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Elderflower sponge with a white tea and gooseberry jam filling

May 16, 2012

Soft, sweet sponge filled with a shape, fragrant jam and topped
with elderflower sugar crystals
This light, sweet sponge is beautiful on a summer’s day with a cup of tea or even as at a gown up celebration! Inspired by my lovely friend Harrie this cake served as a delightfully grown up birthday cake whilst steeped in the flavours that remind us so much of elderflower champagne nights out and tea fuelled lazy mornings in sunny Falmouth.
Recipe:
For the sponge-

230g caster sugar
230g baking margarine
230g self raising flour
4 eggs
a good drizzle of elderflower cordial
4-5 tbsp granulated sugar
For the jam:
4 white tea bags
300g gooseberries, fresh if you can get them but tinned or frozen are fine, just rinse them of their syrup or defrost them completely before you use them
200g jam sugar
Turn on the oven and set it to 180c.
To make the sponge I cream together the margarine and the sugar with an electric hand whisk in a large bowl so I have plenty of space to move the mixture around. Whisk the margarine and the sugar until it has become considerably paler than the original shade of the marg; keep a tsp of marg aside to check if you wish! This lightness of colour shows that the mixture has been aerated and will be fluffy and light.
 
Find another largish bowl and wash and dry it thoroughly to make sure there is no trace of any grease in it at all, they will get greasy just being in a cupboard in the kitchen. You want to crack your eggs over your beautifully clean bowl, holding back the yolks in lightly clasped fingers, a bit like one of those grabby cranes at a fair ground! Let all of the crystal egg white drain through your fingers, help it through by pulling at it with your other hand but make sure you do not crack the yolk. Drop the yolks into the bowl with the marg and sugar mixture as you break your eggs.
 
Now whisk your egg yolks into your marg and sugar mixture, adding in a sifting of flour every few minutes, as soon as your last sifting is no longer visible add a bit more. The mixture will probably feel very thick and heavy at this point but do not fret that will soon change.
 
Wash the whisk beaters thoroughly and dry them making sure they are completely grease free. This pedantic grease eradication is so that when you whisk your egg whites they blossom into fluffy white peaks... grease is the enemy of clouds of egg white, they will remain stubbornly flaccid and sloppy should any grease be lurking in the bowl or on the beaters.
Using the beautifully clean electric hand whisk, whip the egg whites into a bubbly frenzy until they resemble a large and pearly 99 ice cream in your bowl. Now, take a large spoonful of your stiffened egg white and gently pour it into your marg, sugar, yolk and flour batter, using a spatula fold the white foam into the batter until it has disappeared, repeat until all of the egg white is gone. Some recipes say to use a metal spoon as its sharp edge cuts through the batter without knocking any of the air out, I use a silicone spatula as I find it eases all of the mixture away from the sides of the bowl and make sure its thoroughly mixed.
Line two round tins, about 8-10inchs across, with greaseproof or baking paper. Divide your batter equally between the two tins and place in the oven to bake for about 25-30mins.
The cakes should be lightly coloured on top, a golden brown, and slightly firm to the touch, bouncing back when a finger is pressed lightly against their surface.
Whilst the sponges are still warm drizzle over about 2-3 tablespoons of elderflower cordial onto each cake, the sponge will soak up the cordial as they cool. Decide which cake is to be the top layer, sprinkle over 2-3 tablespoons of granulated sugar onto the top of the cake, drizzle over more cordial then finish with the rest of the sugar. The sugar will appear to have dissolved in the cordial but as the cake cools and the cordial is absorbed, the surface will dry leaving you will an elderflower crystal crust.
To make your jam, first brew the tea bags 300ml of boiling water for about 5 mins until you have a dark golden, crystal clear liquid. Pour this liquid into a large, deep frying pan and tumble over the berries. Bring the pan up to the boil then shake over your jam sugar, reduce the heat under the pan and leave to simmer for about 20 mins.
When the liquid in the plan has become to thicken, use a fork to squash but not mash the berries, this will release their crunchy seeds and give a great texture to the finished jam.
To check the jam is done, plop a little drop on to a cold plate that’s been in the fridge for 5 mins. If the jam becomes a firm jelly then it is finished, if it runs quickly off the plate when tipped then reduce it further.
When both your jam and your sponges are cooled, glue your pale golden sponges together with a thick layer of the jam then serve up alongside a pot of tea or, the inspiration behind the cake, elderflower champagne.





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