Although Mary's sponge is suggested for a Christening, there's no reason why it shouldn't be enjoyed at any other special occasion. There was no impending Christening on the horizon, but I knew my baby niece would be born before the end of the challenge. I was very much looking forward to her arrival and couldn't wait to make this cake to celebrate.
Little Evie Mae was born on 19th July after a long and complicated labour. Thankfully both mother and baby recovered well from the ordeal and I was excited to visit a few days later to meet my beautiful niece. She is adorable and I am of course a very proud Auntie! Now I was able to get on and make a cake to celebrate Evie's birth. The recipe didn't look to be too difficult. However, it was another swelteringly hot day, so I was dreading turning on the oven!
First of all I weighed out a smallish quantity of butter and then melted it in a saucepan. I wasn't looking forward to the next part. After adding sugar and six eggs to my Mum's largest mixing bowl, I had to set it over a pan of simmering water and whisk the living daylights out of it. This was probably not the best activity for a boiling hot day and I hadn't anticipated how long it would take. Ten minutes must have passed before the mixture became suitably thick and creamy. By the time it had reached the correct consistency it was threatening to spill over the sides of the bowl! I was getting unbearably hot, so I was very relieved to turn off the heat. Unfortunately I couldn't sit down and cool off; I had to carry on whisking until the mixture became cold. This meant a further ten minutes of aching legs!
Finally I was able to sift half of the self-raising flour and cornflour into the already fit to burst mixing bowl. Just as I'd congratulated myself on successfully folding in the flour I'd find a heap hidden at the bottom of the bowl. I had the same problem with the butter; it also had happily sunk to the bottom. After repeating this process with the remainder of the flours and butter I felt sure I'd knocked out all the air I'd worked so hard put in. I poured the voluminous mixture into the awaiting tin and found that I had a fair amount left over. Hmmm.........this couldn't be a good sign. Was my tin not deep enough?!
With the cake now safely in the oven I went upstairs to lie on the bed. I was very hot and felt a desperate need to cool down. After ten or fifteen minutes I could smell a strong whiff of burning. ARGH!! I raced to the kitchen and discovered that my cake was burnt to a crisp! It was supposed to have another twenty minutes in the oven, so I put some foil over the top of the cake and kept my fingers crossed. Alas it was of no use; the cake turned an even darker shade of black and sunk in the middle. After suffering in the heat to make this cake I was devastated and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried my eyes out!! I just had to hope it would be cooler the next day so I could have another go and attempt the cake again.
The following day was no cooler so Neil (long suffering husband) very kindly did the whisking part for this cake. It he hadn't I'm not sure that I would have summoned up the enthusiasm to have another go! After folding the flours and butter into Neil's beautifully whisked mixture I could put the cake in the oven. My family didn't look at all surprised to find me sitting on a chair in front of the oven watching the cake cook. My mum caught me watching paint dry once!!! I was determined that this cake wouldn't burn, so I was happy to keep my beady eye on it. We'd decided that my parents' oven runs too hot, so I had lowered the temperature and hoped this would work. It did - HOORAY! The cake cooked beautifully this time and it wasn't at all burnt when it exited the oven – phew!!
While the large cake cooled I got on with making the simple filling. All there was to do was to whisk up a large quantity of double cream and then mix in some lemon curd. Of course I thought it only wise to sample a taster - purely for quality control purposes. It was hard to resist the urge to scoff the entire contents of the bowl. It was heavenly!
I was terrified about splitting the cake into three layers as the sponge was quite fragile. However, I managed to get the job done with only a few patch ups necessary! Once the cake was filled I covered it with fondant; this was going to make for a very sweet cake. Instead of using the suggested crystallized flowers for decoration, I made a pair of pink baby booties to adorn the top of the cake. If you have seen Neil's cartoons on my Facebook page you will know he is the artistic one in the relationship, so he piped Evie's name and date of birth on the fondant. The finished cake didn't turn out quite as I had imagined, but my sister and her husband seemed pleased with it. I cut generous slices for everyone and, by the time I'd remembered to take a picture of the sliced cake, most of it was gone and the remainder looked rather messy! The cake was light and, unsurprisingly, tasted like a Swiss roll sponge. The lemon cream filling moistened the sponge and tasted delicious.
It was a lovely cake but, due to the stress involved, I can't say that I enjoyed making it! For all that hot work I expected a WOW cake which would have made it worth all the effort. Despite it being very pleasant it just wasn't special enough for my liking. However, in hindsight perhaps making such a cake on a blistering hot day when 25 weeks pregnant was a bit misguided!!
|For gorgeous Evie xxx|
|Apologies for rubbish photo!|