In the beginning, there was sponge cake. My Mom's "Glorious" ( yes, this is the title on the typed index card) Sponge Cake was a constant dessert at family gatherings. When I was young, it seemed this was the cake for adults. We kids had cookies, cupcakes, and brownies. The sponge cake seemed too refined for us. Even when my Mom was baking it we couldn't do kid things like jump around the kitchen. (otherwise the cake would flop!) Why would we want to eat this fussy non-fun loving cake anyway?!
Because years later you learn it's the perfect light, blank canvas of a cake that appeals to all. I love it served with a simple dusting of confectioners sugar or dressed up with a simple dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit. It can be a delicious DIY type of dessert. I'm sure that appealed to my Mom's sensibilities. Bake something delicious and let the guests fuss with how much cream or fruit to add to their plate.
This sponge cake was the basis for many of my early Sweet Maria creations. Our original Pink Cloud cake was this sponge cake, softly tinted pink, fresh strawberries and lightly tinted whipped cream. It was difficult to mass produce, and many balked at the idea of a cake that was actually pink and barely decorated. I switched to a more traditional layer cake version, naturally colored and more suited to decorate for a birthday or other occasion.
So when you fee like "adulting", leave the sprinkles and cupcakes to the kids and bake this glorious treat.
Glorious Sponge Cake
You will need a 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom for this cake. You can jump around the kitchen without affecting the outcome of the cake, just be sure not to open the oven during baking. This will cause the cake to fall.
7 eggs, separated at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( or almond, or lemon)
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 cold water
Preheat oven to 325 F. In the bowl of a stand mixer ( or with a hand mixer) with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat until stiff.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks, remaining sugar and extract. Beat until light in color.
Add flour and water to egg yolk mixture alternately. Start and end with the flour. Mix just until blended.
Fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture a third at time. When uniformly blended, spoon batter evenly into an un-greased 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Top should be golden brown. Remove from the oven and invert pan to cool cake, 2 to 3 hours or overnight.
When cool, use a sharp, long knife to loosen the outside of the cake from the pan. Run the knife along the inner part of the tube pan and under the cake as well. Twist inner tube and carefully remove cake .
Can be baked 1 day in advance. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Serves 10 to 12
Pink Cloud Cake
When this cake is assembled, the bottom of the cake becomes the top!
1 Glorious Sponge cake
1 quart heavy cream ( 40% butterfat)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound strawberries, cleaned and sliced
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until stiff.
Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into three pieces. Place top of cake, cut side up onto desired plate. Spread whipped cream generously over the cake. Place strawberries on top of the cream. Top with next layer cake and repeat layering cake and cream. Garnish top with fresh berries.
Serves 10 to 12
Refrigerate until serving. Be sure to keep the cake refrigerated, away from other odors like onions, basil, etc.
Best served same day as assembling.
From Sweet Maria's Cake Kitchen (St. Martin's Press) 1998.
Cori tip: Use a serrated knife in a sawing motion to make a clean slice.