This sponge uses only egg whites, sugar, flour, cornflour, salt and a teaspoon of cream of tartar. It's not an ingredient I use often, but I knew I had some in my cupboard somewhere. However I was a little stunned to notice that it was over three years out of date when I went to bake today. Oops. If I had an assistant they'd be dispatched to fetch some more, but as it was I had to head to the shops myself. Can you imagine?
However I soon was able to make good use of my very own trusted assistant - my KitchenAid mixer I lovingly call dear Sarah - was set to high, whisking up the five egg whites required to send this sponge into cloud heaven. Very stiffly indeed. A level teaspoon of the mysterious cream of tartar is sprinkled over the top, before sliding the sugar and salt into one side of the bowl. Fanny instructs blending with gentle turning and folding movements. I doubt the assistants ever found Fanny to be gentle.
There doesn't seem to be very much flour going into this cake, but I sift in the cornflour and self-raising mix as Fanny asks, repeating the blending process as before. The gently turned and folded mix looks glossy and puffy. Now it's time for the tin...
Thankfully for me I didn't need yet another trip to the shops, as Fanny recommends a very ordinary, loose bottomed sponge tin for the job. No fuss, no nonsense. She prefers a 5 1/2 inch diameter one, but I reckon my 6 incher will do just fine. Innuendos aside, what's half an inch between friends? Fanny has spent so much of this partwork carefully describing how to grease, flour and paper tins, but for this Gâteau des Anges the tin should remain dry. I think it's so the mixture can cling to the sides and rise well. It does. The cake seems fragile though when it comes out the oven, and Fanny suggest cooling it on a rack over a warm oven, until cool. Fanny decorates her sponge with simple sifted icing sugar and flaked almonds, but I decide a little whipped cream is needed. I replace the flaked nuts with some colourful Almond Joy Pieces I have leftover from my recent trip to the States. They are blue, I'm sure Fanny would like them! The texture of the cake is strange, a little chewy like an eggy candy-floss, but is certainly light. It seems to have survived the many change of temperature Edinburgh has to offer today. Hopefully it won't shock your diet too much either, well unless like me you pile on more cream and chocolates.