Given recent discussions about food, I thought that it must surely be time for some baking blogging. Chocolate sponge roll is one of my favourite desserts: it’s easy to make, comparatively cheap, and it can be very low fat, or outrageously high fat, if that’s the way you want to go. It’s easy enough to find pictures of high fat versions, but I find them off-putting. So here’s how to make a low fat but nevertheless exceedingly delicious chocolate sponge roll.
Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees Celsius (about 400 Fahrenheit), and get your baking tin ready. I use a sponge roll tray that is 38cm long (15 inches) by 25cm wide (10 inches). You need to either line it with baking paper, or grease and flour it.
To line it with baking paper, cut a piece of paper bigger than the tray, then fold a margin on each side of the paper, so that the folded paper is the same size as the tray. Then you can either just nestle the paper into the tray, fold the margins up to line the sides, and scrunch the corners so that they fit, or you can do a proper mitred corner.
To make a mitred corner, while holding the folded margin down on one edge of the paper down, push your thumb into the other margin, to make what looks like a little tent for your thumb. Then push the tent down with your fingers, to form a squashed triangle of paper. Do this on all four corners. It doesn’t matter which way your squashed triangle goes: we’re lining a cake tin here, not doing fabulous origami.
Then unfold each margin so that the side stands at right angles to the base, and pinch the triangle around the corner. Nestle the folded case into the tin, and you’re done. The paper case won’t stand up perfectly, nor will it look beautiful, but it will do the job nicely. In any case, I don’t think it matters too much with this recipe, because you will be cutting the crusts off, so the cake won’t be ruined if the corners turn out to be a bit wonky.
If you don’t have baking paper on hand, then grease the tray with butter. When it is greased, put about 1 tablespoon of flour into it, and shake it about gently, so that the surface is coated with flour. Then turn the tray upside down, and tap it smartly, to get rid of the excess flour. It is not a good idea to do this inside – you will wake the baby and end up with flour all over your kitchen.
To make the mix,start with three eggs which you beat until they become soft and frothy. Ideally, you will be doing this in your wonderful Kenwood mixer, which is the kitchen appliance you would throw off the sinking boat last of all, but you can do it perfectly well using a hand egg beater.
Then, slowly, bit by bit, add 2/5ths of a cup of sugar and beat well. You can use caster sugar if you prefer, but ordinary old white sugar is fine. I don’t have a 1/5 cup measure, so I just get my 1/2 cup measure, and try to remove about 1/5 (think through the fractions: removing 1/5 from a half will leave you with 4/5 of one half, which is equal to 2/5 of a whole). If you want to be exceedingly accurate, then remember that a cup is 250mls, so a half cup is 125mls, and 2/5 of a cup is 100 mls. Measure a half cup of sugar, and take out 5 teaspoons (5mls each). I get my daughters to do this: it’s a very practical way to help them to understand fractions and parts and the relationship of parts to wholes, and there’s nothing quite like a little mereology to give your mind a work out.
Keep on beating. Beat some more. Then do it again. You are aiming to get the egg and sugar mix to the ribbon stage, which means that when you pull the beater out of the mix, a soft ribbon of the mix drapes down and holds its shape for a while. Don’t cut the beating short – you want your sponge to be light and fluffy, and the way to do that is by having a light, fluffy egg and sugar mix.
Next, sift 2/5 cup of cornflour, 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 tablespoon plain flour, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Sift the dry ingredients a couple of times, because you want them to be very finely grained when you add them to the egg mix.
Then very gently and carefully, incorporate the dry ingredients into the egg mix. Fold them in by hand, going round and round the mixing bowl in a figure 8 with your spatula. The idea is to get the dry ingredients mixed through without losing the fluffiness of the egg mix. You can use your wonderful Kenwood mixer to do this, but it’s not really advisable – you tend to lose the fluffiness.
Gently spread the cake mix into your prepared tray, and bake it for about 10 to 12 minutes.
When you take the cake out of the oven, turn it out of the tin top side down onto a clean, dry tea towel. If you have used baking paper, very gently peel the paper away from the cake. If you greased and floured your tray, you will need to run a knife around the edge of the cake, then keeping the cake as close to the tea towel as possible, use the knife to slowly peel the cake out of the tin and face down onto the tea towel.
Cut off the crusts (about 2cm – 1/2 inch), and give them to your daughters for a snack. You need to cut the crusts off, so that the cake will roll up easily. Then very gently, so that the cake doesn’t crack, roll it up in the tea towel, so that the tea towel is layered into the cake. If you don’t do this, the roll will stick together, and you will end up with chocolate sponge sticky mess. Leave the roll to cool on a rack until you are ready to use it.
When you are ready to serve the cake, unroll it on the tea towel, and fill it. The filling is entirely up to you, and at this stage, if you really want to, you can add whipped cream. I prefer to spread raspberry jam (jelly) over the cake, and then add what the strangelings call secret ingredient x.
Which is just a bar of flakey chocolate, crumbled over the jam. Then carefully, reroll the cake, put it onto the serving plate, and dust it with icing sugar (or decorate it with whipped cream, if you really want to). Slice it using a bread knife, so that it keeps its shape. I serve the cake with fresh berries, and yoghurt or cream on the side.
I prefer to let people put their own yoghurt or cream on, so that I am not “forcing” them to have all the saturated fats, and they can regulate their own intake. And that’s how you can keep the heavy fat content of this dessert down to a reasonable level.
As for cost, I estimate that this cake costs about $2 to make. Adding the cream and yoghurt and jam and berries and secret ingredient x might add another $6 to $8 or so, depending on the season, and how much you decide to add. You could serve this with just jam and yoghurt, and that would make the total cost about $4, which is not too bad at all.