When Matty and I were first engaged, we visited my Mum's family in Buninyong for a picnic at "The Gong". The day was perfect - sunny, a little chill in the air (you're not in Ballarat if you're not shivering) and a brilliant spread of food. Wine was flowing freely. So much so that Matt's face fell off in front of the extended family in a slow but very familiar way. Nothing a sausage roll and a piece of ginger fluff sponge can't fix.
Aunty Margaret whipped up this staple that's served at all Burke family events. Unfortunately I was on a sweet food ban with the gang from work and could not enjoy a slice of ginger fluff. Luckily for me, Mum had made a date loaf that I decided was out the realm of "sweet food" (clutching at straws, ya?). I ate almost the entire loaf. Smeared with healthy wedge of butter, I'm pretty sure I did more damage that I would have if I just had a taste of the sponge. No matter. There would be sponge in my future, and not of the dish-washing variety. I had snagged me the recipe. Oh yeah!
This was one of those recipes that you just knew came from a country kitchen. Firstly, some of the measurements were in dessertspoons. Yep, dessertspoons. Is that even a thing? I knew from cooking with Mum that her tablespoons were about twice the size of a metric spoon, but her cakes seemed to work marvellously. I substitute dessertspoon for tablespoon - no biggie.
Second 'country' aspect? The most vague instructions ever: "Mix as for a sponge", "Bake in a moderate oven until done". I suspect it's actually a brilliant bit of sabotage; they know the cake's amazing, but want their version to be the best. Fortunately I'm a master at reverse-engineering food, so I cracked the code a while ago. Plus my Mum sings like a canary with the slightest bit of pressure.
I've been meaning to cook this for a while now. The recipe is so dear to me and the cake is so simple. But when it came time to decide on a sponge for JacDav's main man, I knew this one would hit the nail on the head. A little spice with salted caramel is perfect, but it needs to compliment, not overwhelm. The quantities are doubled, so you could halve it to make a single sponge - sublime with sweetened whipped cream and a dusting of icing sugar.
We're nearly done with this cake recipe. Tomorrow's a whopper - the salted peanut caramel, chocolate glaze and some chocolate ganache. In order to assemble this baby, start by wrapping the pâte à cigarette you made yesterday around the edge of your cake tin. Place your first layer of ginger fluff on the bottom of the pan. You'll then repeat with the mousse and remaining sponge layers, and top it off with the glaze.
Oh man, you're not going to believe this cake. It's the kind of cake that causes gluten and/or lactose intolerant folks to question their faith (it's a religion, right?). I kid, I kid. But, seriously, I do have a close friend who shall remain nameless that has a terrible intolerance for cream who I know would devour this in a second. And we'd all have to deal with the "consequences" for the next couple of hours. You know who you are, milkshake lady.
So my final recommendation? Whether you bake this cake in it's entirety - the whole shebang - or just go the simple sponge route, it is best served to your favourite people for a very important occasion. My favourites are spread far and wide, so expect to see this one pop up every so often. Oh ginger fluff, how I love thee, let me count the ways...
8 eggs, separated
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cornflour
2 tsp cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp golden syrup
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a 40cm baking tin.
Sift flour, cornflour, ground ginger, cocoa and cinnamon.
Beat egg whites on high until pale and fluffy. Add sugar slowly until all is incorporated. Add eggs yolks one at a time.
Fold through flour until just incorporated, then fold in golden syrup. Pour into baking tin.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until centre is cooked and sponge begins to pull away from edges. Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
When cool, slice horizontally into 3 layers. Trim edges of cake by about 2cms - this will allow it to fit in with the trim around the edges.
|Image courtesy of Jacquie Davenport|