In my humble opinion, sponge cakes are ridiculously hard to make. There are so many tiny elements that can foil it! You have to have room temperature ingredients, clean bowls, clean tray, fresh baking powder, a fast whisker, a deft touch with the spatula, an evenly heated oven! And even then, sometimes the sponge will come out flat and sad. Today I took particular care. I measured out my ingredients into little bowls, I triple sifted my flour. And then what did I do? Failed to notice the oven had turned off. I tried to bake a cake in a turned off oven. I tried for twenty minutes without realizing.
After much swearing and fixing of oven I did manage to convect some heat but I’m afraid the sponge lost some of its puffiness in the process. It came out looking…a little sad. And incredibly yellow! I used organic free range eggs from the markets and the yolks were positively orange.
Rolling the sponge is easiest whilst it’s still warm. If you decide to fill it with something heat-sensitive, such as nutella, ganache, buttercream etc, roll the sponge up between two sheets of baking paper whilst still warm, and then re-roll it once cold with the filling inside.
As my first attempt at a swiss roll, jam swirl, roly poly or whatever it may be, I decided to keep things absolutely simple. The sponge is a Women’s Weekly adjusted recipe with the addition of vanilla extract, and the jam is the plum jam I made last week. Next time I want to perhaps put some orange zest in the sponge, or cinnamon. And if it’s eaten straight away cream inside! So many tempting variations.
Plum Jam Swirl: Adapted from Woman’s Weekly
3 eggs, separated
95g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour, sifted 3 times
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar plus extra for dusting the board
2 tablespoons hot milk + a dash of vanilla essence
1 large jar of berry, plum or fig jam
Heat oven to 180C (350F) and grease and line a 25cm by 30cm baking tray carefully. In a stand mixer, beat on medium your egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add tablespoons of caster sugar until completely combined. While the mixer is running, add your egg yolks one by one and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy (about ten minutes). Pour your hot milk down the side and gently sift in flour. Fold together using a spatula quickly and spread on your pan. Bake for around 8 minutes, until golden on top and puffy.
To assemble, have a board ready with baking paper dusted with sugar draped over it. Flip your sponge on to the board and with a serrated knife cut off the crispy edges so they’re even. Spread a thick layer of jam over the sponge, leave 1 inch on each side. Make a dent with a large knife about 1cm from the edge closest from you, but don’t cut through. Using this incision, gently roll the sponge using the baking paper to guide you with both hands. Leave to sit until cool. Serves around 8, eat the day you make it or alternatively freeze it. Yay!