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BackstoryA delicious, light cake we made in class this past weekend at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC.
The typical Italian sponge cake probably originated in Naples during the rule of the Bourbons, hence the name "Spanish Bread". It is a very fine-grained cake layer due to the addition of the cornstarch. In Italy, potato starch would be more common, but cornstarch gives identical results (from ICE Culinary Handbook - Pastry Module 4).
Makes 4 cakes that can each be cut into 2 or 3 layers.
- Unsalted butter for greasing the pan
- 6 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
- 12 large eggs, separated
- 1 TBSP vanilla extract
- 18 ounces granulated sugar, divided
- 6 ounces cornstarch
- Pinch salt
- 1. Butter and line 4 8-inch round pans (2 inches deep) with parchment discs.
- 2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with the vanilla extract. Whisk in 9 ounces of the sugar and continue whisking until light and frothy, about 5 minutes.
- 3. Combine the flour and cornstarch into a bowl and sift once to aerate.
- 4. In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites with the salt until they hold a soft peak on medium speed of the electric mixer. Increase the speed and gradually add the remaining 9 ounces of sugar. Continue to whipe the egg whites until they hold a firm peak.
- 5. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites.
- 6. Sift the flour and cornstarch mixture over the egg mixture, folding it in in 3 additions. Do not over-mix or the batter will deflate.
- 7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes oruntil will risen and firm when pressed gently with the palm of hand.
- 8. Immediately loosen the layers from the side of the pan with a small knife or spatula. Invert the layers onto cardboards, leaving the paper stuck to it. Turn the layers right side up and cool them on a rack.
- 9. Double-wrap the layers in plastic and refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze them.
- Flavor the batter with the grated zest of 1 orange or lemon or 1 tablespoon of Anisette.
- Ensure the cake is level and remove the parchment round from the botttom.
- Whip heavy cream to medium peaks and chill until use. Split cake into two or three layers and coat each layer with a simple syrup or liquor before filling with layers of cream and strawberries (together). Once the top layer has been added, coat with whipped cream or buttercream of your choosing and decorate with slice strawberries and sugared almonds.