I was playing with the ginger cake recipe to see if I could turn it into a plain sponge. I could! Except that I turned it into an orange sponge. Remove the zest, however, and you have a nice plain sponge that can serve as the base for a trifle, or make a great birthday cake. Like the ginger cake, this is better the day after it’s made so if you can, bake it in advance and let it develop into perfection. (Or, if serving it in the evening, make it first thing in the morning. If time’s an issue – don’t worry. It’s still good on the first day.)
Moist, with a great crumb, and great flavour, this sponge is perfect with coffee and makes a nice dessert too. I like using almond oil instead of vegetable oil because of its neutral flavour. The sponge works without oil too, but not as well.
Serves: 8. Prep: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 35 minutes.
Stores: For up to 4 days well wrapped in the kitchen; for up to 3 months frozen. (Slice before freezing. Pieces defrost in about 10 minutes at room temp. Or 10 seconds in a microwave.)
- 350 grams plain flour
- 225 grams caster sugar (white or golden)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 0.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Zest from half an orange (if you have a zester: great! If not, use a sharp knife to shave off the zest and then chop it finely.)
- 250 millilitre orange juice
- 60 grams golden syrup
- 100 grams almond or vegetable oil
- Citrus zester, or sharp knife and chopping board
- Measuring jug
- Teaspoon measure, or teaspoon
- Electric whisk (or whisk)
- 23 centimetre cake tin, or loaf tin
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C fan, 200C standard.
- In the bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
- In a measuring jug, measure out the juice. Heat (in a pan) on the stove or (in the measuring jug) in a microwave oven.
- Add the syrup and oil to the hot juice.
- Pour the juice into the dry ingredients and beat into a smooth batter with the electric whisk (or elbow grease).
- Pour the batter into the cake tin.
- Put into the oven and leave for 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick before removing.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting and serving.
- To come: I make a carrot cake version of this, and an apple cake version, both of which are different enough to warrant their own recipe. Saying that…
- Down the orange: Leave the zest out and add 0.5 teaspoon vanilla essence to the oil instead. The vanilla essence cancels out the very subtle flavour imparted by the juice on its own and you end up with a vanilla sponge.
- Up the orange: Get the juice by juicing oranges, then chop the flesh of one finely and add to the mix for more orange flavour and texture.
- Glaze it: mix half a cup of icing sugar with a tea spoon of orange juice and glaze the cake.
- Live dangerously: use another juice for a change in colour and flavour. What juice you use has a relatively subtle effect on the flavour.
- Nutty stuff: Leave the zest out, use hazelnut oil instead of almond oil and add a couple of handfuls of chopped hazelnuts to the dry ingredients.