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Experiments in Spongecake

by VM Brasseur on May 20th, 2007

For my birthday my folks got me the two volume set of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Simone Beck.

Though I haven’t had the chance to browse through either volume yet, I felt compelled to make something—anything—from one of them. Even though I don’t bake often, a few weeks ago I decided to make her Gâteau à l’orange, aka “orange spongecake.” Trusting St. Julia, I decided to make this a layer cake frosted with the orange-filling she suggests.

The cake? Very good but a smidge drier than I would have liked. The frosting? Outstanding. The combination of the two? Um…er… Well, let’s just say that I came to the conclusion that spongecake should not be frosted. Filled? Now that’s a different matter.

This evening I started my second experiment with this recipe: a two-layer orange spongecake, the layers brushed with Grand Marnier and separated by a layer of marscapone which had been whipped with honey and orange blossom water. The top of the cake was dusted with powdered sugar.

How did it turn out? I’m not sure yet. I think it has promise. It looks lovely enough though not as tall as the layer cakes we’re used to seeing in the popular media. As I’m hardly about to eat an entire cake by myself it’s bound for the office tomorrow where my voracious coworkers can be my willing guinea pigs. I’ll probably have a slice tomorrow as the breakfast of champions: coffee and cake.

Regardless of how it turns out, I have a third variation in mind. Two layers, separated with ganache which is made with cream in which I’ve steeped orange zest, the whole thing dusted with cocoa. Sounds like a winner to me. We’ll see how it actually turns out.

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