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Sponge Cake Day

"Afternoon tea should be provided, fresh supplies, with thin bread-and-butter, fancy pastries, cakes, etc., being brought in as other guests arrive."

~ Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, Isabella Beeton, 1861

There's nothing more refreshing than a cup of tea, especially if accompanied by a sweet treat such as sponge cake! Sponge cakes are light cakes made with egg whites, flour and sugar, sometimes leavened with baking powder. Although most sponge cakes contain egg yolks, others, such as "angel food cake" use only the whites! Sponge cakes as we know them today emerged when bakers started using beaten eggs as a rising agent in the mid-18th century. The Victorian creation of baking powder by English food manufacturer Alfred Bird in 1843 allowed the addition of butter to the traditional sponge recipe, resulting in the creation of the Victoria sponge, also known as the Victoria sandwich cake, named after Queen Victoria who enjoyed the small cakes with her afternoon tea. Queen Victoria's cakes would have been filled with jam alone, but modern versions often include cream. This tartan was designed to celebrate tea-parties, get-togethers and craft-parties and the joy of a good cuppa and a ‘blether’. The colours chosen for this design are intended to represent a tasty sponge cake with raspberry jam, or a slice of Battenberg cake with marzipan, along with coffee and tea. Yummy! 🫖 🍰

This tartan, designed by Tartan Caledonia is a fashion tartan celebrating the tastes and pleasures of tea and its classic accompaniments.

The earliest known recipe for sponge cake (or biscuit bread) from Gervase Markham's The English Huswife (1615) is prepared by mixing flour and sugar into eggs, then seasoning with anise and coriander seeds.  19th-century descriptions of "avral bread" (funeral biscuits) vary from place to place but it sometimes described as "sponge biscuits" or a "crisp sponge" with a light dusting of sugar".

Traditional American sponge recipes diverged from earlier methods of preparation, by adding ingredients like vinegar, baking powder, hot water or milk.  

This basic recipe is also used for madeleines, ladyfingers, and trifles, as well as some versions of strawberry shortcake.

Although sponge cake is usually made without butter, its flavor is often enhanced with buttercream, pastry cream or other types of fillings and frostings.  Sponge cake covered in boiled icing was very popular in American cuisine during the 1920s and 1930s.

Classic sponge cakes include 

  • Angel food cake

  • Boston cream pie

  • Chiffon cake

  • Genoise

  • Pan di Spagna

  • Joconde cake

  • Pão-de-Ló

  • Plava

  • Swiss roll

  • Tipsy cake

  • Trifle

  • Victoria sponge

For a classic Victoria Sponge by master baker Mary Berry, click the tea setting!

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