Thursday, August 22, 2013

Easy Sponge Cake - with citrus, rosemary and thyme

this week  is the FWDR Blog Birthday week! it's been an whole entire year since the first post 52 weeks ago, and how far we've come. the year has been a good one, with lots of sun (and rain) and great home grown food. when FWDR first posted the Homegrown Bloody Mary post, it was also THE Julia Child's Birthday, and what a day to begin a food blog! So, in honour of Julia and the big birthday, I've taken from Julia's, Baking with Julia Cookbook, a cake recipe I've used time and time again with great results. I tweaked it a little to give it an FWDR spin, by adding lime zest, rosemary and thyme. its a perfect sponge recipe made even better with freshly whipped cream and homemade jam.

I've added a lot of pictures of the sponge making process, as I feel many people are afraid of making sponge cake. it really is easy, though. the one trick is to use a light touch, and not to be scared! the only leavening to this cake is the air you whip into the eggs, so an aggressive hand will knock out vital air and lend to a dense, lifeless cake. this is a traditional French genoise recipe, using the cold technique. don't skimp on whipping time, you need to whip the eggs and sugar until a ribbon sits on top of the mixture for 10 seconds, so beat those eggs for at least 5 minutes.
I recently bought the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, by Thomas Keller. I really liked the paired down presentation of the 'Madeline Cake,' with just a simple flower and fresh fruit garnish, so I naturally adopted it for this post - with freshly picked blackberries from the hedgerow. this cake only needs a bit of fruit to be good, some jam to be better and a heaped portion of whipped cream to be great. if you can find lemon thyme use it in this recipe, its my favourite herb for sweet recipes, or for cocktails like this one. rosemary also lends itself well to baking, especially with a bit of citrus to accompany it.

whipping eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage

lightly folding in the dry ingredients

mixing melted butter into a small portion of batter

once mixed lightly fold the butter mixture  into the main mix to hold as much air as possible in the batter

a parchment lined tin - a secret to perfectly baked cakes


Easy Sponge Cake with citrus, rosemary and thyme

Makes 1 - 9" (23cm) sponge cake layer

this is a great basic sponge recipe to master, if you want you can leave out the herbs, but they do make a lovely and subtle addition to almost any flavour combo. try serving this with crème fraiche lightly sweetened with local honey, oh yum!

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 cup (125g) All purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons thyme (or lemon thyme), finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
zest of 1 lime, finely grated
  • preheat your oven to 180C or 350F
  • grease a 9 inch (23cm) cake tin with butter then line bottom of pan with a parchment circle
  • weigh out all the ingredients, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and all the herbs to the flour
  • place the melted butter in a small bowl
  • then place the rest of the sugar with the eggs in a medium sized mixing bowl, beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes, this is a crucial step, if the mixture isn't whipped enough the cake will turn out dense.
  • the eggs are ready when the beaters are lifted from the mixture and a ribbon forms on the surface of the whipped eggs, and doesn't dissolve for 10 seconds (see photo above)
  • now using a rubber spatula gently fold in the flour mixture into the whipped eggs, using as few folds as possible and with a light touch.
  • take a scoopful of batter and mix this into the melted butter in the small bowl
  • once the butter is incorporated fold this mixture into the main batter, gently. (this ensures that the butter gets incorporated evenly without loosing vital air in the main batter)
  • pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 20 -30 minutes
  • the cake is done when a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • serve warm or at room temp, with jam and/or cream

1 comment: