Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sponge Cake

When I'm depressed, I am my worst enemy. No matter how much I want to get better, I can easily defeat myself if I choose not to do anything. Taking the first step is not what I find most difficult. It's the on-going battle that leaves me so tired. 

It's been 8 years since I was first diagnosed with clinical depression, and I'm currently on the worst and longest episode I've ever experienced. Even though today was a really bad day, I still went into the kitchen and got on with it. The worst thing that a depressed person could do is do absolutely nothing.

So, I got the stuff I needed for a sponge cake (which is also known as the Victoria cake, named after by Queen Victoria, who liked having it with her afternoon tea):

 250g butter
 1 cup caster sugar
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 4 eggs (at room temperature)
 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
 jam for filling
 icing sugar for dusting

I preheated the oven to 175C. I then got two round 20cm cake pans, lined it with baking paper, then sprayed it with cooking spray.

I combined the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed. Once it was light and fluffy, I started adding the eggs in one at a time.

This time, I actually remembered to check first if the egg was fresh. I cracked it open into a separate bowl before adding it in to the butter mixture. I once made the mistake of cracking an egg open straight into a mixture, and well... rotten egg and all ended up in the rubbish bin.

Anyway, when I had added in all the eggs, I started to panic mildly when my butter mixture turned into an unpleasantly lumpy consistency. However, I soldiered on and transferred everything into a larger bowl.

After adding in the flour in two batches, I had a doughy consistency, much to my relief. I then proceeded to transfer the mixture as equally as possible between the two baking pans.

I had another bout of panic because the mixture was so sticky, it wasn't sitting quite right in my pans, no matter how I tried to spread them out. However, not to worry, spread them out as best you can, because it'll spread out further once in the oven.

I popped those babies into the oven for 20 minutes, and took them out once the knife I slid in came out clean.

I lifted the cakes out from the pans and put them on wire racks to cool.

Once cool enough to touch, I turned one of the cakes over on to a plate, took off the baking paper and spread raspberry jam on top. You can use whichever jam you prefer, or cream filling, or both.

I decided to go with raspberry jam only. I then turned the other cake over on top, and sprinkled it with icing sugar on top. Too bad I couldn't find any paper doilies to make a pattern above.

Ta-da. It's nice, light, airy and not too dry. The sweetness was just right too. But I'm more of a moist cake fan, and the amount of butter put me off a little, so I don't think I'm going to be making this one too often.

As for my mood, it's no better than when I started. But the sense of accomplishment is so much better than  simply choosing to do nothing.

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