Genoese Sponge Cake
This is THE classic recipe, if you only make one cake, let this one be it. Forget your (rather stodgy) Victoria Sponge and your (limited appeal) fruit cakes. The Genoese sponge is nearly fatless, light, bouncy, easy and can be flavoured in just about any way. My Mum made one of these about every three days, filled it with raspberry jam, dusted it with icing sugar and served it with a cup of tea when we came home from school. Yes, you can criticise, full of sugar. But have you seen the 1960s cake tins? They are about 1/3 the depth of ours. I suspect Mum’s recipe was 2 eggs, 100g of sugar and flour, and a tiny pat of melted butter – and that made two thin layers, which were sandwiched together with home made jam and lasted 3 days between 3 hungry tea-eaters. It’s not such a sin, is it? For birthdays she’d top it with buttercream icing, and on really special occasions she’d flavour the whole thing with chocolate. Once you’ve made three, you can just about make it in your sleep, it’s so tolerant and easy.
I made this example for my Seniors Lunch Club, and I’m afraid it isn’t my most photogenic attempt at cakes. I used yellow colour in the icing to be cheerful and spring like, and it is, isn’t it? If you like your cheerfulness a rather nuclear shade of yellow, this is the icing for you. It’s simply filled with jam and iced with water icing – I felt we needed something quite simple after Christmas.
For our first conference call after the break, my Seniors Lunch Club played the game: “Room 101”. Each member chose some items/people/attributes of modern life they wished to consign to oblivion and then defended their choice from the rest of the group. Previously one of our volunteers has consistently done away with coriander – we didn’t allow her to choose that again this time. Other choices of outlawing little dogs or wasps were also dismissed. We had an utterly hilarious discussion and never made it to the quiz, which normally takes us the last 20 minutes of our time together. We banned “inappropriate use of mobile phones” - ie. People talking on their phones while talking to you, or using them in concerts, “queue jumpers”, “covid”, “junk mail”, “really hot curry”, “too small writing on forms you have to fill in” and “music in restaurants”. We allowed a reprieve for Nicola Sturgeon, chicken Korma, DVD catalogues, accents on TV.
Next week our theme is “What Have I Got to be Grateful For?” which we usually have the week after a Room 101 session – as a positive antidote to the negative vibes!
Genoese Sponge – makes 16 portions. Timings – 15 minutes preparation, 25 minutes cooking, 1 hour to cool down, and 15 minutes to fill and ice.
Pre heat your oven to 180°C.
In your mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy – takes about 5 minutes. At the same time melt the butter in a small pan – then take it off the heat - and weigh out and sieve the flour. Grease and line a cake tin – for this amount I use a 22cm square tin, which makes a cake that is also easy to portion out.
When the eggs/sugar mix is beaten up, add the flour gradually, beating on a lower speed. Add the vanilla essence if using that rather than vanilla sugar. Spoon the butter on top and mix up the whole thing gently with a metal spoon – this keeps the air in the mix better than the rather coarser effect of a wooden spoon.
Scoop the batter into the cake tin and place in the oven for about 20 minutes until the cake is risen, golden on top and springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
Take it out, and leave to cool on a wire rack, then turn it out of the tin, peel off the paper, turn right way up again and leave to cool completely. At this stage, you can wrap it well in greaseproof paper and freeze it if you like.
Slice the cake through the equator carefully with a bread knife and fill with jam or with buttercream if you want something richer. Top with plain water icing, or dust with icing sugar.
Eat within 2 days. You won’t have a problem with that.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.