There is a long standing and still unsolved mystery in our family. It involves winter, strawberries and sponge cake.
We of the younger generation never really experienced it, but Nan, her sisters, and their children did. Nanna would always bake a sponge as a birthday cake. Always with fresh cream and strawberries. Now most people would say that is traditional and to be expected. But, in the middle of winter, back in the period 1930 to 1960, when there were no supermarkets with a year round supply of strawberries, it started a mystery.
Sure Nanna and Poppa lived on a farm with their family, but Nan, Sheila, Pam, Audrey and Betty do not recall seeing any sign of a strawberry being ripe in the colder months. Even after Nanna and Poppa moved in to town and had a good vegie patch in the backyard, there was still no sign of a fruiting strawberry in winter.
Nanna’s sponge recipe of choice was the Fielder’s Cornflour Sponge, usually found on the side of the box of cornflour. Nanna never had a failed sponge with that recipe. Of course Nanna also had fresh eggs readily available, even after the move to town.
To this day no one knows the answer. When Nanna passed away in 2001 the answer went with her.
FIELDER’S SPONGE SANDWICH
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 heaped tablespoons cornflour
1 dessertspoon plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Beat the egg whites to a stiff froth and add the egg yolks. Add the sugar gradually and beat until stiff and the sugar has dissolved. Add the sifted cornflour, flour and baking powder. Place the mixture into 20cm sandwich tins.
Bake in a moderately hot oven, 180C gas, 215C for 15 minutes
Cool 5 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto wire rack. Fill with fresh whipped cream, strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. Top with more cream and strawberries.
Thanks for indulging a memory.