I adore this cake. It's an old family favourite and has so many memories attached to it. It was my 18th birthday cake, for example. Served with softly whipped cream and fresh fruit, it's truly divine.
When my mum came to visit me she brought a present with her: a box of duck eggs. She bought them from a farm stall near home to give me something exciting to bake with. Bless her.
I decided that this was the perfect recipe - the quality of the eggs really shines through, and it was easy to scale to the different size.
Having never used duck eggs before, I was surprised to see how massive the yolks are - at least double the size of chicken yolks. The egg whites seemed clearer too.
To scale the recipe so it wasn't an enormous cake with 5 duck eggs, I used the ratio to work out how much I would need of flour for 3 eggs - it's 1.6 recurring. Therefore as my three eggs weighed 267g, I had 167g of flour. Just for interest, I weighed 5 chicken eggs - they came out as 335g.
I think the bigger yolk:white ratio gave a slightly different texture to the cake (although this could also be because I mildly overcooked this one) and the general agreement was that chicken eggs are preferable. Which is useful - you don't need to be searching out duck eggs to make the perfect version!
It has quite an unusual texture in the cake itself - I can't quite describe it - and the outside is all crusty and crisp with sugar. The crust really is so yummy.
I'd quite like to see how this worked out as a loaf. My mum used to sometimes sprinkle the top with a little extra caster sugar to give extra crispy crunchiness. I wouldn't bother adding any other flavouring like vanilla - the flavour is quite wonderful on its own. We used to always split it in half and sandwich with the cream and berries/jam but unless you know you're going to be eating it that day, it's much nicer with fresh cream. I also really love it plain and this means you can have a nice slice without fancy bits.
Old Fashioned Sponge Cake
(Family recipe -
their weight in caster sugar
3 eggs weight of self raising flour
Preheat the oven to 180C. Fully line a 20cm/8" tin. If you have a balance scale, just use the eggs as weights for the other ingredients. If not, then weigh the eggs and divide the weight by five and then times by three for the flour. Beat the egg yolks together with the sugar until pale and thick and a ribbon of mixture from the whisk stays on the surface for the count of five. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl into stiff peaks. Carefully fold a quarter of the flour into the fluffy egg yolks, followed by a spoonful of whites, then repeat until the flour is folded in. Finish by folding in the remaining egg whites. Transfer to the tin. Bake for about 45-50 minutes - it should be crisp on top and a toothpick should come out cleanly. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
(Makes one 8" cake)