Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Cake for My Mother

Strawberry Sponge Cake

My mother is, perhaps, the most disciplined eater I have ever known.  She can bake dozens of homemade chocolate chip cookies and eat only one. She can open a bag of potato chips before dinner and eat a small handful, place the bag back into the pantry and not think of going back for more. I have found stale chocolate in plain sight in her kitchen cabinet and I have never seen her take a second helping of anything.  This would be a sore trial to my green-eyed greedy guts self except for my witnessing her one food addiction.  I’ve caught her on more than one occasion eating large spoonfuls of sweetened whipped cream straight from the mixing bowl before dessert is served.

There are those of us who are purists when it comes to whipped cream and those who don’t mind a little dessert topping from a plastic tub.  My mother is a heavy cream stickler and avowed denigrator of dairy substitutes.  I cannot recall a day in my life when she did not have at least one pound of butter and a pint of heavy cream in her fridge.  Some of us squirrel away a bar of emergency chocolate.  She keeps a stockpile of emergency whipping cream.  You just never know when you might need a fix.

We eat the most whipped cream in May around Mother’s Day.  It happens that strawberry season coincides with the day we celebrate Mom and overlaps her late May birthday and so we always go together to pick local strawberries by the flat that are so sweet and delicate that they must be eaten or made into jam that same day.  Sun warmed and scenting the air with heavenly perfume, we share and eat pints together while driving home, staining our fingers and planning dessert.  Strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, strawberry layer cake,  strawberry soufflé, each of these a beloved springtime treat but none loved more by my mother than strawberry sponge cake.  Our family recipe calls for a full pint of heavy cream.

It is a tradition in our family to bake a sponge cake in a half- sheet pan, turn it out while warm onto a powdered sugar dusted kitchen cloth and roll it up to cool.  When cool, we gently unroll the cake and spread it with 1 pint of heavy cream, whipped and sweetened and fresh sliced strawberries and roll it back up and chill for a few hours.  When you are ready to serve, cut crossways with a piece of dental floss for a very smooth slice to show off the swirl.

 Strawberry Sponge Cake:

5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup all purpose flour
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and line a half-sheet pan and cover with parchment paper.  Grease the paper and lightly flour.  Beat the egg whites and add the salt and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until foamy and add vanilla: set aside.  Spoon the whites over the yolks and sprinkle the flour and corn starch on top. Fold gently until blended and then spread in pan.  Bake for about 10 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.


MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College said...

This look so wonderful and I love the way your write about your Mom is exactly the same way. She has too much discipline, me not so much :-)

Anonymous said...

I am happy that you have written again. I have missed you. Now let's go strawberry picking! xoxo

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