From the kitchen | Never fail sponge

My Nan was a big fan of sponge cake, so it came as no surprise that in among her recipes is one for a Never Fail Sponge. I also used her recipe for Mock Cream and Sugared Violets. I was really pleased with how the sponge turned out – I’ve never made a sponge before and it was light and fluffy. I’d run out of vanilla essence for the cream so I used rose water instead which gave it a lovely flavour – but if you do use rose water – in anything – be careful as it is incredibly strong.

Not entirely sure why my Nan called this a ‘Never Fail’ sponge, as there is a high chance of things going wrong given how fiddly a sponge is, but in this instance at least, she was right. I couldn’t have been happier with the overall result – looked great and tastes yum.


What you’ll need 

4 eggs separated
3/4 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup cornflour
1 tablespoon custard powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/3 – 1/2 cup favourite jam sieved
300ml cream
Sugared violets (optional)

Makes 2 deep layers


Preheat the oven (fan forced) to 180°C. In a large bowl beat the egg whites at a high speed with an electric mixer until stiff and foamy. Gradually add sugar beating until stiff and glossy.

Beat the egg yolks lightly in a small bowl, fold gently but thoroughly into egg whites.

Sift together the cornflower, custard powder, cream of tartar and bicarb soda. Sift all together at least twice to ensure they are well mixed.

Lightly fold the flour mixture into the egg whites. Be sure to mix through to the bottom of the bowl to blend the ingredients evenly.

Spoon batter equally between two greased deep 20cm sponge tins. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn out onto racks with the sides which will face the filling toward the racks. Cover with a tea towel.

Once cooled, cover the base cake in the jam of your choice (I used strawberry). Up to you whether you sift the jam or not, it’s not essential. Then place the cream on top and the other cake on top of that. Finish with a generous coating of icing sugar and the sugared violets.


Mock Cream

What you’ll need

2 tablespoons butter – must be real better
2 tablespoons cold boiled milk
2 tablespoons castor sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, very gradually add the milk beating all the time. Then add the water in a steady trickle, beating hard. Don’t worry if it seems to curdle, just keep beating. Add the vanilla or other flavouring. I used 1/4 of rose water.

For this particular cake, I doubled this cream recipe.


Sugared Violets

What you’ll need

Castor sugar
Egg whites, lightly beaten

Keep the steams on the violets – this will make them easier to handle – using a paint brush, dip it in the lightly beaten egg whites and paint the violets. Gently dip them in the sugar, shake off excess and set aside to dry. Before placing them on the cake, trim the steams.



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