Some weeks back, Deb had questions about lemon sponge cake. I searched my cookbooks and the internet and tried to find answers. Specifically, she wondered if she had to bake the sponge cake in a tube pan or if she could use her 9x13. I found some evidence that she could use the flat pan. But the cake still seemed like a large undertaking to me. The recipes I found called for 11 eggs separated, the whites to be beaten until stiff.
The other day, while researching my mother's recipe boxes, I came up with this recipe for "Sponge Cake," which makes a smaller cake and actually seems doable.
Grandma Dorothy's Sponge Cake
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
Juice of ½ lemon (probably about 2 tablespoons)
1/8 tsp salt
Beat whites of eggs with whip 'til stiff. Gradually add ½ the sugar. Beat yolks with dover egg beater. Add ½ the sugar, then lemon juice. Add yolks to whites slowly, then flour. Bake 1 hour in ungreased pan.
On the back of the same recipe card is another interesting recipe – Orange Sponge Cake. I believe this is the recipe Mother used most.
Grandma Dorothy's Orange Sponge Cake
¼ tsp soda
1 cup flour
4 tbsp orange juice
½ tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp grated orange rind
2 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
Method: Beat egg yolks with orange and lemon juice until thick and yellow. Mix sugar and grated rind and add gradually to egg yolks. Add stiffly beaten egg whites and cut and fold in flour sifted four times with soda. Pour into cake pan and bake in moderate oven about 40 minutes.
I found this recipe card in Mother's oldest recipe box, and you can tell it's old: "beat with whip 'til stiff," "dover egg beater," and "flour sifted four times" denote terms and methods we no longer use. As to the sifted flour, when I was a child, Mother taught me to sift the flour – and sift again and again as required. When pre-sifted flour came on the market, I was elated, but she said that didn't mean we didn't have to sift any more. She said it only took the place of the first sifting, and she went right on sifting. I, however, noticed that newer recipes didn't call for sifting the flour, and I happily stopped doing it. "There's one thing wrong with your baking, Kathy," Mother said as she munched a cookie at my house; "you don't sift the flour. Your product would be lighter if you did." Mother knew – she could tell! – that I was once again being passively disobedient.
Well, I still didn't return to sifting. Occasionally I feel guilty about it. For one thing, in mother's kitchen we worked out of a built-in flour drawer. It was easier to sift the flour back into the drawer, then measure out what was required. I work out of a canister, and my kitchens have no such thing as a flour drawer. My small sifter is stored in the back of a cupboard on the farm where I seldom meet up with up.
How about you? Do you sift the flour when you bake? Do you have a designated flour drawer in your kitchen?
[It's chilly here this morning (32 feels like 20) and the wind whistles around the house as we brace for another Pacific storm that may or may not materialize here in the valley.] KW