Sponge cake

Sponge cake

By
From
Modern Italian Food
Makes
1
Photographer
Earl Carter

At its simplest, a sponge cake, with the addition of seasonal fruits or berries, some cream or a sweet icing, is one of the delights of home cooking. Even if a sponge comes out of the oven with some imperfection, the fragrant combination of eggs, flour and sugar is enough to get you over the line. With these ingredients you cannot go really wrong.

A custard filling is wonderful with a sponge cake. You might also add some strawberries, either between the layers of the cake or on the side. For something a little more exotic, sprinkle the sponge with a liqueur like Strega or Grand Marnier. Fresh sponge does not need much, but if it is a day or so old it is better to moisturise the sponge with a sugar syrup.

This easy sponge is the basis for countless desserts.

Sponge

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100g plain flour, sifted
50g cornflour, sifted
5 medium-sized eggs, separated
100g caster sugar

Custard

Quantity Ingredient
500ml milk
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, (optional)
3 egg yolks
50g cornflour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and lightly flour a 26 cm cake tin.
  2. To make the sponge, first combine the sifted flours in a bowl.
  3. In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs whites to soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar and continue whisking to form a glossy meringue. Leave the motor on a medium speed and add the yolks one by one, mixing until combined. Gently fold in the combined flours.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. To make the custard, put the milk into a large saucepan with half the caster sugar and the vanilla bean and bring to the boil.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar, then add the cornflour to form a paste. Carefully pour a little hot milk onto the yolk paste, whisking well to incorporate. Continue slowly adding the hot milk until half is used. Remove the vanilla bean, split it and scrape the seeds into the remaining milk. Bring the milk back to the boil and pour it onto the yolk mixture. Tip the whole lot back into the saucepan over a medium heat. At this point the custard will thicken quickly, so work fast and continue whisking until it returns to the boil. Cook for a few minutes to make sure the flour has lost its raw taste, then pour the custard into a clean bowl and cover the surface with clingfilm.
  7. Refrigerate until it has cooled completely. When you are ready to fill the sponge, beat the custard briefly using an electric beater to ensure it is really smooth.
  8. When the cake is completely cool, split in half and fill with lavish amounts of custard.
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