins…weird!
Anyway, as luck would have it, the Sponge Cake gods were in a good mood and the cakes did turn out fantastically. The recipe is adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s recipe for ‘Jackie’s Mum’s Sponge Cake’. Here’s the recipe:
Featherlight Sponge Cake
makes 2 x 8″ cakes
4 teaspoons custard powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup caster sugar
600ml thickened cream
2 punnets strawberries
100g dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F). Grease and flour 2 x 8″ cake tins. Sift the cornflour, custard powder, cream of tartar and bi-carb soda together. To ensure a lovely light result, stir this mix to make sure it’s all evenly combined, then sift twice more.
Beat egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and keep beating until a meringue is formed. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Gently fold through the dry ingredients with a metal spoon or spatula.
Divide the mixture among the tins and place in the oven so that the top of the tin is in the centre of the oven. If your tins don’t fit on the same shelf, then make sure you swap them halfway. If they do fit on one shelf, then make sure the tins aren’t touching each other.
Bake for about 20 minutes until cake feels light and springy when gently pushed in the centre. One of my cakes took 20 mins, the other took 25 (not sure why). The cake will shrink away from the edges of the tin when it is ready.
Place a tea towel on top of a baking rack. Take the cakes from the oven and turn out onto your hand covered with another clean tea towel and then place right way up on the baking rack. Allow to cool. If you’re in a hurry they can be cooled outside or in the fridge (I have not tried the fridge, but I did put mine outside to cool quickly).
Pick out the 12 prettiest strawberries. Make sure your toddler doesn’t eat them.
Whip the cream until fairly stiff. Sweeten it with some icing sugar if that’s how you like it. Spread some of the cream onto the top of one cake. If one of your cakes is taller than the other, use the tall one on the bottom. Slice enough strawberries to layer over the cream. Take the other cake and place on top. Then cover the top with a layer of cream, spreading it to the edges. Pipe 12 swirls of cream around the edge of the cake. Top each one with a pretty strawberry.
To make the chocolate flakes, use a vegetable peeler to peel the side of the chocolate block over a large plate. Use a spoon to sprinkle the flakes into the middle of the top of the cake.
This is best made of the day of eating.
Happy Birthday Dad!