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How to make the perfect sponge cake

Sponge cake isn’t usually at the top of people’s favorite dessert list. His name does not move the heart, and so often it is dry and tasteless. But, when properly prepared, the sponge cake is tender and bouncy with a cloudy crumb that skillfully absorbs the flavors of anything it’s paired with, like whipped cream, coffee, or fruit.

With so few functional ingredients (eggs, fat, sugar, flour), the sponge cake literally rises and falls according to its proportions. Change one thing, and the balance can be upset. It took dozens of eggs and double-digit attempts, but this recipe strikes the perfect balance between structure and tenderness. It’s a hybrid of chiffon and sponge cakes, but it has the most in common with the oil-based sponge cakes that are commonly found in Asian bakeries.

Just as the proportion of ingredients is crucial, so too is the way they are combined. This recipe streamlines the process as much as possible, requiring only a few bowls and a hand mixer. (Not required: Sift, in a bain-marie or cook a sugar syrup.)

Below are some of the basic concepts and techniques for a successful sponge cake. And while the process is sensitive, the recipe is solid, if not easy. Sponge cake does not need a syrup or aroma to be palatable, although it does feel right at home in trifles, layered cakes, roulades, and tres leches. Just think of it as the perfect base for all your stone fruit and berry summer desserts.

Non-stick cookware appears to offer additional convenience over regular cookware. But this is not really the case. The dark synthetic coating that makes cookware non-stick absorbs more heat and often overcook the sides and bottom before the center is fully cooked. (This is why most bakers prefer lighter colored bakeware made from anodized aluminum.) Preventing them from rising properly and causing them to collapse immediately after cooling. This is also why you don’t want to grease the pan, as the cake needs to be able to grip the sides as it rises.

Like the chiffon cake, this sponge cake requires oil as a fat. Butter is solid at room temperature, so a butter cake will firm up when cooled. An oil-based sponge, however, remains flexible at any temperature and resists drying, so you can store it in the refrigerator for several days and it will retain a supple texture. Olive oil or any neutral oil will work here.

The sponge cake batter is filled with tiny air bubbles from whipped egg whites and yolks. As the cake bakes, these air bubbles heat up and expand, giving the cake a light, spongy texture. At the same time, a critical mass of flour must be present to produce gluten (which happens when two proteins in the flour interact with water), as gluten creates the internal scaffolding of a cake. Cake flour is the right flour for the job. It has less protein than all-purpose flour, which means it produces a relatively low gluten matrix (and therefore a tender cake), but it’s still enough to support the airy crumb.

A stand mixer offers more power than a hand mixer, but a hand mixer has one major advantage here: it allows you to use multiple bowls simultaneously. A stand mixer is fixed, so when you need to whisk or mix several components – like you do with whites and yolks in a sponge cake – you need to mix one, transfer it to a separate bowl, and then wash the bowl of the mixer. before continuing. With a hand mixer, you can also use larger bowls of any size, which makes folding much easier and you can move the beaters around for even mixing.

When egg whites are beaten with sugar, the protein in the egg unfolds and binds together to form a semi-stable foam called a meringue. When making meringue, sugar is usually added to egg whites after they have been beaten to soft peaks, but adding it at the very beginning prevents the proteins from unfolding completely, resulting in a more froth. fine with smaller air bubbles. In the sponge cake, this type of meringue prevents the formation of many larger air bubbles, which would expand too quickly in the oven and burst before the cake is set, causing it to fall. Thinner mousse with more uniform bubbles results in a cake with a more uniform texture.

When a sponge cake comes out of the oven, it is extremely delicate and must release steam as it cools to set completely. The weight of the sponge would cause it to collapse on itself if left standing, forming a crater. To avoid this, the sponge cake should be immediately turned over while it is still in the pan and left to cool completely upside down. The ungreased surfaces of the pan act as handles for the cake and ensure it doesn’t fall on your counter when turned over.

Recipes: Sponge cake | Raspberry and cream roulade | Strawberry and Cream Layer Cake

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