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Cake, even during a heat wave

It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and ridiculously hot in an awful lot of places. You don't want to heat up the kitchen by using the oven, but you've got a craving for cake. Plain spongecake is easy to make; you can bake it in the oven, or you can steam it in a Chinese steamer... and, it turns out, you can even microwave it.

(serves 2 - 4)

You will need a round microwave-safe dish, about 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 cm) in diameter and at least 3 inches (8 cm) deep - the cake will rise up higher than an oven-baked cake. Butter it lightly, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

3 "large" eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (*)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

(*) You may substitute 1/2 teaspoon lemon or almond extract, or 1 tablespoon liqueur, or 1/2 teaspoon finely grated citrus peel.

Place the eggs, still in their shells, in a large bowl, and fill the bowl with the hottest possible tap water. Let stand until the eggs are warm to the touch. (This makes them fluffier when you beat them.)

Pour off the water and crack the eggs into the bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and flavoring, then use an electric mixer to beat the mixture until it is pale and very fluffy. Gently fold in the flour, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Microwave on full power for 4 minutes. It won't look done, but it will be; don't overcook this cake, or the texture will resemble balsa wood! Leave the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice the cake in half horizontally if you want a layer cake. Frost (and fill) as desired. Make sure the frosting covers the whole surface of the cake, right down to the plate, and once you've served some, cover the cut surfaces tightly with plastic wrap, because spongecake dries out very quickly.


1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Very hot tap water

Stir together the cocoa and confectioner's sugar. Add the butter and vanilla, then very gradually stir in hot water until the mixture is the thickness you want. Spread, spoon, or pour over cooled cake.

Also posted to acelightning


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 23rd, 2011 11:32 am (UTC)
I am making this today just because I am SO curious! Thanks!
Jul. 23rd, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC)
Just be careful not to overcook it. The first time I tried it, I overcooked it by a couple of minutes, and it went beyond balsa wood to ceiling tile - I couldn't even cut it. If the top looks underdone, it'll finish cooking as it cools in the pan. (Someone over on Dreamwidth expressed concern about using hot tap water in the frosting. It only takes a few teaspoonfuls, and you're not going to be eating this all the time, so I don't think there's any risk of lead poisoning. But you can heat a little bit of bottled water in the microwave till it steams, if you'd rather.)
Jul. 23rd, 2011 12:22 pm (UTC)
Seriously, I am *so not worried* about lead poisoning in my tap water. I'd have been dead years ago as it's mostly what I drink.
Jul. 23rd, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
There was a study a while ago that showed that in a few cases, the level of lead was slightly higher in hot tap water than in cold - makes sense, because most things dissolve more readily in hot water. But even then it was well below the danger level. Nevertheless, the official health advice is not to drink or cook with water from the hot tap. (However, my husband has been known to get an emergency caffeine fix by mixing instant coffee with hot water, and I often brew tea for iced tea by dunking a tea bag or two in hot tap water. Neither of us seem to have lead poisoning yet!)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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