Sunday, June 10, 2012


Here we have another instance of Hewlett failing to test her recipes. Boo! On Tuesday, I decided to make dessert for the yms and came up with spongecake, a recipe that I wouldn't have to go out and buy anything for. Now I have never made or even eaten spongecake, although I do have a vivid memory from  my childhood of a cake with colored flecks in it that I was told was spongecake. Did this really exist?  Beats me, but it had little pink and blue things in it, like a sponge.
I  made the cake, following the directions closely, and found it somewhat flat, although tasty. We ate it as a sort of shortcake, with whipped cream and raspberries. Flash forward to today, when I set out to make Zuppa Inglese, which starts with spongecake, spread with various flavored  custards.  I had dished the cake batter into the pan and popped it in the oven, and for some reasons, glanced  back at the cook book. Lo and behold, I saw the words, "beat the egg whites and fold them into the batter."
I  swore, yanked the pan out of the oven and  added the egg whites. Do all spongecakes have egg whites?    According to the Joy of Cooking, yes they do. Did Hewlett  leave them out? Signs point to yes, as the  Eight  Ball would say.  So here is the recipe, with the egg whites.
The other sponge cake recipes tell you to fold in the egg whites. What does that mean? My New York aunt explained it to me once, saying that the cook sort of lifted the cake batter over the egg whites , making a sort of cake batter-egg white sandwich. I did this on my second spongecake, which I made for Zuppa Ingles. It resulted in white patches in the cake. 
So, here is the last word on  folding egg whites, direct from The Joy of Cooking.  "To fold, first of all have a large enough bowl. A flat whip as shown below(it appears to be a whisk that looks like it's been chopped in half) (I've never heard of a flat whip.) is usually recommended  but this tool can be maddening  because it cuts through the whites and its too widely spaced wires allow the heavier substances to fall through. We commonly dispense with tools for this step and use the flat of the hand. You may begin  by folding into the dough  a small quantity of whites. When thoroughly mixed (got that, thoroughly mixed)  fold in the rest of the whites by scooping up some of the more solid material and covering the whites. Then, cut it in with a determined, gentle slicing motion to the base of the  mixing bowl. Turn the bowl slightly with the other  hand each time you repeat the folding motions. It  is surprising how well and quickly blending is achieved by this simple procedure."  So that's the word on folding egg whites from Irma Rombauer  and Marion Rombauer   Becker.
My husband did this for the third spongecake, when we discovered that the second spongecake was not thick enough for  four layers of Zuppa Ingles.                                                                            


9 large egg  yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4  cup boiling water
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2  1/2 cups cake flour
3/4  teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons  baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Beat the egg yolks until light. (In color.) (This takes about 5-6 minutes.) Gradually  beat in the sugar  until the mixture is light and creamy.
3.  Beat i n the boiling water and the lemon extract.
4. Sift the flour with the salt and baking powder and fold in.
5.  Beat the egg whites until stiff,  but not dry. Fold them into the cake batter.
6. Turn into a greased 15-by-10-by-2 inch  baking or roasting pan and  bake forty-five minutes, or until done. Cool in the pan, on a rack
 Makes ten to 12 servings.

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