First a quick word about cake making. I thought I’d share this recipe, because it’s a nice easy introduction to sponge cake. There are a couple of things to that are good to know before starting; Have all your ingredients the same temperature, so keep your eggs out of the fridge. The ideal temperature for egg to whisk to it’s optimal volume is 40 degrees celsius! When I was in college we actually heated them up to this temperature to guarantee best results. Unless I bake a cake for sale, I’d at least make sure that they are at room temperature. The next thing good to know when baking this sort of light sponge (Genoese) that you’ll have to whisk it till it at least doubles in capacity and can hold a figure eight… Which means, when you’re whisking the sponge and think it’s done, lift up the whisk and try and draw an eight on the surface, if it holds it for a couple of seconds, it’s done.
Seen as Valentine’s Day is approaching I decided to top my cake with some icing. I normally wouldn’t do this purely because I have a bit of a love/hate feelings towards it due to the sugar content, lack of flavour and all the additives in most food colours. I think to finish of the cake with a dusting of a icing sugar or cocoa powder would have equally nice effect.
For the sponge:
200g eggs (4)
140g caster sugar
80g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
For the Baileys custard:
40g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
30g plain flour sieved (2 tbsp)
200ml whipping cream + couple of tbsp icing sugar
15 – 30ml Baileys Cream Liquor
10g gelatine powder (2 tsp)
50ml hot water, nearly boiling point
First, turn the oven on to 210 degrees celsius. Take a shallow oven tray approx. size 30cm x 35cm (12” x 14”) and line it with baking parchment. Measure all your ingredients. Whisk your eggs together with the sugar till it’s light in colour, min. double in size, and so fluffy you’d want to dive into it. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together into the mix and fold carefully, avoiding too much handling and knocking off the air. (I add first 1/3 the flour, mix it through and only then the rest. This way you’ll get lot less lumps of flour in the egg & sugar mix, due to more resistance it the mix) Spread it evenly on the oven tray and bake for 8 mins. Turn the oven off, but leave the sponge in for further 2 mins or until it bounces back when touched.(If in doubt, check with a skewer) It is important not to open the oven for the first 7-8mins, otherwise the sponge will go flat and lose its volume. The end result should be nice and light that melts in your mouth! Leave to cool.
(You can use the above to make swiss roll too.)
To prepare the custard measure out all your first ingredients, put them into a heavy based sauce pan and bring to the boil on medium heat stirring constantly. (But let it only bubble once!) I used real vanilla (about 1cm piece, slice open and with tip of knife scrape the seeds out) You can use essence, but in that case add it only in the end, because otherwise the aroma will evaporate once the custard heats up. Once it is ready it will be runny, but thick. More of a consistency of sloppy mashed potatoes rather than thick soup.. Somewhere right in between those! Leave to cool.
Next, whip up your cream with the icing sugar (according to your own taste) until it’s nice and soft, not too firm and add the Baileys.
Add the gelatine to the hot water until it dissolves. You can use Agar either, or leaf gelatine and use them according to the instructions in the packet.
Add the whipped cream and Baileys to the cooled down custard, fold gently and thoroughly. Add the gelatine water stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming.
To assemble your cake, divide the sponge slab/sheet (whatever you want to call it!) into two equal sizes. I made it on top of chopping board and covered with some tin foil with the edges bent up to make little walls to avoid the custard from spilling out too much. But if you have a tray that would be suitable to hold it all together, use that. Place one sheet at the bottom, pour the custard over and spread evenly, and finally place the second sheet on the top. Leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours. Cut to slices. If you use icing, cover the whole lot, before cutting)
Tip! Once the custard is set; place the cake in a freezer for half an hour, to get neater slices.
You can also use this sponge recipe to make a layered slab cake by dividing it into three once baked and cooled. Spread jam over the first layer, and butter icing or whipped cream on the 2nd, finishing off with a layer of sponge.