Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Make a Successful Sponge Cake?

This is a follow up to my previous post about baking sponges and the landmines that are associated with it.  Ok, maybe "landmines" is too strong a word but a lot of things can go wrong.  I have since learned 2 other ways to bake sponge cakes from my Wilton instructor (see my other blog on My Cake Decorating Journal here) Korean style.  I found this article that attempts to dispel the myths for successfully baking a light and airy sponge cake every time particularly useful.

Source: Pamela Clark and Fran Abdallaoui, Australian Women's Weekly

There seems to be a myth surrounding the sponge cake - little wonder so many of us are daunted by the thought of baking one.  Yet a bit of practice, know-how and a few basic rules will help you master the art in no time.

Sponge cakes rely on eggs for their lightness and structure, so very fresh, good eggs on low speed and, as they thicken, increase the speed to moderately high.  Add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, scraping down the sides occasionally to avoid any undissolved sugar.  This ste requires patience as it may take about 10 minutes to incorporate all the sugar.

Although only experience will teach you the best way to fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, there are a few tricks to it.  Start by sifting the dry ingredients three times to ensure the mixture is evenly combines.  Using a large metal spoon, rubber spatula, balloon whisk or even your hands, apply a light, deft stroke to lift the egg mixture from the bottom of the bowl and drag the dry ingredients thought hte egg mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl.

Deep cake pans give the best results as the depth of the pan protects the delicate sponge mixture, preventing a crisp crust from developing.  Aluminium pans conduct heat better than other types of pans.  Give your pan a light, even greasing with a pastry brush dipped in melted butter to keep the cake from sticking and achieve even browning.  When you are dividing the mixture between the pans, gently spread it to the edge as the mixture will not spread in the oven.  As a general rule, sponges cook best when the tops of the pans are in the centre of the oven.  If you are baking two sponges on different shelves, you will need to swap their positions halfway through the cooking time to ensure even cooking.  As long as you move quickly and handle the pans carefully, you should still achieve good results.

Opening the oven door does decrease the temperature, but will only affect the cake's rising if you do this during the early stages of cooking.  The sponge is cooked when it begins to shrink away from the side of the pan and feels slightly springy to the touch.  Sponges are best made ont he day of serving.  Unfilles sponges can be frozen for up to one month. 

Follow these tips and soon you'll be whiskcing up light and airy sponges that are 10 centimetres high.

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