I love orange flavoured baked goods, so an orange cake has been lurking at the corners of my mind for the last few weeks. I flipped through a few different cookbooks, looking at different orange cake recipes and finally settled on Orange Sponge Cake from Anyone Can Bake. It’s a bit more involved that what I originally had in mind, but honestly, I was feeling lazy, so decided to go with one that had modern style instructions. The cake is baked in two layers, with an orange filling in between, then topped with a cooked icing, which is something I’ve never made before. The icing is pure white, glossy, and quite pretty, but the sugar stayed slightly gritty, and to me, the icing is a bit too sweet. I’m a die-hard fan of a good buttercream icing!
The cake required the separating of the eggs, and beating the whites until stiff. I used a wire whisk and beat them by hand, and then beat the yolks separately. I folded everything together as instructed, and even sifted the flour. I never sift flour! I baked the two layers in round nine-inch pans that had been carefully buttered and floured, and the cakes came out perfectly. They took a bit longer than the 18 minutes listed in the book, so I just kept checking them every few minutes til they were done.
While they were cooling, I mixed up the filling, but due to lack of orange rinds, I left that out of the filling. The filling set up nicely and stayed between the layers without spurting out, and it’s tasty! After the filling came the 7 Minute Icing. I used the whisk on my hand blender since I didn’t want to stand there cranking my old dover egg beater for the required seven minutes. Beating the egg whites for the cake was enough for one day! I don’t own a proper double boiler, so I used a saucepan set inside a frying pan of hot water. Not perfect, but got the job done.
The end result was universally well liked, but for the icing. Only one person who tried it was in favour of the icing, the rest agreed with me that it’s too sweet. But the cake and the filling…. Mmmmmm! I don’t think I’ve ever made a proper sponge cake before; it was light and springy, and stayed moist and fresh for as long as the cake lasted… that being said, I can’t tell you if it will stay fresh more than a couple of days! The filling was amazing, tangy and smooth, not at all like the glue-like stuff you get in some bakery cakes. The icing, though pretty, cracked when the cake was cut, which didn’t help with presentation during serving, but all in all, this cake was a success! I’d try it again with buttercream icing.
Anyone Can Bake was published in 1928 by the Royal Baking Powder Co. As well as baking recipes and techniques, it includes sections on table setting for different occasions, information on commonly used baking ingredients, and menus and menu building, including school lunches. It’s fully illustrated throughout with clear photographs of the different steps for making all kinds of delicious things. My copy, though very tattered, is also full of clippings and hand written recipes, glued in on nearly every page that doesn’t include recipes. Sadly, because of this, I may never know the finer points of table setting.