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Mum’s Sponge

There are certain things in life that just make people happy, a puppy running towards them to say hello or maybe a child’s laughter.  We all have something that we love.  For many of my family’s friends that would have to be my Mum’s sponge.  When I was a little girl it was always my Nanna who made the best sponge.  They were so high that you couldn’t get the whole piece in your mouth, as light as a feather, filled with the freshest cream and ripe fruit and topped with delicious icing.  We were also lucky enough to have it topped with hundreds and thousands.  It was enough to make all the cousins eat every vegetable on their plate just so that they could have a piece.  Those times have passed and my Mum has struggled with the huge boots to fill for many years and (by her own admission) failed somewhat for a long time.  However, the last few years have proved that practice makes perfect.  She now creates these amazing towers of velvety golden sponge, filled with cream and sliced strawberries and topped with passionfruit icing.  They are often taken to the local fire house, as one of our friends is a fireman, and devoured in minutes by the hard working gents with many words of praise and thanks. 

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my Mum (who lives interstate) recently and was lucky enough to receive a long awaited sponge cooking lesson during her visit.  Although I have always been a little hesitant to make a sponge in the past (because Mum is sooooo good at it) I think this recipe is so good that I am quite looking forward to trying it on my own in the future.

During my Mum’s visit many happy childhood memories were renewed, cooking with my Mum, eating sponge and spending time with friends and family that I love.  The best things in life are often the simplest.

sponge (recipe by Mary – Fiona’s Mum)
makes 2 sponges

Ingredients
4 eggs
3/4 cup castor sugar
3/4 cup cornflour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp custard powder
 
Preparation
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).  Lightly grease two 20cm (8 inch) round cake tins with a small amount of melted butter and line the bases with non-stick baking paper.

Separate the eggs and using an electric mixer, beat the whites until soft peaks begin to form.  Slowly add the castor sugar and beat until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat well, until completely combined.  Sieve the remaining ingredients three times to maximise lightness and pour into egg mixture.  Fold the flour mixture in using a circular motion.

Divide equally between the two pans.  Bake in a non fan force oven for 20 – 23 minutes, until risen and lightly golden.

Remove from the oven.  Run a flat knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the sponge.  Turn out onto a wire rack while still hot and gently remove paper.

Once cool, cut sponge in half and fill with cream and seasonal fruit.  Top with your favourite icing.

My (Mum’s) tips:  *Be careful that you do not over beat the egg whites.  As soon as the sugar is dissolved you should stop mixing.  You can tell if the sugar is dissolved by dipping your finger in the mixture and rubbing your finger and thumb together.  If you don’t feel any grains of sugar then it is ready.  *Don’t be scared of mixing the dry ingredients into the egg whites, you need to use a folding acting but be quite firm with it.  *Don’t use a fan force oven unless you have to as this can make them sink when your remove them from the oven.  If you do use a fan forced oven you may need to reduce your cooking time by up to 5 minutes.  *When dividing the mixture between the tins, weigh it out.  This will make sure you have two sponges that rise and cook the same.  

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ease: 8/10. After you have made these the first time it becomes really simple. 
prep time: 15mins
cooking time: 20mins.
total: 35mins.

taste: 10/10.  This is the lightest cake I have ever eaten.  It is so high that it needs to be eaten with a fork.  Each mouthful seems to almost touch your tongue and disappear due to the lightness of the sponge itself.  The cream is sweetened with a small amount of sugar and we decided upon a passionfruit icing this time.  All of the flavours worked together to create bliss.  We took this to dinner with family and although it was not completely eaten on the night I never saw it again.  I think that’s a good thing. 🙂   

Mum told me that this is often better the next day because it gives the cream a chance to immalgamate with the sponge properly.  Just cover it and place it in the fridge until it is needed.       

would I make it again: Yes – Because everyone asks for them and to honour my Mum & my Nanna.