1. Scale ingredients accurately. Have all ingredients at room temperature. If butter is included, it must be melted.
If liquid and butter are included, heat them together, just until the butter is melted.
2. Combine the eggs and sugar and warm to about 110°F (43°C). This may be done in one of two ways.
• Stir the egg-sugar mixture over a hot-water bath.
• Warm the sugar on a sheet pan in the oven (do not get it too hot) and gradually beat it into the eggs. The reason for this step is that the foam attains greater volume if warm.
3. With the whip attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until light and thick. This may take 10 to 15 minutes. This step is important. One of the most frequent causes of failure in the sponge method is not whipping the eggs and sugar enough. The foam must be very thick. When the beater is lifted from the bowl, the foam should fall slowly from it and make a ribbon that slowly sinks into the batter in the bowl (see Figure 32.1).
4. Fold in the sifted flour, being careful not to deflate the foam. Many bakers do this by hand. If other dry ingredients are used, such as cornstarch or baking powder, they are first sifted with the flour.
5. If melted butter or a butter-liquid mixture is being used, fold it in at this point. Be careful not to overmix, or the cake will be tough (because of developed gluten).
6. Immediately pan and bake the batter. Delays cause loss of volume.
Some formulas contain water or some other liquid, but no butter (so you cannot heat the liquid and butter together, as in the basic procedure). In this case, the liquid is usually added after step 3 and before folding in the flour. Either whip it in a steady stream or stir it in, as indicated in the recipe. In some formulas, the egg yolks and whites are separated. Use the yolks and part of the sugar to make the foam in steps 2 and 3. Use the remaining sugar to whip with the whites. Fold the egg-white foam into the batter after step 5.
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