Cook this: Light fluffy sponge cake from Crazy Sweet Creations

‘This sponge cake is light, fluffy, tall, and beautifully moist,’ says Ann Reardon

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Our cookbook of the week is How to Cook That: Crazy Sweet Creations by Ann Reardon. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with the author.

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To try another recipe from the book, check out: Sweet cherry pie and watermelon pizza.

Ann Reardon’s light fluffy sponge cake recipe is the result of extensive experimenting. So much so, she exhausted her at-home taste testers: her three sons, James, Matthew and Jedd.

“The boys didn’t even want to taste any more cake, I’d done so many experiments,” says the food scientist and host of the YouTube channel, How to Cook That.

“All the ones I tried, I just didn’t like them. I didn’t think they turned out fluffy. I didn’t think they were very nice texture-wise. They tasted OK, but they didn’t have that texture I was looking for. So I basically just did more and more and more experiments until I found a combination of things that worked.”

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Her recipe is somewhat unusual in that it calls for gelatin — not for its setting properties, but as an emulsifier. The powdered gelatin, like the egg yolks, binds together the oil and water, helping to stabilize the batter.

Boxed cake mixes include emulsifiers for this very reason, explains Reardon: A stable batter produces a uniformly aerated, moister cake. The emulsifiers used in food production aren’t readily available at the supermarket, so she turned to gelatin, which is.

“I could have used a commercially available one, but then nobody at home could have replicated the cake,” adds Reardon. “I wanted to use an ingredient on the shelf that would act in the same way, but everyone had access to it.”

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How to Cook That: Crazy Sweet Creations
Author and food scientist Ann Reardon is the host of the award-winning YouTube series How to Cook That. Photo by Joanie Simon /Mango Publishing Group

LIGHT FLUFFY SPONGE CAKE

Sponge Cake:
2 cups (320 g/11.3 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (330 g/11.5 oz) sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 g/0.3 oz) powdered gelatin
1/2 cup (125 mL/4.2 fl oz) vegetable oil
7 egg yolks (105 g/3.7 oz)
1 cup (250 mL/8.5 fl oz) cold water
7 egg whites (250 g/8.9 oz)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Assembly:
2 cups (250 g/8.8 oz) strawberries
2 1/2 cups (600 mL/20.3 fl oz) whipping cream (35 per cent fat)
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup strawberry jam

Step 1

To make the Sponge Cake: Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F).

Step 2

Place your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and gelatin into a bowl and whisk it to incorporate air and eliminate any lumps. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla, but do not mix.

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Step 3

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until they form soft peaks. Using the same beaters, mix together the flour mixture on low speed until it is just combined. Fold in the egg whites in three batches.

Step 4

Spread the mixture evenly in two lined 20 cm (8 inch) cake pans and bake for 35–45 minutes.

Step 5

To assemble: Whip together the cream, icing sugar and vanilla until it is thick enough to hold its shape. Do not over-whip the cream or the fat and liquid will separate.

Step 6

Wash and slice the strawberries. Reserving the perfect centre slices for the top of the cake, dice the remaining pieces. Spread jam on top of one of the cakes. Then using a large round piping tip (or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off), pipe round dollops of whipped cream around the edge of the cake, dragging the tail of each one toward the centre. Pipe more whipped cream in the centre of the cake and cover with diced strawberries, then place the second cake on top. For the top of the cake, pipe whipped cream around the edge in the same way, then pipe a second circle of dollops just inside the first. Finish with more whipped cream in the centre and lovely strawberry slices between each dollop of whipped cream.

Makes: 2 round 8 inch (25 cm) cakes layered into one cake

WHY USE GELATIN IN A CAKE?

In this recipe both the egg yolks and gelatin act as emulsifiers. Emulsifiers help ingredients that don’t normally mix, such as oil and water, to combine.

Using emulsifiers increases batter stability during mixing and baking, resulting in a moister cake with uniform aeration. This is why all boxed cake mixes include emulsifiers.

Recipe and photo excerpted from How to Cook That: Crazy Sweet Creations by Ann Reardon. (C) 2021 Reproduced by permission of Mango Publishing. All rights reserved.

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