Showing posts with label sponge cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sponge cake. Show all posts

Monday, May 9, 2016


For Mother's Day, I fully intended to bake my mother's favorite strawberry cream torte. Except for one thing—I forgot to buy cornstarch. The German spongecake recipe she has used for years contains cornstarch. Sigh.

So I turned to BAKING ILLUSTRATED by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine to see how they make a spongecake. Interestingly, they use part cake flour and part regular flour. Now I could be very wrong about this, but I bet the cornstarch in the German recipe somehow acts like the cake flour does in the American recipe.

Guess what. I have a new favorite spongecake recipe! I admit having my doubts about it because it contains a little bit of butter. Hmm. But it came out great. And I didn't even use cake flour. I hear everyone gasping. It's true, I dared to use ordinary flour, and it still turned out great! Note that I used 3/4 cup flour but the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup plain flour and 1/4 cup cake flour.

Lucy Burdette and my mother have never met. But they like the same kind of cake. Not too sweet and forget the sugary buttercream. Bring on the real cream. So if you're a sugar lover, then pass on this cake.

Although I have made this type of cake many times, I learned something from this one. The strawberries at the store were huge. This cake really works best with lots of small strawberries. Because they were so large, the cake didn't have enough fruit in it (for my taste).

I made the cream with gelatin. Can you use whipped cream without the gelatin? Yes. But the gelatin stabilizes it and keeps the cream from collapsing and getting watery. If you know that the cake will be eaten the same day, I'm not sure I'd bother with the gelatin. Your choice.


3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 large eggs at room temperature
6 tablespoons + 6 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 8 or 9-inch baking pans. Cut parchment paper for the bottoms and insert.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a small pot, heat the butter and milk over low heat until the butter melts. Add the vanilla and cover. Set aside to cool. (Note: I assume the cover was to prevent the formation of a skin. If a skin forms anyway, as it did for me, discard it.)

Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls. 3 egg whites go in bowl one. The 3 egg yolks go in bowl two. Add the remaining 2 WHOLE eggs to bowl two.

Beat the egg whites on a low speed until foamy. Then increase to medium speed. (NOTE: I used #4 setting on my KitchenAid stand mixer.) Beat to soft, moist peaks. Add 6 tablespoons sugar and beat. Do not overbeat! They should still be a little bit soft.

Add six tablespoons sugar to bowl two. Beat on medium-high until thick and lemon-colored, approximately five minutes. Pour over the contents of bowl one.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over top. Gently fold everything together with about 12 strokes. Make a little pocket on the side of the batter and pour in the butter. Continue to fold until the flour cannot be seen and everything is incorporated, approximately another 8 strokes.

Bake 16-20 minutes. When touched, it should be firm but spring back.

Remove from oven, place on kitchen towels, and immediately loosen by running a knife around the edges. Place a plate over top, and grip with the towels to flip. Peel off the parchment paper. Flip from plate onto cooling rack. Cool before frosting.


I will be the first to admit that this can be a little tricky. The resulting cream will not be as smooth as plain cream is. Take your time. It doesn't take long, but you can't hurry the gelatin.

2 cups heavy cream for whipping
2 packets (2 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons to 1/2 cup powdered sugar (to taste)

Optional for decorating:
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a small pot, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Allow to bloom for 10 minutes. Melt the gelatin over low heat until completely liquified. Beat the cream. When it begins to take shape, add the vanilla and the sugar. When it will hold a peak, pour in the gelatin while beating. (If the gelatin has started to solidify, reheat to liquid.)

If using cream to decorate, beat the cream and add the sugar.


1 large carton small strawberries. Set aside 3-4 pretty ones for the top.

Place the bottom layer on a serving plate. Top with cream and spread. Hull and half the strawberries and arrange on the cream. Place the top layer over the strawberries. Spread cream over top and sides.

Ideally,  you will have enough strawberries to half them and place them around the base, point up. If not, them pipe cream at the base and on the top. Add halved strawberries to the top.

Beat bowl 2 until thick.
Pour bowl 2 over bowl 1.

Add flour and fold.

Add butter and fold.

Don't over-bake!

Peel off parchment paper.

Friday, March 27, 2015

This Old House, er, Cake

by Sheila Connolly

I so hoped that by now it would be time to write about recipes using a few fruits and vegetables from our local markets. Silly me! Boston added another two inches to their all-time snow record just this past weekend, and we may not be done yet. I still can’t see my lawn.

Ah, March in New England!

In the Orchard Mysteries I borrowed a real house, built by one of my ancestors, Stephen Warner, around 1760. Descendants of the builder were living there in the 1880s, and the woman of the house, Olive Barton Warner (my third cousin five times removed), left a day-to-day diary. She went on for quite a few years, although I’ve seen only the first two years (1880 and 1881). The diaries provide a lovely glimpse into farm life at the time. I turned to her entry for March 27, 1880—but there was no report on food (it was a Saturday and the family entertained neighbors in the afternoon). But the day before, on Friday, March 26th, Olive wrote:

I made two large, one small loaf of raised cake, and an apple dumpling for dinner. Eugene peared [sic] the apples the girls helped me make cake. It is pleasant not as weindy as two previous days.

This tells us that the family still had apples left over from the fall harvest, which would have ended in November. Olive didn’t record any recipes, although she did report what the family of four ate for dinner quite often. She was also a prolific baker, often making as many as six pies before breakfast.

I looked for an apple dumpling recipe, and found an 1881 version, from a Connecticut newspaper:

APPLE DUMPLING (1881) ‑ Make crust as follows: Prepare and boil, as for eating, four medium‑sized potatoes. When tender mash fine and to two cupfuls of potatoes add the same quantity of sifted flour. Mix together with a chopping knife so as to keep light. Now add a cupful of butter and chop in with knife. Add salt and mix to a paste with very cold water, doing all with the knife. Have apples chopped. Divide the paste, roll into squares, put in the center of each some of the chopped apples, bring the corners together and pinch the edges. Have ready some small square cloths dipped in water and floured on the inside. Put a dumpling into each, leaving room to swell, tie up and boil an hour; serve at once.

Oh, dear. I doubt that many of you, our faithful readers, are going to boil cloth-wrapped dumplings. I certainly don’t plan to.

So I looked for a cake. I did find, as the snows here fell…and fell…and fell…that I was doing a lot of baking, so I can sympathize with Olive. This is a kind of all-purpose cake, also dating from 1881, that Olive and her daughters might have made regularly.

CHEAP SPONGE CAKE  ‑ Three eggs, two tablespoonfuls of water and a teacupful of sugar mixed together; a teacupful and a half of flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, and a pinch of salt stirred thickly in; season with a teaspoonful of essence of vanilla, or half a lemon; bake in a quick oven. it can be baked in jelly‑cake pans, and have pastry cooks' cream, lemon, icing, or chocolate between.

This is the full recipe as published (same newspaper), and you might notice a few things are missing—like how large a pan to use and whether to grease it, and how long to bake it.  I guess in 1881 most cooks were expected to know these details. So I’m going to wing it! (If you want a typical frosted cake, either split the cake from one recipe in half, or double it for two thicker layers.)

After a trial run, here’s what I recommend: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a 9” square pan, and you may want to line it with parchment paper or foil (remember, there is no butter in this recipe, so it’s fairly dry). Bake for 25-30 minutes, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t dry out.


3 eggs
2 Tblsp water
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven (a “quick oven”?).  Generously grease or line a pan.

Mix the eggs, water and sugar together. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the liquid and dry ingredients and mix in the vanilla. (All this can easily be done by hand—no electric mixer required!)

Bake. For how long? Depends on the size of your pan. For general purposes, let’s assume you bake it until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the top is golden. Test with a toothpick to make sure the interior is cooked through.

Look! It worked!
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan onto a rack and continue cooling.

Serve with your favorite topping (icing, cream, fruit—go wild!). Since I happened to have a some dried apple slices (from my own trees!) I decided to honor Olive in spirit and made a quick topping (soak the apples briefly in boiling water, drain, saute with a little butter, some sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla), but you can use whatever you like.

The reconstituted apples
My verdict? It’s a very simple cake to make, and it has a pleasant flavor and texture. You can dress it up however you like. I can picture Olive and her daughters in the kitchen, whipping up a couple of these (in case the neighbors drop by!).

Olive's house (but that's not Olive in front)

Privy to the Dead (Museum Mystery #6), coming in June 2015. 

Yes, "privy" means what you think it does. And more.

Available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Us! Strawberry & Blueberry Sponge Cake

by Peg Cochran

Celebrate!  Celebrate! Dance to the music...oops, you've caught me dancing, I'm so excited about our anniversary celebration.  We are having two contests (more below) and lots of lucky winners!

I am celebrating with strawberry & blueberry sponge cake.  This recipe comes from Teta Ann, my late husband's aunt.  (Teta means aunt.)  She was an amazing baker (and cook).  She could take a lump of strudel dough and stretch it until it covered her entire dining room table!

We always called this "strawberry shortcake" but in reality, it's a sponge cake and very easy to make.  You can top it with any kind of fruit you like.  The cake itself is very light and airy.

It's easy to remember, too!  8 eggs, 8 tablespoons flour, 8 tablespoons sugar!

My sister-in-law and I are the third generation to use this recipe, and I'll be passing it along to my daughters, too!  I hope you enjoy it as well.

Teta’s Sponge Cake

8 eggs, separated
8 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until thick and lemon colored.  Beat egg whites until stiff.

Stir baking powder into flour and add mixture to egg yolk mixture one tablespoon at a time. 

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Bake in a greased and floured 8 x 12 inch pan (I used a 9 x 13 and it worked fine) for 20 to 30 minutes at 325 degrees. (My oven runs hot so I check it early.)  I also just sprayed the pan with cooking spray which wasn't around when this recipe was created.

Let cake sit 5 to 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack covered with a brown paper bag (or brown paper!).  The brown paper will absorb some of the grease from the eggs in the cake.

Beat one pint of whipping cream with powdered sugar (as desired for level of sweetness)

Cover cake with whipped cream.  Dip strawberries or other fruit in sugar and arrange on cake.  (Or, you can cheat like I did, and put the berries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar.)  

Separate yolks and whites

Beat egg whites until stiff

Beat yolks and sugar until lemon colored

Fold egg whites into yolks

Ready to go into the oven

Nicely browned on top

Invert onto rack covered with brown paper

Prepare your choice of fruit

Cover cake with prepared whipped cream

Ready to decorate

Happy 5th anniversary Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!

We want to share our excitement and celebrate with you with some fabulous prizes.  To enter our daily book giveaway for today, just leave a comment below telling us with whom you shared information about our contest—your sister, friend, neighbor, book club—it’s up to you!  I am giving away TWO books--an e-book from my Lucille Series--CONFESSION IS MURDER and a copy of the third book in my Gourmet De-Lite series, ICED TO DEATH.  Remember to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!

And now for the BIG contest news:  we are also giving away a darling mystery-themed tote bag STUFFED with seven of our books!  To be entered in that contest, send us a picture of one of the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen bloggers’ books with:

a)      A cat

b)      A dog

c)       At the library

d)      At the bookstore

e)      Having summer fun

Five lucky people will win the tote and all the great summer reads.  To enter the photo contest go HERE for directions and the entry form.


For more about my books, visit my web site or Facebook page.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Orange Almond Sponge Cake with Orange Glaze @LucyBurdette #recipe

LUCY BURDETTE: You've probably heard me mention a hundred times my favorite bakery in Guilford CT called Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Everything they make is exquisite, but one of my favorite treats is an orange flavored angel cake with a lemon glaze. 

For your Mother's Day pleasure, I wanted to try to replicate something like that, but including almond flavor and an orange glaze. As you'll see, though there is plenty of sugar in the recipe, there is not one whisker of fat!


6 eggs
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
2 tsp grated orange rind
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract

For the glaze:

3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Grate the rind of a well-washed orange until you get 2 teaspoons, more or less. (I used a Honeybell.) Then squeeze the orange, using a second if needed, to make 1/2 cup. (You will use 1/3 of this for the cake, and the remainder for the glaze.)

In large bowl, place the egg whites with the cream of tartar and beat them with an electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. (You can test this by slowly withdrawing the beaters from the eggs. Soft peaks should stand up with the slightest droop at the top.) Next, gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar, beating until whites are stiff but not dry.

In another large bowl, place separated yolks. Beat them with unwashed beaters until thick. Add remaining sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until the yolks are very thick and ivory colored.

To the beaten yolks, add the grated orange rind and the orange juice and almond flavoring, beating until just blended.

Beat in flour and ground almonds at a very low speed. Add the beaten egg whites to this mixture, and fold them in with a rubber spatula--gently.

Turn the cake batter into ungreased 10" tube pan. Cut through batter several times with a knife to break up any air bubbles and then smooth the top.
Bake at 325F for about fifty minutes. The top will appear golden and the cake should spring back when lightly touched.

Invert on wire rack to cool. Loosen cake from sides of pan with spatula. 
Set on serving plate.

Whisk together the orange juice, powdered sugar, and vanilla until very smooth. Drizzle this over the cooled cake.  My glaze did not sit prettily on the outside of the cake, but it gave the sponge an extra delicious pocket of flavor!

Serve on a pretty plate and watch them swoon!

MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West mystery, is in stores now!

 Follow Lucy on Facebook

And Twitter

And Pinterest.