Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Barefoot Cake

I thought this name best captures the simplicity of this light airy cake, which is taking me a bit off the usual healthy organic route I’m experimenting lately. But you see, there’s a reason for that. This old fashioned sponge cake (this name sounds much less appealing…as a kid I actually thought it was made out of a sponge…), contains white flour and granulated sugar, but the fact it consists mostly eggs (6 eggs) made it as a healthy dinner option at my house when I was little (You can only imagine my excitement and gratitude for eating a cake as a meal). This was my comfort cake by any means. I remember its wonderful airiness and fluffy moist texture conducted so perfectly only by my grandmother, who used to bake this as overly high golden puffed goodness with a thin crispy top. This cake didn’t need any attachments, as it stayed humble and plain in its appearance. Its soft melt-on-your tongue crumbs said it all.
Calling it The Barefoot Cake makes a lot of sense to me now, since there’re truly many memories and stories attached to its flavor which keeps on bringing nostalgic moments. It was usually made as a ‘welcome home’ surprise, and actually was made by my grandmother years and years back as the ‘end of the week’ cake for my little mother (it’s weird to call her this way) at the time.
Ok, So it seems like this simple cake only brings me to the point of endless rambling, but it’s only because I’ve been quite obsessed with trying to duplicate my grandma’s perfect result I haven’t tasted anywhere else. And yes, her cake was THAT good.
Last night, as a ‘welcome home’ surprise for my brother, I’ve decided to try again and bake this marvelous cake, leave it naked (ok, it was only HALF-naked…I put some hot melting chocolate on the side, accompanied by creamy coffee ice cream) and even invite my grandma to observe the outcome. I was quite nervous since this sweet old lady knew her way in the kitchen back in her days, producing flawless cakes.
How hard can it be to follow up a recipe you ask and still mess it up? Well, it is very possible, after my grandmother’s original recipe got lost somehow (she didn't need one anyway since she baked it with her eyes closed) while the baking temperature is still an issue. And don’t you dare think I’m even suggesting my sweet naive nana is behind all this…
Lets also not forget the separated eggs procedure and the beating of the egg whites I’m usually trying do avoid (but no more!). One of my last attempts is still well marked in my memory.

As you might have guessed, Last night’s dinner was indeed “The Barefoot”, this time MY version to my grandmother’s legendary sponge cake, and it might not contain any whole wheat or grains but it remains the same comforting mount of sweet peaks I remembered from my childhood. The final result turned out really good if you wondered, and even my grandma gave her approval (and that’s an achievement in itself). Yet somehow it wasn’t just like my nana’s original flavor and feel to it. I guess that would keep me busy for the years to come.

My grandmother’s Barefoot Cake

6 separated eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (I believe my grandma used a bit less)
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup flour

* * *
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325F) and grease a 26 cm (10-inch) round cake pan.
Combine the egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat at high speed until thick and light in color. Gradually add in the oil.

In a different clean bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks are formed. On high speed, gradually add the remaining sugar (2/3 cup) and beat until the egg whites are stiff but still moist.

Pour half of the egg yolks mixture over the egg whites, sift half of the flour on top and fold until nearly incorporated. Repeat with the remaining egg yolks mixture and flour until combined.

Pour the batter into the pan in the lower third of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until puffed and golden. Reduce the temperature to 150°C (300F) and bake for about 10-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 45 minutes before removing it from the pan.

I hope you have at least one special grandma who can bake this wonderful puffed golden delight for you.


design for mankind. said...


Scatterbrain Tal said...

Yeah, it's simple but seriously good.:)
If only my grandma knew I was writing about her cake...she didn't make it for years.

♥ Tiny Red said...

looks very yummyy!!! i want some of that!!! :)

Scatterbrain Tal said...

Thankss:) I'm baking another one this week, you should come over;)

Jessie Cacciola said...

sounds so yummy! thank you. xo

Jessie Cacciola said...

ps. aren't grandmas' recipes the best! ;) mine is baked mac n' cheese with evaporated milk and a breadcrumb crust -- making for a sort of casserole. (brings back so many memories of being in her kitchen as a kid.)

Scatterbrain Tal said...

Oh yes, grandmas in the kitchen is a blessed thing. We have the best memories from them, don't we? Too bad I was too young to fully appreciate it at the time.:]

Welcome back btw! :O)

Jessie Cacciola said...

thank you! and so glad you enjoyed the interview! (and my tomatoes. ;) xo

please sir said...

Oh yum - looks so good - and great title!

Scatterbrain Tal said...

Thank you:) I thought this name best represents its simplicity.