A Wee Sponge Cake with Tennessee Strawberries and Whipped Cream

 

Does this cake look gigantic to you? I thought so. Well it is really just 6 inches across….really. A wee, dramatic “Tennessee Strawberry Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream”.  A cake that is just enough to serve 6 people, or 2 people for 3 days…or maybe even 1 person for 6 days. Any way you slice it, this cake is easy to make, adorable and scrumptious.

I posted a “Victoria Sponge and Strawberries” as well as a “Ruby Red Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling” cake recipes a few years ago. They are larger cakes…..this is the “little sister” cake. If you wander over to those recipes you will find out a bit more about the history of the Victoria Sponge which is a good cake to make this week to celebrate summer, strawberries and the Big Wedding in London.

Later this year there will be a cookbook arriving on the dessert scene that features small cakes. “little everyday cakes” by Candace Floyd, published by Spring House Press.  My wee cake is inspired by Candace’s upcoming book. I was lucky and pleased to be asked to work on styling the cakes for this book. It’ll be out in October,  but if you want you can pre-order via Amazon.

Maybe we shouldn’t deny ourselves cake,  but just go smaller.

If a 10″ springform pan went on a diet this is what they would look like. These are my favorite 6″ springform cake pans from Fat Daddio’s.

Layers baked and split into 4, cream whipped fluffy, local strawberries macerated with a bit of raw sugar….that’s all.

Local berries will go quickly…make it now.

A Wee Sponge Cake with Tennessee Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Special Tools:  Two six inch cake pans, preferably springform as they are easier to get layers out of..but whatever you have that size.

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cup self-rising flour, sifted
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar or powdered sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • coconut oil spray for greasing cake pans
  • 2 to 3 pints of fresh, early summer strawberries, tops removed and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 2 pints of heavy whipping cream
  • powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray cake pans with coconut oil spray. This will actually add a nice subtle flavor to cakes. Set aside.
  2. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until creamy and pale.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  4. Whisk the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  5. Working a little bit at a time, fold the flour into the egg mixture using a large spoon until  blended. Fold in the sea salt.
  6. Scrape batter into cake pans. Bake for about 20 minutes until cakes are done in the middle. Let cool for a few minutes in the pans and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. While cake layers are baking, toss together the berries and the raw sugar.  If some berries are large then cut in half or into quarters. Set aside, in a smaller bowl, about 1/2 cup of the berries.
  8. Using a fork or potato masher, lightly crush remaining sugared berries just a bit. Let sit for about 30 minutes while cakes are baking and cooling.
  9. When cakes are totally cooled, split each layer into two thinner layers to make four.
  10. Whip cream to soft peaks.
  11. To assemble cake place one layer on a serving plate and cover with a third of the berries and juices and top berries with a third of the whipped cream. Repeat with next two layers and topping off with the fourth layer. Add the smaller bowl of berries, not crushed, on top of the cake. Chill for 1 hour before serving. The berry juice will soak into the cake layers somewhat and make for a delicious dessert. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving. If you happen to have any “sad” leftovers…then cover and chill cake up to 2 days.

Ruby Red Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling

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I like to make things. I’m pretty sure that is one of the reasons I ended up being a food stylist by trade and a jack-of-all-trades by nature. Making “beauty” is really what all my
“making” obsessions are about. Beauty that is organic & natural, beauty to look at, beauty to use every day, beauty that you can eat, beauty that is often an ode to times past, times in the future, or times that never were.

Such is this cake. A riff on the classic “Victoria Sponge Cake”, an ode to a time of lawn parties, women strolling across green parks in white dresses, croquet games where men wore bowler hats & seersucker suits. To a time when cakes were special, beautiful and meaningful.

Here is how you make my “Ruby Red Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling”

Shopping list: 2 pints of small strawberries, 1 pint of whipping cream, 1 carton of mascarpone cheese, 1 lemon, super-fine sugar or regular granulated sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, self-rising flour, 5 eggs, salt, parchment paper, oil to grease pans

Make it:

1. Preferably use local Spring strawberries, (these ruby red beauties came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market), 2 pints rinsed & drained, caps removed. Leave berries whole unless they are large, then cut in half. Set aside.

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2. To make this very easy sponge-cake you will need 5 large eggs separated, 3/4 cup superfine sugar (if you don’t have then pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor for a few seconds to make your own), 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour sifted with a pinch of salt.

3. Grease & line two 8 or 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Whisk egg yolks & sugar together until a pale yellow.  Using a stand or hand mixer whip egg whites until stiff.  Whisk egg whites into yolks. Gently sprinkle sifted flour over eggs in batches and fold into eggs using a large metal spoon until all the flour is mixed in.

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5. Divide batter between two prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cake layers are light golden brown  & cooked in the middle. Remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks.

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6. Mix 1 cup or container of marcarpone cheese, which is slightly sweet,  with the juice & zest of half a lemon. Blend well.

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8. Place one cooled cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread lemon mascarpone on top. Arrange half the berries over &  gently press them into the cheese. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar.

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9.  Top layer of berries with the second cake layer. Whip one cup of heavy cream with 2 tbsp powdered sugar & 1 tbsp vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of second cake layer. Top whipped cream with the remaining berries. Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired.

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11. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.  I made this cake from start to finish in 1 hour. It keeps well lightly covered for a day or two in the fridge.

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Notice the texture of the cake….very sponge-like!

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Making this cake will create a sense of well-being, make you think about the historical context of baking cakes, allow you to use fresh, local, just picked strawberries that taste like berries should.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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“Victoria Sponge & Strawberries”

“Old Fashioned Victoria Sponge Cake with Tennessee Strawberries”

This Saturday I bought a few pints of fresh picked Tennessee Strawberries at the Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market. This year’s crop is especially abundant and sweet. These small juicy  berries call out for a light sponge cake &  freshly whipped cream slightly seasoned with vanilla & sugar. I don’t often make desserts but as we were going to a dinner party and I was asked to bring dessert I wanted to make a special treat that would be a take off on the classic strawberry shortcake, but lighter. This dessert is easy to make from start to finish and is a stunner. It’s like eating air with a dash of sweetness.


To make a simple light sponge cake you will need the following:


2 sticks butter softened to room temp, use a little to grease cake pans (JD’s Dairy butter worked great for this cake.)

1 cup superfine sugar

4 eggs

(I used fresh local eggs from McDonalds that I purchased at the Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market as well)

1 3/4 cups self-rising flour & a pinch of salt (White Lily Flour is a good choice)

2 tbsp warm water

1 cup whipping cream + 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp vanilla

2 cups local, sweet strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar for dusting top of cake

To Make the Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease two 8 inch cake pans with butter & line bottom of each with a circle of wax paper.

3. Using a hand mixer cream together the butter & sugar until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Sift flour &  salt over the creamed mixture. Add warm water & beat together until well mixed. Batter is a thick, light & creamy texture.


5. Divide cake mixture evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until cakes are done in the centers. Remove from oven.  Turn cake layer out onto cooling racks until completely cool.

6. Using a serrated knife split each cake into two layers. Use three for this cake. Wrap &  store 4th layer for later in the week when you want to make strawberry shortcakes for two.

7. Whip cream with sugar & vanilla. Place one layer on cake stand or cake plate & cover with half the sweetened whip cream. Top with half of the strawberries.

8. Add 2nd cake layer and press down slightly. Spread remaining half of whipped cream over cake & top with remaining sliced berries.

9. Place 3rd cake layer on top of berries pressing down slightly. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar. Place in refrigerator to chill until ready to serve. This cake is best assembled a couple of hours before serving. Serve cut into wedges with additional dusting of confectioner’s sugar if desired.


This type of cake was originally called a “Victoria Sponge Cake” named for Queen Victoria. It sounds fancy, looks fancy but is one of the easiest desserts to make to show off Spring Strawberries.

A bit about Victoria Sponge Cake & Self-Rising Flour from Wikipedia:

Victoria sponge

The Victoria sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria, who favoured a slice of the sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It is often referred to simply as sponge cake, though it contains additional fat. A traditional Victoria sponge consists of raspberry jam and whipped double cream or vanilla cream, just jam is referred to as a ‘jam sponge’ and most certainly not a Victoria sponge. The jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge cakes; the top of the cake is not iced or decorated.

Self-Rising Flour

Leavening agents are used with some flours, especially those with significant gluten content, to produce lighter and softer baked products by embedding small gas bubbles. Self-raising (or self-rising) flour is sold premixed with chemical leavening agents. The added ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the flour which aids a consistent and even rise in baked goods. This flour is generally used for preparing scones, biscuits, muffins, etc. This type of flour was invented by Henry Jones and patented in 1845. Plain flour can be used to make a type of self-rising flour although the flour will be more coarse. Self-raising flour is typically composed of the following ratio:

  • 1 cup flour;  1 teaspoon baking powder;  a pinch to ½ teaspoon salt
  • “Pick Your Own”

There are lots of farms in Middle Tennessee where you can pick-your-own berries for freezing, making jams & jellies or for creating your own desserts. Just go to the website listed below to find a farm near you.

http://www.pickyourown.org/TNmiddle.htm

eat more cake…….