A few weeks ago “The Great British Baking Show” entered my life and I really don’t think I will be the same ever again, at least not in the way I approach baking. It’s exciting and inspiring and I immediately want to bake whatever sweet treat they are creating after each episode. I’ve been dying to make a sponge cake for weeks and it finally got the better of me today. Now, there’s one tricky thing with the “Great British Baking Show” that makes is super hard to recreate any of their recipes. The recipes use metric weight measurements for baking (ounces and grams) rather than older imperial volume system (cups, teaspoons…etc) and the temperatures are all in Celsius. I could certainly dig into the conversions but honestly, who really wants to do that. I have decided that the recipes will simply be inspirations to me and I will find similar versions using our familiar and friendly measurement system.
The classic American cookbook ‘The Joy of Cooking’ was the first oldie but goodie that I dug into for a good sponge cake recipe. I decided to start with the ‘French Sponge Cake.’ I new I wanted to drizzle a sweet syrup over the cake so I figured what better than a maple cream glaze sprinkled with pecans? I don’t have step-by-step photos this time…forgive me.
A good sponge cake is ALL about the eggs. I made my first sponge cake this summer and failed to do anything special with the eggs and the cake turned out to be extremely dense and rubbery and it even bounced (yes, we did try to bounce the cake on the kitchen floor to find out!).
Step 1: In a large bowl, thoroughly beat 6 egg yolks, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat well for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of cake or all-purpose flour on the top of this egg yolk mixture and let rest.
Step 2: In a separate large bowl, whip 6 egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Gradually add in 1/3 cup of sugar and beat like mad until soft peaks form.
Step 3: Fold in half of the beaten egg whites into the yolk/flour mixture and gently incorporate the two together. Once decently mixed, fold in the remaining egg whites. The goal here is to keep as much ‘air’ in the egg whites as possible and over-mixing will ruin the cake.
Step 4: Grease a bunt pan with softened butter and give it a dusting of flour. Gently pour the cake batter into the pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes (keep checking it with a toothpick near the end of baking to insure it is done. The top of the cake should be slightly springy when it is done. Let cool in pan.
Step 5: In a small sauce pan, melt 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup of ‘real’ maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and constantly stir the boiling sauce for 1 minute. Let cool for 5 minutes. Drizzle the cake (while still in the pan) with the semi-warm sauce and let it soak into the top of the cake. Flip the cake over onto a platter and drizzle more sauce over the top of the cake. Sprinkle crushed up pecans on the top and give it one more drizzle of the sauce. (You might use half of the sauce…save the rest for something later …like over your oatmeal, pancakes or cream of wheat in the morning!
Maple Pecan French Sponge Cake-
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of cake or all-purpose flour
- 6 egg whites (room temperature)
- 6 egg yolks (room temperature)
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup white sugar (for in the egg whites)
- 1/4 cup white sugar (for in the egg yolks)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- Approximately 1/2 cup of chopped/crushed pecans to sprinkle on glazed cake
If you really want to knock yourself out, serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! unfortunately, I had neither in my kitchen today.