Rant No 1: I hate Sponge

I hate sponge and I think butter cream is the antichrist of the patisserie world –

Don’t get me wrong if I was served a cute little cup cake from a cute little orphan I wouldn’t say no, rather smile politely and eat its devilish delights, just as simply as if I was at afternoon tea with the Queen and was served a cake smothered in the evil stuff by one of her corgis – I’d plunge in and eat it all up. After all I was brought up to eat everything on my plate wether I liked it or not.

It all happened last year,  there I was in my 40’s  & was asked to judge the village bake off. I stood in the house next to the church looking down on 15 cakes or more, all looking sexy in a cake like seductive way, some oozing with whipped creme Chantilly, while others glistened with fudge sauce and all decorated one way or another to entice the weakest skinniest “oh, I can’t i’m on a diet” kind of person.

I took my cake judging very seriously, setting out a graph, highlighted with a 10 point system inc. soggy bottom, decoration, balance of flavours and good bake amongst others. I would taste and examine every bake and judge each of the 10 sections out of 10 – 10 being excellent in every way. The closest to 100 was the winner.

Half way through and not a single soggy bottom in site, I pondered for a minute while I wiped my serrated cake knife for the tenth time – ‘I really, really don’t like sponge’ I thought to my self and then carried on regardless – but 15 or so cake test bites later I realised that I’d managed to get to my late 40’s never really liking cake, always fancying it but never really truly enjoying it.

It was only some weeks later, after that fateful life changing day that a Victoria sponge was pipped to the post by a Chocolate Guinness cake that I began to psych analyse my sponge hating feelings. You see its not the cake thats offensive its the boring old sponge, after all its just eggs, sugar and flour that make up a genoise while the edition of butter make a cake base – both sponges and both totally dull.  You see it’s not the decorations or the tasty ganaches or the cream squishing out of the middle, its just the sponge I’m not amused by.

I mean give me a tray bake any day of the week, like a chocolate brownie gooey in the middle with a crusty coating and oozing with a real chocolate hit – not basic to make and certainly not boring to taste. Give me a lemon curd wedge with a zesty topping that packs a taste sensation, again more ingredients makes a taste sensation or give me a date slice packed in the middle with soft dates on a soft sweet pastry base with a crumbly topping, heaven on a plate or give me a flapjack, syrupy, sticky and jammed with soft dried fruits – – – now my taste buds are not bored.

Then there’s the butter cream – – where to start! You take a product which is pure fat and you blend it with pure sugar you then colour it with a vivid ridiculously horrid colour and splodge an enormous mound on to the top of (here we go) basic boring sponge cup cakes – – so wrong!!! Only a toddler could possibly grab one and lick the living day lights out of it and walk away happy.

There is some exceptions of sponge all but I can only face a small wedge (for the fear of too much sponge) – there’s nothing like a really good Victoria with fresh whipped cream and chopped fresh English strawberries dropping out of the middle. What about a Ginger cake – made with black treacle and oats or a Chocolate fudge cake with the obvious lathered on top. All good cakes, made with a sponge but enriched with extra yumminess. But of course if the sponge isn’t made with love, patience and good knowledge you might as well throw it at a clown. A good cake mix first involves whipping the hell out of the eggs and sugar if making genoise or sugar and butter if making basic sponge, you then need to add your eggs slowly to the well beaten sugar and butter making sure they don’t split – beat,beat, beat – – but when you add the flour only just mix – over worked flour makes a hard tough sponge. Then don’t open the oven when cooking, or you’ll loose the airiness you’ve created. Of course towards the end you can peek and test but if not ready close the oven gently.

And remember why is Lemon Drizzle, Tunisian Orange Cake and Honey Cake so good – – because you pour over a hot flavoured zesty stock syrup on to the hot cake, which permeates through leaving a moister than moist gorgeous cake when cooled.

When is a sponge not a sponge – – when you steam it, phoooooooooor Steamed Syrup Sponge, moist, golden, glistening, rich and deeply delicious in a kind of war years kind of way. Pour on CUSTARD and I’m anyones.

I hate Sponge – – – thats the basic kind.

I hate Butter Cream – – –  thats any kind.

But I love tray bakes and exciting cakes, in-fact I’m going in to the kitchen now to make a delicious tray of oaty, banana and raisin flapjacks. I might even zest an orange in to it – after all I’m not a basic sponge kind of girl.