26 April, 2010

Orange Sponge Cake

We never say "sponge cake" anymore, well people I know don't. Every cake has to have a flavor, description, and plenty of thick icing; but what happened to simplicity? Perhaps we as Americans have lost our appreciation for this basic cake amongst the corn-syruped and chocolate dipped sweets that modern chemistry has afforded us, perhaps we have been over sugared?
Within England it's referred to as "sponge" and is common as a tea snack, a popular choice is Victoria Sponge, a sponge cake with jam layered in the middle. Sponge cake is at it's simplest a fluffy cake which can be eaten alone, or due to it's appropriate absorbency, is perfect accompanied with creme or fruit. The fluffiness of this cake comes from the presence of beaten egg whites within the batter; the cake maintains it's body despite the low proportion of flour by having less fats to soften its structure; this cake uses no yeast, and is one of the earliest non-yeasted cakes.

Adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" I present: Gateau a l'Orange
What you will need:
  • Spring form pan or small greased 9 inch pan.
  • whisk or electric beaters
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • a way to grate an orange
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs separated
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of 3 oranges
  • pinch-o-sal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp of extra sugar
Whisk 1/2 cup of sugar with eggs yolks until mixture thickens to a slow stream when falling from the whisk. Add zest, juice, and salt to the mixture and beat until foamy. Slowly beat in the flour to avoid lumps.
In a separate bowl whisk sugar, salt, and egg whites together until still peaks are formed.
This will take awhile and probably hurt your forearm.
Fold the egg-white mixture into the batter one forth at a time using a wooden spoon or another flattened implement. Folding the delicate egg-whites into the heavier batter helps the egg-whites maintain their structure.
Folding is achieved by sweeping the bottom of the batter to the top slowly until mixture is incorporated.
Pour mixture into greased pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, but start checking at 15. The cake should be puffy and lightly browned.
The book says to cook for 30-35 minutes, mine baked for 18 and burned slightly. Perhaps my oven is too hot, but I would suggest vigilance.
Orange Butter Glaze

What you will need:
  • whisk
  • saucepan
  • basin of cold water

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of 2 oranges
Beat all ingredients together in saucepan before heating. Once everything is incorporated heat on low or over a double boiler until mixture thickens to the consistency of honey. The mixture is at the optimum temperature when it is too hot for your finger tip.
Heating slowly prevents the eggs from scrambling.
Once temperature has been reached remove from heat and place the bottom of the saucepan in the basin of cold water. Continue to whisk for 4-5 minutes until the mixture thickens.

Cut the cake in half horizontally and pour glaze on the exposed part of both halves. Allow to set and reassemble. You can also take a small layer off of the top and pour the glaze over the top.


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