This method of cake making is generally used for rich cakes.
- Place butter and sugar into a warm bowl – do not allow the butter to ‘oil’, cream together with a wooden spoon until the colour changes from yellow to white. The mixture will then be soft and fluffy with no ‘grittiness’.
- Break the eggs, one at a time, into a bowl – test for freshness – then add to the mixture and with 1 tablespoon of flour (from the ingredients in the recipe), beat thoroughly. This will prevent the mixture from curdling. Continue until all the eggs have been added. At this point add any spices or flavourings, but not fruit.
- Use a metal spoon to fold in the flour, a little at a time, to the mixture, alternating with any liquid in the recipe. Fold in means stir once around the bowl and once through the middle.
- Continue this action until all of the flour is mixed in. At this stage do not whisk, beat or stir – it will spoil the cake.
- Add any fruit and lightly fold in to combine.
- Place in the prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of a moderate oven.
Cakes made by this method have a lovely moist, sticky texture with good keeping qualities and should be left a day before cutting as this enhances the flavour and allows the crust to soften. Used to make parkin, gingerbread and American brownies. This is one of the simplest cakes to make and bake, and in my opinion one of the best methods to use.
- Sieve all the dry ingredients together into a bowl – dry ingredients include flour, spices, raising agent and salt.
- Put the butter, sugar, chocolate, syrup and/or tea (if using) into a saucepan and warm gently over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted, the ingredients well blended, allow to cool a little.
- Using a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, any dairy products other than butter together until well blended. The dairy products in this step includes milk, buttermilk, soured cream, cream, crème fraîche of yoghurt then mix in the cooled butter/sugar etc.
- Mix in the cooled syrup (made with the butter and sugar, etc.), then pour over the dry ingredients and quickly mix well, until smooth, take care not to over-mix.
- Pour the mixture into a greased and lined tin and bake.
Rubbed in Method
Cakes made by this method are easy to make and ideal for the less experienced cook, and in my experience, these are the best to make when you have little time to spare. The method produces a cake with an open texture.
You simple sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa, if using, along with the salt into a large baking bowl, rub in the butter. Put the eggs, milk, flavourings into a jug, whisk until well blended then add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Then simply pour or transfer to the tin and bake.
Whisking Method (Basic Sponge Recipe and Method)
Basic Sponge - 4 eggs – with shells plus – their weight in plain flour and unrefined caster sugar.
Chocolate Sponge – As for the basic sponge but replace one ounce of flour with one ounce of cocoa.
Plus – in the old recipe I use there is also an additional ingredient – from 1 teaspoon of warm water to 1 tablespoon (or a mixture of water and citrus juice).
20 cm (8”) round cake tin – lightly spray with cooking oil.Preheat the oven to 180ºC, 355ºF, gas mark 4.
Prepare a pan with 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of simmering water and a bowl over the top that does not come into contact with the water. Break in the eggs, add the sugar and whisk until the texture thickens and is lukewarm (do not allow to become too hot). Remove bowl from the pan, continue whisking until the mixture is thick, ropey and lukewarm.
Alternatively – beat with an electric mixer until very thick and pale, and the mixture leaves a trail on the surface when the beaters are lifted out.
Sift half the flour over the mixture and gently fold in with a large metal spoon, sieve the remaining flour over the mixture, fold in with the water or citrus juice.
Scrape into the prepared tin and shake gently so that it spreads evenly into the corners, bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Fillings/Toppings – you can use many fillings or toppings with a sponge cake, these are just a few examples.
- Chocolate Ganache made with equal parts good quality chocolate and double cream.
- Try cutting the sponge into two layers, sandwiching the cake together with Nutella topped with lightly whipped double cream or crème fraîche.
- Cream cheese frosting/filling and fresh berries – bilberries or blueberries, raspberries, loganberries.
- Raspberry jam and cream.
- Gooseberry or passion fruit curd and cream.
- Lemon or lime curd – this is quite nice mixed into whipped cream for a filling.
How can I tell if my cake is cooked?
- Fruit/Sponge – a fine warmed skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. A continued bubbling sound indicates cooking is required.
- Sponge – properly baked cakes should be evenly brown with slight shrinkage from the side of the tin and firm to touch.