I was around 11 or 12 when I attempted my first sponge. I was whipping it up for my Gran’s birthday. I had heard her say many times that she couldn’t make a good sponge, that it wouldn’t rise, perhaps it was her oven.
I had the house to myself and I spent all day in the kitchen. I had found Mum’s worn out CWA cookbook. I had my tins, I had cream. I was set.
I couldn’t have been happier with the end result.
My cakes were golden, had risen and I thought they were beautiful!
I filled and topped my sponge with perfectly whipped cream and a generous assortment of mixed lollies.
I got out Mum’s oversized sponge carrier, the old tupperware ones that everyone had, do you remember them?
My cake wouldn’t fit. Well, not with the lid on.
Not to worry. The trip to Gran’s was a short one.
I tidied up and waited, high on success and full of pride, for Mum’s car to pull into the driveway.
Finally Mum was home. It was time to start showing off and sharing my masterpiece.
She laughed when she saw it, in that way where she didn’t really mean to but couldn’t help it. She said she loved it and continued to laugh. I had missed the joke but I didn’t mind. We were jumping in the car and heading to Gran’s, I was bursting with excitement.
As we pulled in I saw that my Uncle and Aunty were also there. Great!!! There was plenty of cake for everyone.
My Gran did love it. She thought it was the finest sponge she had ever seen. She had a big piece and ate all of the lollies off the top.
No-one else tried it.
Everyone else laughed.
The sponge was massive!! Seriously massive. I certainly had no problems getting that cake to rise!
To this day this story makes my face light up.
I think it was one of the best days I have had. I loved having the time to myself, pottering in the kitchen without my brothers teasing or my Mum worrying about the mess. I loved the elation I felt when I stood back and observed my end result, when I shared it with my Gran. I love that one way or another everyone got a little joy from it. But what I love most of all is that it shows exactly how my Gran was with me. My imperfect self would always be perfect to her. It didn’t matter what I did, what I said or how I looked, to her I was the finest thing and there was no need for improvement.
It has been so many years since she let go of my hand but not a day passes that I don’t think of her. That I don’t wish she was by my side. That I don’t give thanks that I had her for as long as I did. That she loved me as unconditionally as she did.
When I miss her so much that my heart aches and my eyes cry I jump in my kitchen, I pull out her old yellow mixing bowl and I bake. I take myself back to this day. I see the smile that reaches her eyes. I hear the joy in her voice and I know that at that moment they are just for me, just as my sponge was just for her.
- 1 and 1/2 cups almond meal
- pinch of salt
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar*
- 2 cups thick natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt or you can try a whipped coconut cream such as this one
- 2 cups berries
- Preheat your oven to 175°C or 350°F
- Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
- Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the sugar and beat at high speed for 5 – 6 minutes. Add the salt to the almond meal. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the almond meal evenly over the egg mixture and gently combine, do not over mix. Repeat until you have no almond meal left.
- Pour the mixture evenly into your prepared tins.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until nicely golden.
- Remove from the oven. Run a knife slowly and careful around the edge of each cake. Gently flip the cakes onto cooling racks and remove the baking paper. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
- Cover what is now the top of one cake with the thick yoghurt or cream and evenly distribute the berries. Place the remaining cake on top and repeat. Cut. Eat. Enjoy.
*coconut sugar is now readily available in the health section of the supermarket and at health food stores