Summer Berry Sponge

This is a fabulously light and airy sponge and I’d imagine it must be lower in calories than say, a Victoria sponge by virtue of it having no fat or oil content. The role of butter is played here by egg yolks being mixed for a rather long time (so, best done in a freestanding mixer) with sugar and water to form a kind of mousse and the lightness comes from the whisked egg whites being folded in gently.

Anyway, it’s a summer classic and one I’ve been known to have to make three days in a row when staying with friends for our annual ‘camping’ get together because it gets scoffed in no time. In fairness, it is best eaten on the day its made and doesn’t keep terribly well, but I doubt you’ll find that a problem once it’s been tasted.

Before I get to the recipe, a quick word about my hint last time that my Supper Club may be making a comeback. Looks like we’re all set to run an Indian Supper Club on 28 July at Coastal Coffee, which is really exciting. I really enjoyed running the Mexican and Italian nights last year and it was a big disappointment when the new manager at The Whistle Stop wasn’t keen to run any more. I did have another option for a location which would have been great in terms of facilities etc and could also have taken a larger number, but it was a few miles down the road which I felt would make it less attractive to a local crowd and also, a little more difficult when I realised (as I did at least eight times each night) that I’d forgotten a utensil or two and had to nip home for them. Coastal Coffee really couldn’t be any closer to my house (unless it was the semi attached to ours), so location-wise it’s perfect and hopefully we’ll get a good turnout.

Anyway, lots happening before then, including adapting to having a ‘retired’ husband. Yes, the big lad finished his last ever night shift as a fire-fighter at 8 am on Saturday morning and is now, at the tender age of just 50, officially retired. He prefers to say he has ‘left’ for some reason, but a fact’s a fact I’m afraid. I know perfectly well he’ll have his time filled as much as ever between his counselling business, finishing his degree and the myriad other projects he takes on, so I don’t expect him to be around at home an awful lot more. Except at night. That could be the hardest bit of adjustment I have to say. For 22 years now I’ve been used to having two nights a week with the house, remote and bed to myself and I’m fairly sure he’s got well used to having two nights away from me too. I’ve been encouraging and supportive of his suggestions of some kind of night-counselling arrangement (perhaps too encouraging), but there’s nothing concrete just yet. Perhaps I need to give it more than… what’s it been so far? 37 hours?

Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s the recipe for the ultimate sponge cake. Enjoy

Serves 8   |  15 mins prep plus 20 mins cooking

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 90ml water
  • 150g plain flour, sieved
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp icing sugar for dusting
  • 250ml whipped cream
  • 100g raspberries and blueberries mixed and about 6 large strawberries, halved for decoration

You will also need…

  • 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, buttered and lined (bottoms only) with greaseproof paper
  • A free-standing mixer

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 and prepare your tins as above.
  2. Place the egg yolks in sugar in a free-standing mixer and beat for 2 minutes, then add the water, scrape down and whisk for 10 mins or until it’s firm and creamy (set a timer and check and scrape down after 5 mins)
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold in with a spatula or metal spoon (I prefer a silicone spatula for all baking as it’s perfect for scraping down and getting every last bit out of bowls etc)
  4. Take a separate bowl and beat the egg whites to stiff peak stage (where you can turn the bowl upside down without fear of them falling out). Now fold this in to the flour mixture really gently using your spatula until all combined.
  5. Divide the mix between the two tins and bake in the oven for 20 mins (check with a skewer after 18 to see if they’re set in the centre).
  6. Let them sit for 2 mins before removing from the tins – they should come away from the edges very easily – and allowing them to cool on a wire rack.
  7. When completely cool, whisk the cream and use 3/4 in the centre of the two sponges, dotted the cream all over with the raspberries and blueberries. Take the remaining 1/4 and pipe 10 or so circles around the outside of the top layer and one in the middle – not big, just enough to hold half a strawberry in each. Top with the strawberries, dust with icing sugar and serve.

berry_cream_sponge_full2

 

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