Cake Week: part two; Julia Child’s Biscuit au Beurre

Butter Spongecake from  Mastering the Art of French Cooking: this was chosen when I consulted this cook book about the size of pan to use. Julia uses a 10 inch pan for 4 eggs. In “Cake Week”: or my attempt at the sponge, part one I used 6 eggs in an 8-inch pan.  Julia tells the baker what equipment to use, balloon whisk and 10 inch pan. This recipe adds some butter. The other recipe choice I could have made was the Orange Sponge which uses 4 eggs in a 9 inch pan. Hopefully I will redeem myself with this Sponge.

  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted and left to cool
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour turned into a sifter
  • IMG_2020
    not quite as elegant a mise en place as in part one

Butter and flour a 10 inch round cake pan at least two inches deep. I use my 10-inch springform pan. I spray all around with baking spray. Perhaps I should have just sprayed the bottom and not the sides? This is a sponge recipe so the eggs are separated with the egg whites folded into the batter.

Gradually beat the 2/3 cup sugar into the egg yolks, add the vanilla and beat for several minutes until thick and pale and “forms the ribbon”.

Beat the egg whites and salt together in separate bowl until soft peaks form. Sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

The combining of these gets fussy. And I believe this affected the outcome.

Scoop 1/4th of the egg whites over the egg yolk mixture. Sift on 1/4th of the flour. “Delicately fold in until partially blended”. Repeat with 1/3 of the egg whites and flour. Repeat with 1/2 of each.  Then the last of each. When partially blended fold in the rest of the tepid butter but not the milky residue at the bottom. “Do not overmix; the egg whites must retain as much volume as possible.” Turn into the pan and bake at 350 degrees F (a proper temperature) for 30-35 minutes. Let rest in pan for 6-8 minutes and then turn out.

It was difficult not to add the milky residue. And I may have more fully blended than partially. The volume of the batter diminished slightly while adding the butter.

This cake did not rise. It did remain spongy though. I glazed it with a Lemon Marmalade as I had substituted one of the teaspoons of vanilla with one teaspoon lemon extract.

So did I redeem my place in “the tent”? I am not sure. I do not know what constitutes “a proper sponge”. But I do not think I will get a handshake from Paul!

Both cakes were spongy. The butter sponge was slightly more dense than the other but not quite as dense as an ordinary butter cake. The crumb looked good with even air bubbles. The first sponge was quite spongy. And its flavor was more enjoyable. The verdict is to remake the first cake using the 10 inch pan. Or maybe I’ll just stick to butter cakes.

 

“Cake Week”: or my attempt at the sponge, part one

I have finished binge watching the 5th season of GBBO and Hubby is concerned that I have not mastered the sponge. I think most American cakes are butter cakes. Sponges for me usually turn into hockey pucks. I did have one success here. But my favorite cakes to bake are still butter cakes. “Paul and Pru” would probably throw me out of the tent for this latest endeavor. They seem to always be saying “make a sponge” and do this, that, and the other thing to it. I looked up in my French and British cookery books what an “opera cake” and “Victoria sponge” are about. We mid-American home cooks just bake cakes and ice them with frosting or powdered sugar without naming them. Except for German Chocolate Cake and that isn’t even German. Okay, also Angel Food Cake…and others…it’s the thought that counts.

Fall is here with cooler temperatures. My new kitchen counters have been installed and I have reorganized my baking supplies and I have a kitchen sink again. We won’t mention the three holes in the ceiling waiting for the plumber to come fix a leak. And I have been drooling over cook books in these two weeks without a functioning kitchen, so it is finally time to bake something. And that something will be the gateau de Savoie from my French Feasts cookbook: Savoy Cake (blow-away sponge).

Warning: the results are not pretty! Not Star Baker material today.

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (make this by whisking regular sugar in the food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch (Hunh?)

    IMG_2013
    Mise en place

Unfortunately this cookbook fails to state what size pan to use. Most of the gateau are made in loaf pans. Most of the British cakes are made in 7-8 inch pans. I choose my 8 inch spring form pan, thinking this will work out well.

Directions: Beat the yolks with the sugar until pale and tick. Add the vanilla, flour, and cornstarch. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and fold them gently into the rest of the mixture using a spatula. Pour into non-stick pan and bake at 300 degrees F for 40 minutes. It is at this point I am wondering if my pan is too small. I’m also thinking that the oven should be at 350 which is the temperature at which most cakes get baked. Hmmm?

Yep! Wrong size pan! And 40 minutes in the slow oven was not enough time. Silly me, I put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

A complete disaster and waste of 6 eggs! The crust is a tasty meringue; the top part of the cake is not done. I scrape that part off and the bottom half is spongy. What to do?

The cake is soft and spongy. And foldable. I get out the blackberry preserves and…

IMG_2021

Did I save my place in the tent? Stay tuned for Part Two.

It’s a Sponge!

“When the occasion calls for a light, sweet dessert, this delicious orange sponge cake is a perfect choice. Stiffly beaten eggs–first the whites, then the yolks–are the secret of its light, airy texture.”

Thus begins the intro to “the best-ever orange sponge cake” according to the McCall’s Cooking School in its 1984 recipe cards series. I have several of these cards (pages) because they came in the mail as promotional material with the hope that one would subscribe and receive a packet of recipes monthly eventually becoming an entire cookbook. Well, I just saved the pages that I got for free!

I decided to make the cake. I do not do well making sponge or chiffon cakes. I like butter cakes and do pretty good with them. In my past efforts to make sponge cakes they turn out like hockey pucks and inedible. Perhaps my baking skills have improved. I am counting on it as I begin this bake. I figure that a sponge has no butter and actually has less sugar than my usual butter cakes so that is a good thing.

In baking I may change up flavorings but generally follow the instructions exactly. Baking is a science, flavoring is the art.

  • 6 egg whites, brought to room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (silly me, I only measured out 3!)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel

In large bowl of electric mixer beat the egg whites until foamy then gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks form. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift the sifted flour with the salt onto a plate or sheet of waxed paper; set aside.

In another bowl beat the egg yolks until very thick and lemon-colored, no less than 3 minutes. Do not underbeat. Gradually beat in remaining 1 cup of sugar and continue beating until smooth. At low speed alternately blend flour mixture and orange juice into the egg yolk mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Add orange peel.

Sponge and miracle whip potato salad 009

Now gently fold yolk mixture into egg whites. I never know if I have adequately folded this together. I did not want to deflate the egg whites but did not want the batter to be unblended.

 

Prepare the pan. The instructions are to use an ungreased 9 3/4 by 4 inch kugelhopf pan. Or a tube pan without removable bottom. So I use a bundt pan. If desired, one can spray the pan with cooking spray but after baking do not invert over bottle to let cool. Just put it on a rack to cool completely and then remove from pan by running a spatula around the edge of the cake.

Dust with powdered sugar, cut and serve. Success is mine! It is light and airy and has a light orange taste. Hubby says “moist, orangey”, at first he said “lemony” so perhaps the other 3 tablespoons of orange juice is needed. But he likes it, and so do I.

finish sponge 002