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Sponge Cake

Vivienne Kalman

I make this cake for Shabbat, Jewish holidays, and other festive occasions. My family loves it. It is light and fluffy, perfect after a heavy meal. Serve with berries and whipped cream for a yummy (dairy) dessert.
Food Editor's note: My mother is being modest. She makes this cake dozens of times a year, upon request, for all branches of the family. It is a wonderful cake to bring to someone, because it can be eaten plain, or dressed up in many ways for even the most elegant of occasions. You can serve it simply, dusted with confectioner's sugar, or, as we do on Rosh Hashanah, pass it around with huge bowls of strawberries. The cake is not too sweet by itself and has no oil or shortening -- the only fat is from the eggs, and although there may seem to be a lot of them, the recipe makes 16 good servings. So as far as cakes go, this is one of the healthy ones. Enjoy!

6 large eggs, separated (preferably at room temperature)
1 whole egg
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice (fresh-squeezed or not-from-concentrate)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

This recipe goes more quickly if you have two mixers, so you don't have to wash and dry the beaters for the different ingredients. You can use a hand mixer for the egg yolk mixture, but the whites beat up more quickly and easily (and higher) with a stand mixer, like a KitchenAid. For this cake you need a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. The baked cake must hang upside down in its pan on a tall bottle until it is cool. Make sure you locate a bottle with a long, narrow mouth, over which the pan will fit, BEFORE you put the batter in the cake pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove all but the bottom rack.
In a separate small container, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Place yolks in a large bowl. Place whites in an even larger bowl (preferably from a KitchenAid or other stand mixer) that has been thoroughly washed and dried. No crumbs or grease allowed!
Beat the 6 yolks and 1 whole egg on medium speed until thick and light yellow in color (at least 5 minutes). Add 1 cup sugar very slowly on low speed while at the same time alternately adding the orange juice and vanilla. Beat on low speed 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients to the yolk batter. Beat on low speed until just blended.
Wash and dry the beaters thoroughly or switch to the second mixer. Beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar at the highest speed (or on speed 8 in a KitchenAid) until frothy. Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar. Continue beating until stiff (the whites will be glossy and stand in peaks that are firm, but still be soft and elastic).
Make a well in the center of the stiff egg whites. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the well. Fold the yolk mixture and egg whites together until well blended. DO NOT STIR. (You may also do this on the lowest speed in the KitchenAid).
Pour the combined mixture into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Run a knife through the batter to eliminate air pockets. Bake at 350 degrees on the lowest oven rack for 40-50 minutes. If using a convection oven, bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a long toothpick or wooden skewer. Make sure the cake is thoroughly dry. Don't worry if the top is cracked.
Immediately upon removing from the oven, turn the pan upside down and place over the mouth of a soda or wine bottle (or other tall bottle with a long, narrow mouth). Leave hanging until the cake is completely cool, and then remove from the pan by using a serrated knife to separate the cake from all edges. Serve (some say bottom side up, others like the top, sometimes cracked, surface showing), dusted with confectioners sugar or decorated with berries.
This cake makes anywhere from 10 to 18 servings, depending on appetites.
For encouragement or assistance, you can contact me through my daughter, the Food Editor.

Sponge Cake


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