Have I introduced you to Barry the bike yet? He's my beautiful baby. Since I've been riding to work, I've felt energised and crazy enthusiastic about everything (emphasis on the crazy). He's red and shiny (and therefore faster) and I recently bought a beautiful copper bell to ding-a-ling as I ride to work.
Riding beats driving or public transport by a long shot. I'm getting fit (sexy bike riders legs - oh er!) and I'm not crammed into a smelly, slow tram for an hour every morning (apologies to tram users, but... erm... deoderant?). Despite what a lot of people say, riding on the roads in Melbourne is not too bad - I pick pretty quiet streets or straight bike lanes and I've never had too much trouble. That said, I signal like a mega-nerd, never ride on the footpath and generally try to ride as mindfully as I can. Total riding goodie-two-shoes.
Today I would have thrown in the towel - put Barry up for adoption. The winds in Melbourne were just Inxanadu (that's Bennetto for insane). It normally takes about 45 minutes to get home - today was 1 hour 15 minutes. Ech. My legs were burning (and not from their mega hotness - I know, surprising). At more that one point I almost toppled from my bike and for once, my total lack of coordination was not to blame.
Today is not a day for riding (well, riding north anyway. South would be amazeballs). You know what else might not work today? The blowaway sponge. It's the lightest, softest, most beautiful sponge you're ever going to overeat in your life. Leave this on a plate outside on a day like today and it would be sailing through the air like a kite. They don't call it the Blowaway for nothing. This (along with ginger fluff sponge) is one of the key recipes in Mum's little brown-covered, handwritten cookbook. I have my death stamp firmly placed on that cookbook. The death stamp is our family's charming way to claim mementos on our parent's death. How totally Menendez of us.
It's a total coincidence that this recipe is gluten free. It's not one of those modified recipes that comes out kinda-OK-but-has-a-strange-tangy-aftertaste and leaves you longing for a little wheat. This is the real deal - light, fluffy and the perfect vehicle for whipped cream and strawberries (not that those two dudes need any help being delish).
So young JacDav asked for some tips in making a great sponge. This recipe's a great start in making a great sponge. But what else can you do? Well, there's a couple of methods in making a great sponge: the first is by beating the eggs with sugar and folding in the flour. But if you separate the eggs, and whip the whites, add the sugar slowly and then add the yolks, you'll find you get a lighter mix.
When you're folding in the flour, I use a metal spoon - it cuts through the mixture better. A thick spatula can deflate the air in the eggs and a wooden spoon retains too much moisture: the enemy of a good whip. As with all baked goods, preheat your oven and don't put the cake in until it's at the right temperature - if you're cakes don't seem to work out that would be my first suggestion.
Keep the egg whites clean: no moisture (especially oil) in the bowl. Think of oil as the Lex Luthor to the egg white's Superman. Or maybe the kryptonite? Your choice. And sugar is the Lois Lane, but force her on Clark Kent too early and he'll go all crystally. No one wants to see a crystalized Superman. Use caster sugar too - it's finer than regular sugar and dissolves quicker into the egg whites. I have no Superman metaphor for that. Just do it.
Some people are pretty intense about their sponges: I know people who won't let anyone in their kitchen while the cake is in the oven for fear of the footsteps delating the sponge. Some people won't open the oven door (not a bad idea) while others sift their dry ingredients three or four times. I think the real rule is to just be light when mixing. Don't dump your ingredients in huge batches on top. Mix with a light hand as my Mum would say; I never quite worked out what that meant. Maybe you shouldn't make sponges if you have manhands?
What else is there? This sponge slightly shrinks in from the sides at the top - totally normal. Fill it with some beautiful sweetened whipped cream and top with your own favourite fruit. Passionfruit's a classic, but I've gone with strawberries here. Avoid eating when it's windy. Except for if you've riden home: you've earnt it.
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup castor sugar
3/4 cup cornflour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp bicarb soda
Preheat oven to 190ºC. Prepare a round baking tin (approximately 20cm in diameter) by greasing and lining with baking paper.
Beat eggs whites until soft peaks form. Add castor sugar gradually. Once all sugar is incorporated, add the yolks one at a time. Sift the dry ingredients and fold carefully into the mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes on the third shelf from the bottom of the oven.