Summer Baking, or: Why Sponge Rolls Make Me Happy

One of the things I miss about Adelaide is not being able to make cakes for my friends. So when we were invited to a BBQ last night, I jumped at the opportunity, smiling with glee. The cake pictured above had already lost six fat slices (I was too excited by the prospect of eating it to remember to take a photo), but you get the gist. The remaining two and a half slices didn’t last for long, either.

Yes there were six of us – I didn’t eat it all by myself.

Sponge rolls are one of my Grandma’s specialties. She makes two different sorts: one with passion-fruit mixed with the cream, and one with strawberries and cream. Strawberries and cream in a sponge roll are amazing. There’s something about the slippery texture of the strawberries contrasting with the smooth cream and the cloud-like cake… Heaven. I was immensely proud of myself when I mastered the art of making these, and I’m sure in the old Adelaide days it secured me many invitations to dinner. But M doesn’t really like strawberries, so devoted girlfriend that I am, I bought raspberries instead (and what fat juicy raspberries they were). I’ve used raspberries before, and it was good, but not as good. I was musing on this as I carried the ingredients back along the river to our flat, and I was suddenly inspired. I would squash half the raspberries and mix them with the cream! It would be amazing!

Now, because the recipe is so simple and so short, I’m going to share it with you. There are only three ingredients:

3 eggs
1/2 cup castor sugar (normal sugar works too; you just have to beat it for longer)
1/2 cup self-raising flour

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric hand beater until the mixture goes light, creamy and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved, in my grandma’s words: ‘the mixture should be quite firm in that you can make a pattern with a stream of it if you hold the beaters up’. Nowhere near as thick as you’d get with meringue, but you’ll notice a definite difference in colour and consistency. Then you stir the flour in very gently with a metal spoon. Pour into a sponge roll tin lined with greased baking paper, and cook in a moderate oven (that’s about 180C) for twenty minutes. (I didn’t have a sponge roll tin, but used a large baking tray.)

Tip out onto a tea-towel sprinkled with sugar, and roll up while it’s hot. After leaving it for a minute or so, you can unroll it to let it cool down. When it’s completely cool, spread with your desired combination of whipped cream and fruit, and roll it up again!

Here it is, cooling on the tea-towel.

So why does it make me happy? They are very quick and simple to make, but you have to pay attention and do each step properly – the whipping, the folding in the flour, the baking, because the joy of these things is that they’re mainly air. If you make several in a row you can experiment with oven temperatures and baking times and get them just right… And you should have seen the glossy glowy mixture of the squashed raspberries before I stirred them into the cream along with a sprinking of vanilla sugar. I tried to show them to M but he laughed and said it was more fun watching me, and that if I smiled any more my head would explode. Here it is before I rolled it up. Just for you, I uploaded this picture in full resolution, so if you click on it, you’ll get the most delicious close-up of the raspberries and cream. Go on. I know you want to.

7 thoughts on “Summer Baking, or: Why Sponge Rolls Make Me Happy

  1. Cake again Mel! It looks absolutely gorgeous and I could almost eat it off the page. I’m going to have to try that recipe. Fantastic, I’m drooling!

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