A few months ago a strange urge came over me to learn to sew. I’m not talking furry pencil cases and cushions, I’m talking the real thing; dresses, jackets, maybe curtains if I fancied something easy. It couldn’t be that hard, my Nanna was a bespoke tailor(ess) so it’s in the blood you see.
20 hours of teaching and £170 on tuition and materials and I’m officially remedial when it comes to all things sewing related. Mr B had to thread the borrowed machine for me, I cut the sleeves of a babygro too short and the dress I’ve made gapes in some rather compromising areas, or maybe that’s the pregnancy induced gargantuan breasts? The borrowed sewing machine has gone back to the lovely Alison and I’ve instructed Mr B to stop me taking up any other craft related hobbies in future. My other Grandma taught me how to make a simple sponge cake, so sticking to what I know, here’s her recipe which is traditional and I think, foolproof. It also serves as a good thank you present for people who kindly lend you their sewing machine. Everyone loves a sponge after all.
- 4 eggs
- caster sugar, either white or golden
- butter or marg at room temp (I carefully softened my butter in the microwave and managed not to create a swimming golden mess this time.)
- pinch of salt if not using salted butter
- self raising flour, sifted
- flavouring – 1 tsp vanilla essence/the zest of one lemon/1 tsp of rosewater etc
- filling fodder – jam, cream, fruit, buttercream, whatever you fancy really
Preheat the oven to Gas 4 and grease two sandwich tins with butter, then line with greaseproof paper. I bloody hate doing this but like a lot of boring things, it’s unfortunately essential.
Weigh the 4 eggs in their shells. make a note of the grams/oz. Then weigh out the same amount of flour, caster sugar and butter, keeping them all separate. Using a wooden spoon/hand held mixerstand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until lighter in colour than when you started and creamy looking.
Beat the eggs for 2 mins and then add a little at a time to the mixture, beating as you add each dribble. Some people seem to be able to add more than a dribble and not end up with a curdled mixture, but not me. (If it does curdle add a couple of spoons of the flour and whizz together.) Continue adding the beaten eggs until they’re all whizzed into the mixture. Add the salt if you need it and also the flavouring, then fold in the flour using a metal spoon. Spoon into the two tins and smooth with a knife then cook in the middle of the oven for about 20 mins. The tops should be golden and springy when you touch them. Remove from the oven and pop on a wire rack for 5 mins, then de-tin them and leave to cool back on the rack.
Once cool you may need to carefully slice the peak off one of the cakes in order for the bottom sandwich to hold the filling and top cake ‘lid’ fit easily. Otherwise the top cake may balance in a precarious fashion. I ate the discarded lid of mine whilst standing next to the fridge and debating which jam to use. After some poor calculations I ended up using both strawberry and raspberry. So a straspberry filling I guess. I can reliably inform you you will need about half a regular jar of jam to fill a regular sized cake.
The recipe is foolproof (according to my Grandma) as you can scale up or down and the ratios always remain the same due to the weighing technique. I guess this method was used before eggs were sold in large, medium or small sizes. It tastes lovely made with some lemon zest and filled with lemon curd. Or fresh raspberries and whipped cream and very good too. I also like to use a tea strainer to add a dusting of icing sugar to the top. It hides a multitude of sins.