Genuine Spongecake

February 17, 2010

I just came upon this recipe from Mrs. Lincoln, who was the first principal of The Boston Cooking School, and author of many cookbooks. She calls this "a genuine spongecake" and I find the simplicity of the recipe completely seductive. Seems the perfect project on this snowy day. 

What is remarkable about the recipe is that it contains no fat and no leavening; it's essentially a souffle with a bit of flour whisked in. In Mrs. Lincoln's day a very strong arm was required; this is an awful lot of whisking for those lacking electricity. 

This fluff of a cake has a very airy texture.  I'd guess that you could use rice flour or some combination of other flours if you wanted to make it gluten-free. And next time I'll definitely use more lemon rind. A lot more; it's a perfectly pleasant cake, but it doesn't have much character. 

Genuine Spongecake

The weight of the eggs in sugar, and half their weight in flour.This enables you to make a cake of any size you desire. The usual proportion for one loaf, by measure, is four large or five small eggs,one cup of fine granulated sugar, and one cup of sifted pastry flour, the grated rind and juice of half a lemon. Beat yolks till thick and very creamy, add sugar, and beat till light colored; add lemon. Beat whites till stiff and nearly dry, and fold them in with care, so as not to break down the bubbles, sift in the flour lightly, and fold over (not stir) till just barely covered. Bake in a moderate oven from forty to fifty minutes. You will look far to find a better sponge cake than this when properly made and baked.

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