Last night, to celebrate my oldest daughter’s 7th birthday (which we are celebrating again today, and celebrated before on Wednesday), I made my grandmother’s sponge cake. It has been over 25 years since I’ve had it, but I think what I made was pretty close to the original. The cake, perhaps, wasn’t as light – and the lemon curd was too creamy-looking (I remember my grandmother’s as being more translucent). But it tasted quite close to what my grandmother made, and it was very yummy.
At first I thought the recipe she used came from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook that she used, but then I found a recipe typed up into my aunt Gladys’ recipe notebook, so that’s the one I made. Here is the recipe.
August 2011 update
My oldest wanted sponge cake for a tea we were hosting yesterday so I revisited this recipe with her. It was fun making it together, though a bit messy giving all the sifting and we used up lots of bowls. This time I didn’t make the lemon curd (even as a child I preferred with with whipped cream as a frosting), but rather served it along side fresh strawberries and blueberries and whipped cream. It was a big success with kids and adults alike. Thanks Granny!
December 2020 update
I made this again for our coronavirus Christmas dinner – nuclear family only – and it was a huge success. This time I didn’t add any cream to the filling, and I added only 1/2 cup of cream to the remainder to use as frosting. I think this is how I’ll make it in the future.
This cake was extra special because we used lemons from the tree that started growing on its own besides our house – probably a child of the lemon tree our neighbors used to have.
November 2022 Update
I made the cake for my Thanksgiving dinner this year at my oldest’s request. Even though I didn’t eat it until the next day, as I was too tired for dessert that night, it was perfect and just like I remembered it from my childhood. Like the time before I didn’t add cream to the filling and only 1/2 cup of cream to the frosting, and it’s definite the right way to make it.
Granny’s Sponge Cake
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 tsp. lemon rind, grated
- 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F
Mix sifted flour with the baking powder and the salt. Sift three additional times. Set aside.
Beat together 4 yolks with the cold water and lemon rind until light and frothy. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar and then the flour. Set aside.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon juice and beat until it has stiff peaks.
Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture. Pour into ungreased 8″ baking pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool, unmold and frost.
Granny’s Lemon Frosting
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 4 tsp. butter
- 2 tsp. lemon rind
- 1/2 cup to 2 cups whipped cream*
Combine the sugar, flour, eggs, lemon juice, water and butter in a medium pot. Put pot on top of a double boiler, or directly under a very low heat, and cook stirring constantly until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely.
Fold in the lemon rind and 1/2 cup of whipped cream. Spread between cake layers. Fold in the remaining 1 1/2 cups whipped cream, and frost top and sides of cake.
*Note: I think it comes out better if you don’t fold in any cream for the filling and use only 1/2 cup of whipped cream for the frosting.