Saturday, March 26, 2016


At the end of the days of Lenten fasting comes a time of sweetness. Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, strawberries are rampant. It’s time to celebrate with a lovely cake such as bizcocho de huevos—egg-rich sponge cake.

Sweet sponge cake with fresh strawberries.

Bizcocho, hecho con huevos,”--sponge cake, made with eggs--said a dear friend, as she presented me with a gift of heavenly sweet sponge cake. Indeed, her bizcocho was made with freshly-laid eggs from the hens she kept on the back patio. In those days, she carried her eggs to a nearby tienda, a tiny food shop, weighed them, and purchased the same weight of sugar (minus a tablespoon for the shells) and half their weight of flour. A very simple recipe.

The same recipe appears in Sephardic (Spanish Jewish) cookbooks, where it is called pan de España, or “Spanish cake”.

Sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream.

Sponge cake with chocolate sauce.

Plain bizcocho appears on breakfast buffets in fine hotels. It’s served as merienda, afternoon “tea,” with hot chocolate, coffee or tea. Split and filled with fruit jam or pastry cream, the cake becomes an elegant dessert. It makes a fine base for fresh fruits, topped with whipped cream, if desired.

Fresones--giant strawberries--from Huelva (Andalusia) are as delicious as they look.

Add a bowl of whipped cream.

Today bakeries make bizcocho with fewer eggs and added shortening. Many recipes call for baking powder. But here is the original sponge cake, as I learned to make it and as village women still make it.

Sponge Cake
Bizcocho de Huevos

Eight large eggs weigh just about exactly 500 grams. Half the weight of flour is 250 grams—or 2 cups + 3 tablespoons (I rounded off to 2 ¼ cups). Five hundred grams of sugar is 2 ½ cups—but I used a little less, 2 ¼ cups.

You will need a 9- or 10-inch cake pan at least 4 inches deep. (I used a spring-form mold.) Otherwise, use 2 or 3 layer cake pans or a rectangular sheet pan. Baking time will vary depending on depth of pan.

Warming the eggs slightly in hot water helps them to increase their volume when beating.

Serves 12 to 16.

Huevos de campo (free-range eggs).
8 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 ¼ cups flour, sifted
Confectioners’ sugar

Place the eggs in a bowl and cover them with hot tap water. Allow to stand 10 minutes and drain.

Preheat oven to 350º. Have ready a greased 10-inch spring-form mold (or two 9 X 14-inch pans), the bottom lined with baking parchment. 

Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a large mixing bowl and the yolks in a medium mixing bowl. (Break the eggs, one by one, separating the white into a small bowl before adding it to the large mixing bowl. If any of the yolks should happen to break into the white, place the whole egg with the yolks. Use a clean small bowl to separate the next egg, so that no yolk mixes with the whites.)

Beat whites stiff.
Beat the egg whites on high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in the lemon juice and salt.

Beat yolks and sugar until thick.
Beat the egg yolks until combined. Gradually beat in the sugar and lemon zest. Beat the yolks until they are thick and pale in color, about 5 minutes.

On low speed, beat the yolks into the whites (or, fold them in by hand).

Sift ½ cup of flour over the batter and fold it in. Sift and fold in the remaining flour in half-cup additions.  Combine well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes without opening the oven. Test the cake by pressing lightly in the center—cake should spring back. Figure 50 to 60 minutes for  the 10-inch pan. (Shallow rectangular pans will need less baking time.)

Cool cake on a rack.
Remove cake from the spring form while still warm. Allow the cake to cool on a rack. Place it on a cake platter and dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar. 

Sift confectioners' sugar over the top of the cake.

Happy, sweet springtime!

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely perfect sweet cake for springtime! Delicious!