Celebrate spring with celebratory dessert

May is the time of celebrations – weddings, showers, graduations, birthdays and anniversaries. Celebrations mean food. Here is one recipe to fit all occasions – fancy enough to say “special,” simple enough to “produce” but with professional aplomb. It can be translated a number of ways – suitable for the simplest or the most sophisticated event.

It is the basic sponge, which can take the shape of a flan filled with cream and piled high with fresh fruit, or be formed into a jelly roll and filled with whipped cream and strawberries, or fashioned into a torte spread with cream and sliced fresh fruit and garnished with whipped cream rosettes.

Any way you slice it, the cake is fresh with citrus overtones and filled with luscious cream and fruit – it says, “happy celebration.”

Basic Sponge Cake

A sponge cake can be shaped into a flan, a torte or a jelly roll. The very nature of the recipe gives the cake the texture to absorb a variety of syrups and also support the fillings of your choice. This simple cake takes only minutes to make. You will need an electric mixer.

3 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) water or orange juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated orange or lemon rind
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Prepare desired baking pan – flan, springform or jelly roll – line with parchment, and spray with baking spray.

In mixing bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar (by spoonfuls) until thick and pale coloured. Beat in water or orange juice, rind and vanilla. In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly to edges.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until pale golden brown and top springs back when touched.

Flan with Cream and Fresh Fruit

For the flan, you will need a flan pan (available in the St. Lawrence Market kitchenware store on the main floor). You could substitute a nine inch spring form pan, but the flan shape has a natural edge which holds a custard filling and fruit topping. Line the bottom of the flan pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray before spreading the batter evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Let flan cool thoroughly before un-molding and filling.

Spread the top of the flan or spring form pan with Chantilly cream and pile a mixture of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries on top decorated with sprigs of fresh mint. Chantilly cream is flavoured whipped cream. It can be used to frost cakes or as a filling for jelly roll or the flan.

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
1/4 cup (50 mL) sifted icing sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla and/or orange rind

In a mixing bowl, using electric mixer beat cream until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in icing sugar and vanilla and/or rind. Continue to beat until stiff.

Strawberry and Cream Jelly Roll

To make the jelly roll, line a 15 by 11 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray. Prepare the basic sponge cake and pour onto pan spreading evenly. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. While still warm, loosen edges of the cake and invert the sponge cake onto a clean tea towel sprinkled well with icing sugar. Use the tea towel to help roll up the sponge cake and form it. Roll up lengthwise or width wise, depending on how many people you wish to feed. Rolling while it is still warm will help shape the cake. The cake may stay rolled up for one hour or overnight.

To fill, gently unroll and spread the interior with whipped cream. Arrange two cups (500 mL) fresh sliced strawberries on interior and roll up. Pipe rosettes of whipped cream along top of jelly roll and garnish with sliced or whole strawberries.

To make the torte, prepare the basic sponge and spread it evenly in the 15 by 11 inch jelly roll. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely then remove from pan and cut into three identical sized rectangles. Frost the top of each layer with Chantilly cream. Arrange fresh fruit such as strawberries, blackberries or blueberries on top; place another sponge layer on top; frost and top with fruit; repeat for the final layer. Cover and refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.

TIP: Sponge cake slices better if allowed to stand in the refrigerator for a few hours.


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  –  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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