Why the Adaptable Sponge, you might ask? Well, the weights of the basic ingredients of this cake depend on the weight of the eggs, whole and in their shells. This means that you never have to worry about whether your eggs are small or large, because the other ingredient amounts are simply ‘adapted’ to suit. Your calculations might look a little strange, but they will work perfectly. Rather than this Adaptable Sponge recipe, for fruit or fruit and nut cakes the Basic Recipe: ‘Knock Up’ Fruit Cake should be used either in its original or an adapted version.
This useful method has been handed down to me: I learned it from my mother, who learned it from hers … I had not used it for some time, but I checked the method with mum and can see it being much used now it has been resurrected. We use it particularly when making a Victoria Sponge type of cake (but obviously not a fatless sponge) where one or more of the layers are sandwiched together. It can also be used to make a larger flavoured cake or it can have other items added. Additionally, this is always the recipe I use if I am making sponge topping for a hot fruit dessert. (See Sweet Crumble Mixtures for fruit suggestions.) Some alternative uses and adaptations of this basic method are listed after the recipe. If you use The Adaptable Sponge method to make a cake, then please consider sharing your version with me and others via the comments below – thank you.
The Adaptable Sponge
(Multiply ingredients according to the number of eggs used)
Soft Margerine or Butter
White sugar, caster if available but not absolutely necessary
a pinch of salt (can be omitted if you wish)
A little milk
1. Pre-heat oven and line any tins to be used.
2. Weigh the egg or eggs while still in their shells. Using the figure on the scales weigh into three separate bowls exactly the same amount of fat, exactly the same amount of sugar and exactly the same amount of flour, plus a little more: I usually add about 1tbsp flour extra per egg. (Obviously you can do this using either imperial or metric measurements, but I suggest that you do not mix the two.)
3. Proceed as normal for cake making: Beat the fat and sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Break the eggs into a small cup and beat in the beaten egg a little at a time. Essences or extracts, such as vanilla, almond or rum, can also be added according to personal taste.
4. Sift the flour and salt (if using). For a chocolate cake remove some flour and replace it with cocoa powder: about 1tbsp per egg. Ground spices, if desired, are added as an extra along with the flour. Gently fold in.
5. Thin with a little milk: about 1tbsp per egg (strong cold coffee, orange or lemon juice give a different flavour).
6. Spoon into a prepared tin and bake: temperature 180oC/350oF/Gas 4. I used 170oC/325oF/Gas 3 for the deeper tin to allow the cake to cook thoroughly. When cooked (when well risen, around 40-60 minutes, depending on thickness) turn onto a rack to cool. A skewer inserted into the centre of the baked cake should come out clean. Finish as you wish: dusted with icing sugar or cocoa, topped with melted chocolate or glace icing (and possibly decorated as well), two or more layers sandwiched together with cream or buttercream, glazed with a sugar syrup mixture while still hot (see Sylvia’s Lemon Drizzle Bread), or simply left plain.
Further uses and adaptations of this basic recipe:
(Please leave comments about the following recipes with the recipe at the link given rather than here – thanks!)
Fragrant Chocolate Orange Marble Cake (pictured)
(More uses and adaptations to follow)