Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Soggy sponge and other mishaps

I've been meaning to tackle a few more sponge recipes: not an appealing task, as I've never yet managed to make a passable sponge. I've got Mum's sponge sandwich tins now though, and was hopeful that having the correct size tins would make a difference.

With this in mind, I decided to make a lemon sponge (p69) last night to bring in to work today. Tuesday's a good day for a random sponge cake, I reckon.

The recipe's quite straightforward - you just put flour, sugar, eggs, melted butter, vanilla essence and milk in a mixer bowl and beat it for three minutes, stir in some baking powder and it's ready to go in the tins. I lined the sponge sandwich tins (probably would have been best if I'd had these prepared in advance) and divided the mixture between them.

With the sponges in the oven, went back to the mixer: I'd decided to make mock cream (p78) instead of using fresh cream. I'd had some butter aside to soften, so I beat this up with icing sugar, before adding vanilla essence and a little milk, and beating further until it looked white and creamy.

By the time I'd finished this, the sponges had been in the oven for 10 minutes. They were supposed to cook for 15-20, but when I glanced into the oven, they looked to already be quite dark on the top. Panicking, I took them out.

The sponges weren't actually as dark on top as they'd looked in the oven, but I didn't really want them to get darker. The tops were springing back when I pressed them, so I decided not to put them back in again.

I left the sponges in the tins for five minutes, during which time both sponges sagged alarmingly in the centre. When I turned them out onto a rack, I saw why: they were both still entirely uncooked in the centre.


Normally I would have just biffed them out, but then what would I do with the mock cream? I gave it some thought while the sponges were cooling down, and finally came up with a plan: giggling to myself, I cut around the gooey centres and salvaged as much sponge as I could. I spread the pieces with mock cream and generous amounts of my home-made lime honey. Then I sandwiched the matching halves together and cut the larger pieces into serving-sized bits. Hey, at least it wasn't wasteful!

This morning, with my platter of sponge pieces sitting in the passenger seat, I attempted to start my car. And failed: it was totally dead. Sighing, I picked up the platter and wandered off to the bus stop. Except that there's now a major road blockage on the street where I'd usually catch the bus. Hmmm.

I went to a bus stop around the corner instead, but still sat worrying that the bus wouldn't come past that stop. I saw several people walk past me in the direction of the next stop, and convinced myself that the bus would be turning off one block up instead. I grabbed my sponge platter and started walking towards the next stop, just in case.

I was about one-third of the way there when I saw the bus coming. And it was going to come past the stop I'd just left after all. I turned and ran back, waving frantically with one arm while I tried to keep ahold of my platter of sponge with the other.

An hour later, I arrived at work, a mere 45 minutes late and still gripping a platter that had by then begun to feel oddly heavy. It was worth it though: my scrap bits of munted sponge were actually received with great enthusiasm, and the platter was cleared very quickly. SOME people (who shall remain nameless) even had as many as three pieces before others had had any at all.

There's really only one thing I can say about the failure of this sponge: I should have baked it for longer. The parts that were cooked through were actually very nice. I'm glad I didn't throw the whole thing away, because at least I know parts of it were ok! One of these days I'll actually manage a decent sponge...

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