There is something about springtime and the Royal Melbourne Show that makes one think of tradition, the country, and dang it, the mighty CWA.
Huh? What say you?
The CWA, dear long-distance readers, is the Country Women’s Association of Victoria. A wonderful bunch of ladies with a long and rather distinguished history and a long-standing connection with our Royal Show. Each year they take on the task of catering for thousands of hungry Show goers at the CWA Tearooms throughout the day. They use the proceeds to fund a range of community causes throughout regional Victoria during each year. Superhero gals.
These ladies have a reputation for baking that is legendary. When they hold baking competitions, their standards are exacting and their judging is stern but fair. Their focus on traditional cakes and baked goods makes this baker glad that nostalgic favourites are not so easily lost or forgotten as our palates develop sophisticated tastes.
So it got me thinking about sponge cake. A classic light, airy sponge filled with passionfruit cream. Very Australian. Very traditional. I hope the CWA ladies would approve. Just don’t let them near my efforts with their measuring tape or I fear disqualification before the first bite!
This cake has an incredible lightness. The sponge is so airy, mainly because the eggs and sugar are whisked to an almost meringue-like consistency, but also because it includes cornflour. I’d highly recommend using cornflour when making a sponge as the result is very much worth it.
The passionfruit cream is also very light and the passionfruit flavour is tangy and sweet, without being sickly. This cream makes a lovely dessert on its own, served with fresh fruit or delicate biscuits.
This cake is gluten and nut free so is suitable for anyone with gluten intolerance or nut allergies. It makes a lovely change from the usual gluten-free cakes that tend to be nut based or heavier in texture.
If you love passionfruit, you will love this cake. At least, I hope you will.
Kettle on, check. Cut a slice, check. Kick back and enjoy. Blue ribbon time at the Show …
Serves: 8 – 10
3 egg yolks
65 grams sugar
24 grams cornflour
200 grams pure cream (35% fat)
180 grams whole milk
3 passionfruit, pulped
100 grams pure cream, extra
120 grams sugar
120 grams cornflour
a pinch of salt
Place the egg yolks, sugar, and cornflour into a bowl and whisk until smooth and light.
In a saucepan, combine the cream and milk and stir gently with a whisk. Heat gently until the cream just starts to bubble around the edges. Remove and pour in a thin stream over the egg yolks, whisking slowly. This will make sure you don’t end up with scrambled eggs . Whisk the mixture well and return to the saucepan.
Place the pastry cream mixture on a low heat and stir slowly as it cooks with a whisk to make sure it remains smooth and free of lumps as it thickens. When the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Cool and then stir in the passionfruit pulp. There is no need to strain the pulp but you can if you like. I don’t as I love the little black passionfruit seeds speckled throughout the cream. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to assemble the cake.
Just before assembling the cake, add the extra cream to the passionfruit pastry cream and whisk until smooth, light and thickened to a dollop-spreading consistency.
Preheat the oven to 180℃. Grease and line a 23 cm round or 20 cm square cake tin. This time, I used a square tin with a removable bottom, but this is not necessary. Set aside.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until very light and tripled in volume. The egg mixture should have the consistency of a thick cream and ribbon very slowly when the whisk attachment is lifted.
Sift together the cornflour and salt. Sprinkle evenly over the egg mixture and fold very gently, taking care to avoid deflating the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for about 30 mins or until risen and light golden. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean. Alternatively, if you press gently on the surface of the cake with your finger, it will spring back.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, in the tin, on a wire rack. Once cool, gently remove from the tin and slice horizontally into 3 equal layers. I use a serrated knife to do this as it cuts through the sponge without dragging the crumb.
Place one sponge layer on a serving platter. Spread with half the passionfruit cream mixture, making sure you spread the cream all the way to the edges and evenly across the layer. Place the second layer of sponge on top and gently press down. Cover with the remaining passionfruit cream and cover with the top layer of sponge.
Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving.
Serve lightly dusted with icing sugar. I reserved a little of the passionfruit cream instead and spread that in the centre of the top of the cake. I then added a few plain dark chocolate squares … oh sue me, it’s hard for me not to add some gratuitous chocolate to just about anything, isn’t it??
This is so great for afternoon tea. Probably a nice light dessert too. It will keep for several days, covered, in the refrigerator.