Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What to do with raspberries that have not been smashed

Hey, it’s July. I know! Let’s bake a cake that involves standing in front of the pre-heated oven and leaning over boiling water! Fantastic idea. And I mean that.
On Sunday I made this Genoese sponge cake topped with fresh whipped cream and juicy raspberries.  The recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall’s River Cottage Every Day, a cookbook centered on the idea that eating whole, fresh foods can be a sustainable practice—even for a busy family with young children.  
While at least one of Hugh’s previous books is a little too grassroots for me, it is clear that he really just wants people to connect with their food, to think about where it came from and where it is going—even if you don’t slaughter it yourself. River Cottage Every Day is approachable, informative, and inspiring. Hugh’s dishes are homey, yet polished, without being fussy, and he incorporates variations into many of the recipes, allowing for the flexibility needed in everyday life. It’s evident that Hugh believes in the choice to eat more responsibly, the choice that we are now making, and, though I may not be ready to cultivate my own sourdough starter and bake my own bread, I like having an author on hand whom I trust to show me how.
Recalling my notorious inability to follow baking directions (we all have our strengths), many readers will be happy to hear that I followed this recipe almost exactly. I even sifted the flour. I did, however, take two liberties: I used fancy, local, whole-wheat flour and baked the cake in a nine-inch spring form pan with no parchment paper lining. I lead a very risky life. It was a little disconcerting to hear from the flour lady that her goods would keep in my fridge for only three months, but then, how much more disturbing is it to think about what’s in my current flour, enabling it to sit on my counter for over a year? I’ll be making my own sourdough yet.
Light and not too sweet, with a delicate nuttiness from the whole-wheat flour, this summery cake was a delight to eat. Berries and cream. Berries and cream! Plus, it’s two dishes in one: I’ve smashed the leftovers into a container and am calling it “trifle”—don’t judge me. 

Genoese Sponge Cake adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall’s River Cottage Every Day

            4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
Pinch of coarse salt
4 medium eggs
½ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped
2 cups raspberries
Sugar for dusting

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees—if you can, this is an approximation for Muzgaash and me. Grease and flour a nine-inch round cake pan or spring form. Put water on to simmer in a small saucepan, and sift the flour with a pinch of salt. Now you are all set up!

Add eggs and sugar to a large glass bowl that can “sit snugly” over your saucepan (make sure the water is shallow enough that the bottom of the bowl is not touching it directly). Beat the eggs and sugar over the double boiler until they are pale and tripled in size. Hugh says, “The mixture should hold its shape on the surface for a few seconds if you let a little fall from the beaters.”

Fold the flour into the fluffed up egg and sugar in two batches. Hugh encourages the use of a metal spoon for this, I’m not sure that that matters. Be gentle. That does matter. Fold in the butter, too, then bake for 25 minutes, until the batter looks like cake.

Remove from oven when golden. Let cake cool slightly. Remove from pan. Let cake cool more. Top with whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and sugar dust. Call mom and invite her over for cake.


  1. I love the photo of the raspberry Genoese sponge cake that includes the cookbook with the photo of the raspberry Genoese sponge cake.

  2. So gorgeous.

    Reminds me of a fancy version of that shortcake with ice cream and strawberries dessert we used to get after dinner!

  3. Mairead, how can you reveal my culinary secrets? And Hanna, thanks for inviting me over for cake.