Recipe adapted from The Cook's Table
Impossibly airy but still moist sponge, heaven-scented rose and raspberry jam, and billowing clouds of softly whipped cream, this is a sponge cake recipe you will return to again and again.
for the jam (makes approx. 1 litre)*
4 T dried culinary rose petals
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1/2 t rosewater (optional)
1 kg raspberries, washed and drained well
750 g caster sugar
juice of one lemon, husks reserved
sterilised glass jars (see note)
sterilised jam funnel (optional)
for the sponge cake
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
7 free-range eggs, separated
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (75 g) plain flour
1/2 cup (75 g) potato flour (or cornflour)
pinch fine sea salt
raspberry and rose jam (recipe below)
300 ml cream, whipped until soft peaks
pure icing sugar (optional), for dusting
dried culinary rose petals (optional), for decorating
* This recipe makes more than you need for the cake, but it keeps very well if stored properly. However, halve the quantities, by all means. You will need to make the jam at least 6 hours ahead of making the cake so that it has time to cool completely (the day before is ideal). Once cool, store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. After opening, store in the fridge and use within a month.
raspberry and rose jam
Preparation time: 25-35 minutes
Make your jam. First, place a small saucer in the freezer (for testing the jam later).
Bring the rose petals and water to boil in a small saucepan. Boil for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. Set aside to steep.
Combine raspberries, sugar, lemon juice and husks (seeds removed or husks tied in muslin for easier removal later) in a large, non-reactive saucepan over a moderate-high heat. Bring to a boil and let it bubble for 15 min before testing.
To test if the jam is set, remove the jam from the heat and place a small amount onto the chilled saucer, Return the saucer to the freezer for a few minutes, then test by dragging your finger through the centre of the jam. If it stays in two distinct halves, the jam is set. If it runs together, return the jam to the heat and boil for another 5 min and test again. Repeat until the setting stage is reached. It shouldn't take longer than 25 min.
Once the jam has reached setting stage, remove it from the heat and stir in the rose 'tea,' (including the petals). Spoon or pour into hot, sterilised jars, seal and invert immediately to create a vacuum seal. Leave until cool and then store in a cool dry place.
Note: To sterilise your jars and jam funnel (if using), first wash in hot, soapy water. Place the jars on a baking tray and place in an oven preheated to 130°C (270°F). Leave for 15 min and remove from the oven. To sterilise the lids and jam funnel, bring a pan of water to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove to the baking tray or a clean tea towel and leave to dry. Once you have sterilised your equipment, it's very important that you don't touch the inside of the jars, lids, or funnel. Use metal tongs and/or oven mits to manipulate them and be careful to only touch the outsides.
Preparation time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Butter, flour and line the base of a 26 cm springform cake tin.
Using an electric mixer or hand-held electric beaters, beat the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla at high speed until the mixture is pale and has tripled in bulk. Sift the flours and salt and fold in gently. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Wash, cool and thoroughly dry the mixer bowl and the whisk. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Vigorously whisk one-third of the egg white into the stiff natter to loosen it, then lightly fold in the rest.
Turn the batter into the cake tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until the cake is light golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Turn off the heat and leave the cake to rest in the oven with the door propped open for 10 minutes. Remove and leave to cool in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Split the cake in half horizontally by carefully working around it with a large serrated knife. The easiest way is to hold the knife still and turn the cake, slowly working towards the centre of the cake as you turn until you have cut all the way through. Spread with the raspberry and rose jam (enough to thickly cover the cake) and then dollop over the softly whipped cream. Place the top half of the cake carefully over and refrigerate one hour before serving to set a little. Remove the cake from the fridge half an hour before serving, dust with icing sugar and scatter with dried rose petals, if desired.
When spreading your jam and cream, don't go all the way to the edges, as the weight of the top cake will mean they spread a little more.
This is a cake fit for a celebration. There are a number of things to celebrate in life at the moment: the relaunch of this blog (still a work in progress), under a different name, the completion of my PhD in September of this year, (pending some revisions, but close enough!), and, as ever, the daily miracle that is my darling daughter, who gives us reason to celebrate every day and for whom this very blog exists. I had plans for another cake for this first post, but I haven't yet got the recipe quite right, and after feeling like I should chuck it all in, remembered this gorgeous cake, which I have already made several times since buying The Cook's Table a couple of years ago. It has served me very well for a few celebratory occasions. It's very fitting actually, as I consider Stephanie Alexander to be one of Australia's many culinary 'mothers,' which is to say, a pioneer, trail-blazer, and role model. Anyone who cooks in this country, whether they know it or not, owes something to food legends like Stephanie Alexander. We are all her progeny in some way! So, as one of the many (culinary) 'daughters' of Stephanie, I pass on this beautiful sponge cake, hoping that you, too, may share it with your family, whether for a celebration or a just comforting afternoon tea.
As Stephanie describes it in The Cook's Table, this recipe produces a sponge "with a rather substantial texture compared with the usual feather-light style sponge cake." Since making this cake, I have to say I really prefer this to other sponge cakes, which can be a little dry for my taste. As Stephanie also notes, it keeps really well in the fridge for several days, so you can justify making this if it's only two or three of you eating! Sponges have always scared me, there's so much mystique around them! Reading some of the traditional recipes can be enough to turn you off making them entirely. This cake, in contrast is really easy to make if you have some experience with baking. Even if you don't, give it a go, the main things to remember are to really beat your egg yolk and sugar mix till it really has tripled in bulk, and then to be very gentle with your whisked egg whites. Handling the eggs properly are what will ensure a sponge with the perfect texture. Stephanie's recipe calls for the addition of rose-geranium leaves, which you place on top of the cake before it bakes. Rose geranium, as its name suggests, has a distinct rose scent and flavour. Unfortunately I couldn't acquire the leaves when I first made the cake and have yet to try it, though am dying to! The rose geranium, however, inspired the rose and raspberry jam. So while I have departed from the original recipe, I hope my version at least respects it's essence. I believe recipes should have room for interpretation, cooking is a living art, so it goes without saying that if roses and raspberries are not your thing, or are not in season at the time, go ahead and make it your own! For a birthday once I filled the sponge with lemon curd and cream, which was also divine. Without doubt, this is my go-to sponge recipe from now on, a template that can be moulded to personal tastes, ingredients, and occasions.
Thank you for reading, and do let me know of you make this cake. If you love it, seek out more of Stephanie's books and recipes, you won't be disappointed. Her years of experience cheffing and cooking, as well as her genuine love of food and the art of hospitality make her both a reliable source of recipes, and a warm, comforting presence in the kitchen as you cook along with her, her witty and perceptive anecdotes adding to the richness of the experience. As we cook, we connect with the traditions and the people who have passed on their knowledge, whether we know them personally or not. This sense of continuity, of passing down rituals and recipes, tales and traditions, is the driving motivation behind The Daughter's Table. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I and my loved ones did.