Thursday, October 02, 2008

Setting Examples

A plain sponge cake can form the base of many cakes and desserts. By adding flavouring or substituting chocolate for some of the flour (plus a little raising agent) it can be changed into many different cakes, both small and large. The Victoria Sponge Cake is probably the best known, but even this can have different ways of making.
Probably most of you know how to make these cakes, but as am including the recipes with useful hints and tips, maybe there is room for can be improvement.

The first recipe is for the basic Victoria Sponge and this will be even lighter if you can buy the special cake or sponge flour. Otherwise just use self-raising and sift it twice to give extra lightness, and once again when adding to the creamed mixture. When it comes to creaming the fat and sugar, quite often we don't cream it as long as we should. Some chefs recommend it to be creamed for five minutes to make it almost white and very fluffy indeed. This is what helps to give the cake its lightness. When beating in the eggs, this can sometimes give the appearance of curdling, and when this happens a lot of the air is also lost, so a very little flour beaten in with each egg will prevent this, the remaining flour folded in later.
For the perfect cake the ingredients should be weighed accurately. Ideally, use a pair of balance scales (scoop one end, weights the other), then weigh the eggs on one side, and the other ingredients on the other. If using ordinary scales then weigh the two eggs first and adjust the weight of the other ingredients to suit (each ingredient should weight the same). This cake is made in a 7" (18cm) pair of cake tins, if using 8" then increase amounts to 6 oz (175g) of each - this means using one extra egg.
Victoria Sponge Cake:
4 oz (100g) butter, softened
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
2 eggs (100g total weight), beaten
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour, sifted twice
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, Beat in the eggs, a little at a time (with flour if necessary), then using a large metal spoon, sieve over, cut and fold in the flour. The mixture should fall from the spoon when tapped on the side of the bowl. If too thick, fold in a very little hot water.
Divide the mixture equally between two greased and base-lined 7" (18cm) sandwich tins and bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for 23 - 30 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.
Let the cakes stand for a couple of minutes in the tin then turn out onto a cake airer. If not wishing to get marks on what will be the top of the cake, cover the cake airer with a dry tea towel before turning out the cakes. Peel the paper from the base of the cakes and leave to get completely cold before (traditionally) sandwiching them together with jam. Fillings can be varied: butter cream, or fresh cream. When assembled dust tops with icing sugar.

This next recipe is for a very similar cake but made by the all-in-one method that definitely saves time at the expense of lightness. As not so much air is beaten in at the start, raising agent is added to counteract this. Have never done a trial by making the cake by first one method, then immediately after by the other, cannot comment on whether there is a very noticeable difference in height, texture and taste. It would be interesting to hear if anyone has done this.
Victoria all-in-one Sponge:
4 oz (100g) soft margarine
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 large eggs
few drops vanilla extract
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and beat together (using an electric whisk) for a minute, making sure everything is well mixed, but do not overbeat. Divide equally between two sandwich tins (see above for size and preparation),level the tops and bake at temperature as above recipe for the same amount of time. When removing from oven, do not leave to stand but turn them out onto a cake airer and continue as above.

This next recipe is for the basic Swiss Roll, and similar to above as an all-in-one cake but uses less fat. To make a good Swiss Roll us the correct size of tin 8" x 12" (20 x 30cm) or as near as, and grease the tin thoroughly before lining with greaseproof paper, allowing it to come half an inch above the sides of the tin. Then grease the surface of the paper as well.
Basic Swiss Roll:
2 oz (50g) soft margarine
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
2 eggs
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
1 tblsp hot water
(extra caster sugar)
Place the first four ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat together for one minute until well mixed, then add enough hot water to give a dropping consistency. Spread the mixture evenly over the prepared tin and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for approx 12 minutes and feels springy to the touch.
While it is baking, place a damp tea towel on a flat surface and cover this with a sheet of greaseproof paper slightly larger than the baking tin. Sprinkle the surface of the paper with caster sugar.
Once the cake has cooked, work the edges free with a knife and immediately turn it out onto the sugared paper. Very carefully peel away the base paper. Trim away the crusted edges to help it roll up easily. Either spread the exposed surface of the cake with warm jam, and roll up the cake, then wrap the paper round the cake until it has cooled, or - if you prefer, roll up the cake together with the paper, and leave to cool then unwrap, remove the paper, and fill with a cold filling such as jam and cream then re-roll.

Yet another sponge, but this time made with no fat and the proportions (flour to sugar to egg) are different. The cake most suitable for trifles etc (although at a pinch slices of jam-filled Swiss Roll are nearly as good) if you wish this cake can be made in one Swiss Roll tin and cut up for trifle sponges. Cooked in round tins the came can be filled to eat as above cakes, but will not keep so long. This time plain flour is used together with baking powder.
Fatless Sponge Cake:
3 oz (75g) plain flour, sifted
half tsp baking powder
3 large eggs, separated
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
Start by sifting together the flour and baking powder. Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar and whisk together until very thick and fluffy. Even using a handwhisk this can take five minutes. Using very clean beaters, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Using a large metal spoon fold a little egg white into the sugar mixture to slacken, then fold in a little flour, and repeat finishing with the egg whites. Divide the mixture equally between two greased, lined and surface greased sandwich tins and bake at 180c, 350F, gas 4 for 20 - 25 minutes. The cakes should have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin and also feel firm on top. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper that has been sprinkled with caster sugar, then transfer to a cake airer to cool completely.