An Obsession Becomes Villa-Realed
I have not written any posts on this website for almost a year, and I am not ashamed for leaving such an empty space in time. When I am distracted with life, focusing on writing is difficult. Last summer I spoke of the hand-crafted accessories inspired by the children’s show on Amazon Video, “Tumble Leaf” designed and made for my daughter (and others like her). Today our household’s love for Fig and his friends is still as strong the day we introduced season one to her three years ago.
At the beginning of season three Fig’s best buddy, a caterpillar named Stick, makes enough sponge cakes that stack into a tall skinny tower. Thanks to my craving for the mocha sponge cake rolls my mother would bake during my childhood, I have developed a sparse recipe that takes advantage of my All-Clad stovetop cookware and does not use any leavening agents thanks to the intensely beaten eggs.
Recipe makes one cake at 8 inches across and about 2 inches high
15 minutes preparation; 25 minutes baking time; up to 20 minutes cooling time.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick = 4 ounces)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla (I am guilty of using 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (The cake in the photo was made with 1 tbs of cinnamon and 3 tbs of AP flour)
Cook/Bake tools (Hardware)
Oven-proof pot/pan with lid measuring 8 inches diameter (I use either my All-Clad 3.5qt or 1.5 qt saucepans)
Handmixer or standmixer (If you can do this by hand without any electrical help, I salute you!)
Medium bowl (comfortably holding 4 to 6 cups while mixing)
Flexible spatula for scraping the bowl
Place the oven rack in the center, and make sure the pot’s height fits.
Preheat the oven at 375F.
Brown the butter in the pot on the stove.
I set my stove’s heat one notch less than medium with the timer set for 8 minutes, then turn off the stove to let the butter sit until the batter is ready.
NOTE: Unless taken out, the cake will absorb the browned bits at the bottom of the cake. If you do not want them for aesthetic reasons, pour the pot’s contents into a jar, clean/wipe the pot, and then carefully pour the amber liquid back into the pot.
While the butter is browning, beat the eggs, sugar, and optional molasses for 4 minutes.
Add the vanilla and salt; beat another minute.
Mix in the flour. Set bowl aside.
Swirl the butter around the pot to ensure a good coating of the bottom.
With the flexible spatula, evenly distribute the batter into the pot.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Turn off oven but leave pot inside for another 10 minutes. NOTE: Cake will fall.
Take pot out, and place lid on pot while cake cools for up to 20 minutes. (This re-adds the moisture lost in baking.)
Cake can stay in pot with lid, or placed under a cake dome/keeper to avoid dryness.