East Meets (Carib)England

by Sarah on April 29, 2011 · 15 comments

[I will mail you a Chai-Spiced Sponge Cake if you can figure out the thought process behind this post title. Because I’m still not sure I even get it.]

In honor of the Royal Wedding, I made a Royal Trifle.
OK, fine. It’s more of a Tropical Trifle, but I chose to honor (and condone?) Britains storied history as a maniacal monarchy, ruling over the Caribbean islands they colonized and possessed in the 19th Century.*
*As I’ve told you before, my English literature background tends to fall into the category of “women and children who suffer discrimination and hardship under the occasionally ‘iron’ fists of a ruling class.”

Also, if I were a queen, I’d want to be a queen in the Caribbean…or South America. Violent uprisings, poverty, and potential unrest be darned!

[Besides, I’d rule over Costa Rica…home of peace, happiness, and Pura Vida. :)]

Although I lack a true trifle bowl, I figured I could “toast” the new couple by using a wine glass.
The best part about this trifle? The sponge cake. In homage to my first introduction to Great Britain in elementary school history class (or, as we call it,”social studies”) I recalled the East India Tea Company (and my change-your-life Chai Granola recipe)…and I made it Chai-Spiced. :)
Unlike the Sons of Liberty, however, you won’t want to dress up like a Native American and throw this into Boston Harbor.

Although you could eat it at a more civilized tea party if you like.
You can make a trifle using store-bought pound cake, or angel food cake if you like, but I decided to give myself at least a bit of a challenge and make a sponge cake from scratch. I never knew how easy it was! To start, mix together 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
You’ll also need an assortment of what I call “the Chai spices”: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.Now, the recipe I adapted required up to five minutes of constant mixing with an electric mixer, and, as I’d already completed my upper body weight lifting for the day (and lack a stand mixer, since, unlike Will & Kate, I am not coming into a number of wedding presents today*), I decided to honor the king of The Smart Kitchen—my food processor–and let him do the work.

*Do you think someone bought them a KitchenAid? Probably not, right? Is being a princess really worth it if you don’t get to receive a KitchenAid for your wedding?
Beat the eggs for about 2 minutes, until they are super frothy.
The bonus of using the food processor was that I could actually stream the sugar into the egg*…something very difficult to do normally when you are trying to photograph, hold the mixer, and pour with just two hands.
*This would have been an even better bonus had I remembered I was supposed to stream the sugar at first…and not after I’d already dumped 1/2 a cup of sugar in the processor bowl.
I let that go for about 4-5 minutes, until it started to thicken up a bit.Then it was time for some water, vanilla extract, and orange!
I could have zested the orange and then used its juice in the batter, but frankly I didn’t want to squeeze the orange just for a tablespoon of juice when I could be eating it whole later…so I stole a tablespoon of juice from my roommate instead.
I zested about 2 teaspoons of orange peel directly into the batter, using the small part of my cheese grater. [Adding microplane to my imaginary wedding registry along with that KitchenAid mixer…]
Since I did this directly into the mixture, I’m not sure exactly how much I used…but it was probably about 2-3 teaspoons or so.
Blend that up, then slowly add in the spiced flour mixture. Stop beating when everything is incorporated. It will look like it’s really runny….but you’ll realize it’s much thicker than it appears once you go to pour!
You’ll want to put the batter into an 8″ square pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
I was shocked, actually, at how perfectly it set.Not going to lie….this might be one of my favorite baking inventions EVER. It’s so soft and, well, spongy without being eggy.
So you could stop right there and serve this like you would angel food, pound, or shortcake.
[Does it strike anyone else as funny that if you combine all of these cakes you have a short sponge, dressed as an angel, either lifting weights, getting ready to punch someone, or standing on a scale…depending on your interpretation of the word “pound”?]: topped with berries, whipped cream, some sort of compote, perhaps chocolate…or you could carry on and make a trifle.Now, after deciding to make the sponge cake from scratch, you’d think I’d be raring to go on a homemade custard, too. Ha! I’d pretty much expended all of my lazy baker energy on that cake…but I was in luck, because my British roommate said, “In England, we usually just used a powder packet of custard and added water.”

Instant pudding mixed with 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup of Cool-Whip =
my favorite shortcut (shortcake?) to custard

Assembly is easy……just layer cake chunks with custard, more Cool-Whip (optional, but encouraged), and fruit.

Oh, and don’t forget the coconut.

Perhaps they should start serving this on the Royal Caribbean?

East India Chai-Spiced Sponge Cake
(Adapted from Cooking Light‘s Lemon Sponge Cake)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium-sized bowl.
2. In a food processor, or in a bowl with electric mixer, beat eggs until white and frothy, about 2 minutes.
3. Slowly pour in sugar and beat until smooth and thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
4. Add water, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat well.
5. Slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture. Beat until just combined.
6. Pour batter into an 8″ square pan, prepared with cooking spray.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.