Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A surprising success

When I set about making cinnamon cream oysters (p67) on Monday, I did not have high expectations. Why? Because it's a sponge recipe, of course.

Like all sponges, it seemed fairly straightforward. I beat eggs and sugar until thick, added golden syrup, then sifted in a small amount of flour, along with baking powder, baking soda, and a fairly heavy dose of cinnamon and ginger. When this was carefully folded through, the mixture looked fairly good - still light and airy - and I set about spooning it into the tins.

This recipe calls for either sponge oyster or sponge finger tins. I definitely didn't have any sponge finger tins, though I did have one similar to a patty tin, but rounded instead of flat on the bottoms. This, I suspect, is a sponge oyster tin. Unfortunately it is only a 6-hole tin, so I just used ordinary patty tins for the rest. I figured the mixture was quite likely to stick, so instead of my usual rough spray with cooking oil, I carefully greased the tins with butter, old-school style.

I spooned my nice airy mixture into the tins and put them in the oven. The cooking time was 10-12 minutes, but after about 6 minutes, I started to worry. my 'oysters' were very dark on top, and I didn't want to burn them. A quick prod with a finger settled the 'spring back when touched' test - they were definitely cooked.

Once I had the oysters out of the oven, I realised that the dark colour was really just the result of the spices in the mixture. They weren't burnt at all. The oysters shrunk and shrivelled as they cooled, and I was convinced I'd produced another failure. They looked unappealingly flat as I eased them out of the tins.

Luckily, I was planning to feed them to the workmates, who do not have a history of being fussy about free food. I let the oysters cool and sealed them in an airtight container overnight.

In the morning, I quickly sliced each flat little oyster and filled it with cream. The filling definitely helped remedy the flat look of the things, and once they were laid out on a plate with a dusting of icing sugar, they actually looked pretty good.

It seems I was the only one who  thought there was anything wrong with the sponge oysters - and even I had to admit that whatever they looked like, they tasted great. The texture was unexpectedly light and airy, and they had a lovely spicy flavour, very similar to shop-bought ginger kisses, but lighter and with a less sickly filling.

Overall, the sponge oysters were so popular that I felt quite pleased with myself. Perhaps a little more confidence in my sponge abilities would be justified. Maybe. We'll see how I go with my next attempt!

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