Saturday, November 20, 2010


I don't find a simple spongecake all that interesting, but I'm not really a cake person. Mainly, these fine-grained cakes are a blank slate on which to build other desserts. They are ideal for petit-fours, jelly rolls, and desserts requiring cut-up or leftover cake bits.

One cool part about this cake is that it is leavened entirely by eggs. I highly recommend a stand mixer, but electric beaters will work just as well. You will have to hold the electric beaters a long time. Still much easier than trying to do it by hand. This recipe is from the Williamsburg Cookbook, and I can't imagine trying to make this in a time before even hand-crank egg beaters.

I prepare cake pans differently than this recipe suggests. Gently grease the pan with butter or shortening, then cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom and a tiny bit up the sides. When you press it in, it will stick to the shortening. Grease it again, and flour if necessary. When you turn out the cake, the waxed paper comes with it, and you gently peel it off. Just make sure the cake is still a little warm when you turn it out, or the wax will harden and the trick won't help you at all.

3 eggs, separated
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of cream of tartar
2/3 C cake flour, measured after sifting
4 Tb butter, melted and cooled slightly

1. Grease well and lightly flour the bottom and sides of a 9" round cake pan or jelly-roll pan. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Beat the egg yolks for 1 minute, then gradually add the sugar and beat for 4 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

3. Beat the egg whites until foamy, add the pinch of cream of tartar, and beat on high speed until they form very stiff peaks.

4. Lightly and delicately fold the whites and flour into the yolk mixture, alternating and adding in 3 parts. Add the butter, folding just enough to mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Do not tap out bubbles; that will deflate the egg whites.

5. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes if using the round, 12-15 for a jelly roll. Cake is done when it is light brown and springs back to the touch. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack. When cool, frost or use in recipes.

Makes one 9" layer

Difficulty rating :)

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