Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Cocoa Sponge Cake


As you can tell by the photo, my cake didn't quite turn out. Sponge cakes are tricky. Most cakes, muffins, etc, are really quite easy to make and you don't even need to be all that scientific about measuring. That is not the case with sponge cakes.

I'm pretty sure I know what went wrong with my cake. I could not find any organic white (unbleached) soft (pastry) flour so I used soft whole wheat flour. I did not adjust the quantity, and the amount of bran in it displaced a certain amount of the required starch; and thus, my batter was just a tad too thin.

There are other pitfalls with sponge cakes. They don't contain any fat beyond the egg yolks, and are easily overbaked in which case they will be dry. Of course, if they are underbaked, they will also fall in the middle, and be soggy. It helps to have experience in cake-baking and to be able to easily recognize when a cake is baked before you start making sponge cakes.

The good news is my cake is still perfectly usable for my purposes. I made it because I needed a source of cake-crumbs for rumballs. I'll be posting the recipe for rumballs in a day or two. Not-entirely-successful sponge cake can also be used in trifle. Cocoa sponge cake with either custard or chocolate pudding, canned sour cherries, some kirsch and plenty of whipped cream makes a delectable "Black Forest" trifle.

8 servings
1 hour - 20 minutes prep time

Unsuccessful Cocoa Sponge Cake
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon cocoa

1 1/2 cups soft unbleached wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Trace the bottom of a 9" springform pan onto a piece of parchment paper and cut it out. Grease the springform pan with some of the butter. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment paper, and grease it with the remaining butter. Sift the tablespoon of cocoa into the pan and shake it to coat the bottom and sides evenly with the cocoa. Tap out any excess cocoa. Set the prepared pan aside.

Sift the flour with the cocoa and baking powder, and set it aside.

Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls. Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer for 2 or 3 minutes, until very light and lemon coloured. Beat in the water, sugar and vanilla. Beat well for about 5 minutes.

Wash and dry the beaters for the mixer. You must do this.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff.

Fold the flour gently with a spatula into the egg yolk mixture. Then carefully fold in the whites. Do not over-mix. There should be no large lumps of visible egg white, but white streaks are okay. Gently spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Most recipes suggest running a knife through the batter to make sure there are no large bubbles trapped in it, but I think it is better not to mess with it.

Bake the cake at 375°F. for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Loosen the sides of the pan and cool the cake on a rack.

Last year at this time I made Sweet Potatoes with a Spicy Ginger-Garlic Sauce.


An Overly Critical Crabby Bitch said...

Hello from Dayton, Ohio! I just found your blog through Tastespotting and I'm adding it to my Google Reader so I can keep an eye on the delicious things you post. In addition to the yummy organic items, I like your writing style. Nothing to be critical about here! :)

Ferdzy said...

Why thank you... I have to say just from your name, you sound like someone I would have a lot in common with!