Two years ago my darling mother sent me the most wonderful cookbook, Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters. Like the rest of the title says it has..."more than 100 years of recipes discovered from family cookbooks, original journals, scraps of paper & grandmother's kitchen." People, people, people, these are the recipes we all want! They are tried and true, and have withstood the test of time and tummies...and I have loved every recipe that I've made from this book.
"2006 To my favorite cook and beloved daughter - she can whip up amazing things with just a piece of dried bread, a little lemon zest, some unschucked pine nuts and a touch of Ethiopian thyme! Eek, I think it's a carbuncle! Love, Mom (Write to me at the Utah State Hosp. for the over-the-hill-wits.)"
Just so you know...I learned everything from her!
With St. Paddy's Day right around the corner, I decided it was time to give Esther Pullman and Mary Brinkman's Irish Sponge Cake a try...and this is what the Brass Sisters had to say about it: "The recipe for this Irish Sponge Cake came from Esther Pullman who grew up in Purchase, New York. It was given to her by Mary Brinkman, an inspired Irish baker who made special cakes for family parties. The sublime sugar crust makes this sponge cake extraordinary."
Well I agree with them 98%...I love sponge cake - but because it's a sponge I wanted to let it soak a little something up. I gave their recipe a little update by poking holes in the finished cake and adding an orange sugar glaze and now we're talking s u b l i m e !!!
The mister is part Irish, and that part would be his liver....and while he loves bland food, this cake isn't bland - and it is one of his very favorite desserts.
Irish Orange Sponge Cake - Adapted from Esther Pullman and Mary Brinkman's Irish Sponge Cake from Heirloom Baking With The Brass Sisters
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cake flour
Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch Bundt pan with vegetable spray. Dust the sides and bottom of pan with 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
Beat egg yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until thick, and light yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Place egg whites in another bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or, as I had to do, take the egg yolks out of the mixing bowl, put into small bowl. Rinse out the mixing bowl and the paddle. Dry. Replace on mixer and then add the egg whites to the clean bowl....who has TWO mixing bowls to fit their electric mixer?!) Beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat again until sugar is incorporated.
Add egg yolks to egg whites. Add vanilla and continue beating with paddle attachment at medium speed until combined. Fold in cake flour. Pour batter into Bundt pan. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar on top of batter. Bake 30 minutes, or until tester inserted in meddle comes out clean. Cake should have a nice yellow color. Place on rack to cool. When completely cool, invert cake onto plate. (I had a little trouble with this and had to use a knife to loosen all the sides - a sponge cake coated in sugar is a bit tricky but it eventually came out in one piece.) If you are not going to add the glaze then to serve the sponge cake slice with a serrated knife using a sawing motion. Store under cake dome or loosely wrapped in wax paper at room temperature. Recipe for the glaze follows.
Using a wooden skewer, poke holes all around the top of the cake. In a small bowl, combine the zest of one large naval orange and enough orange juice to equal 1/2. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir with a spoon to combine, then use a whisk to until all sugar is dissolved. Using a spoon, drizzle orange glaze over top of cake, filling holes, and letting the glaze drip down the sides. Use all of the glaze - it's much better this way.
I was on my way to do the laundry...but something sugary got in my way!