Back to basics … a simple cake

With all the food and sweets around this holiday season, I though I’d make a basic cake that would balance all the heavy dinners and sugary desserts. So, I decided to make my go-to cake. It is my nephew Ethan’s favorite. It’s because the frosting is replaced with whipped cream, the sponge cake itself is light and airy, and I pile on the fresh fruit (Ethan loves fruit).

Sponge cake with fruit and whipped cream

The sponge cake recipe (courtesy of Joy of Baking) is as follows:

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated white sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup (100 g) sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an ungreased two-piece 10 inch tube pan.

2. Separate the eggs and make sure they are at room temperature. Set aside.

3. Sift and measure the cake flour and then whisk the flour with 1/4 cup (50 g) of granulated white sugar. Measure another 1/4 cup (50 g) of granulated white sugar and set aside for beating with the egg whites.

4. Place the final 1/2 cup (100 g) of granulated sugar in the mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the egg yolks and beat on high speed for about five minutes, or until they are thick, fluffy and light colored (when you slowly raise the beaters, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon). At this point, beat in the vanilla extract, water, and lemon zest.

5. Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the batter, but do not fold in (you will fold the flour mixture into the batter along with the beaten egg whites later).

6. In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form.

7. Gradually add the 1/4 cup (50 g) of granulated white sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are shiny and stiff peaks form. Be sure not to over beat.

8. Gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then add the rest of the whites, folding just until incorporated. Do not over mix or you will deflate the batter. Pour the batter into the tube pan, evenly spreading the cake batter with your spatula.

9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately invert. Cool for at least one hour before unmolding. Run a spatula or sharp knife around the inside of the pan and then remove the center core of the pan. Then run the spatula or knife along the bottom and center core of the pan. Invert the cake onto a greased wire rack.

The whipped cream recipe (one that I just made up over the years) is as follows:

  • 4 cups (960 mL) heaving whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4-5 tablespoons (45-60 g) powdered sugar

1. In a large mixing bowl, place the cold whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar – mix at high speed to combine. Be sure not to over whip.

Since the cake is from a tube pan, I also mix ripe bananas with some whipped cream to fill the center of the cake. As Ethan would request, “Please make sure it’s a fruit cake!”

Sponge cake with blueberries strawberries and mandarin oranges


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