Of milk and sponges

August 31, 2009

This is a very British sort of recipe.

I memorized this recipe early on when I was a teenager, growing up in Jos. It was not uncommon for me to show up at the home of a family friend and be greeted with the words: “ah Ruth, we have flour and eggs. Please make us a cake!” A girl learns to have a quick crowd pleaser tucked under her sleeve. I have made this cake under dire circumstances, in Nigeria with no electricity, a dodgy gas stove, armed only with a wooden spoon, powdered milk and a tin of margarine. The results have still been wonderful.
The whole cake takes about 10 minutes to prepare, and is delicious served with tea, or as a light desert after a heavy meal (paired with some fresh berries and cream you can’t beat it).  The recipe has very little oil or shortening and is thus exceeding light and fluffy. It travels well for dinner parties too. I sometimes substitute lemon and lemon peel for vanilla. I served this recently, filled with a bit of apricot preserves that I had sitting in the back of the fridge.

Hot Milk Sponge Cake
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 scant cup sugar
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350.
Whisk together flour and baking powder. Beat eggs with electric mixer for 2 minutes till thick and lemon coloured. Slowly add in the sugar and beat another 3-4 minutes. Add dry ingredients and beat just till combined. Meanwhile heat milk in pan till hot, add butter and heat till melted. Do not allow to boil. Add hot milk butter mixture and vanilla. Beat till smooth.
Pour into wax or parchment lined, or just buttered and floured 9” cake pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool on a rack—invert onto a platter. If desired, split cake in half horizontally and spread a thin layer of your favourite jam onto the lower half. Replace the top half and gently sift powdered sugar over the top of the cake.


2 Responses to “Of milk and sponges”

  1. Kristen Says:

    Ruth, this is exactly why I like to describe you as the type of cook who can whip up something delicious from the contents of any refrigerator.

    Also, it reminds me of the homey recipe for French-style yogurt cake from Orangette…all the ingredients are measured in “yogurt jars” rather than cups. I’m thinking it may be the one I try to memorize for dire circumstances.

    • brownstonebaking Says:

      Absolutely recommend memorizing a recipe or two. A little bit of this and a little bit of that goes a long way. 🙂 I’ll have to check out the yogurt cake, sounds excellent. Sometimes I try to imagine a life without dairy products and all I can say is that I think it would be very difficult indeed!

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