Sponge Cake with Cranberry Curd

This cake's airy texture is due entirely to whipped egg whites. We've paired the layers with sweet cranberry curd and finished the cake with whipped cream for a rich winter dessert that's as light as snow. The sponge cake recipe was shared with us by cookbook author Mark Bittman, in the Holiday 2018 issue of Sift magazine.

Prep
1 hr
Bake
20 to 25 mins
Total
1 hr 20 mins
Yield
one 8" or 9" layer cake
Sponge Cake with Cranberry Curd

Instructions

  1. To make the curd: Place the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest, salt, and rosemary (if using) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries pop and start to break down, abut 10 minutes.

  2. Remove from the heat, remove and discard the rosemary sprig, and purée with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Strain the purée into a clean medium saucepan.

  3. Whisk in the butter, eggs, and egg yolks. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

  4. Remove the curd from the heat and transfer it to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap that touches the surface, and refrigerate until cold.

  5. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease your choice of two 8" (at least 2" deep) or 9" round pans. Line the bottoms with parchment, then butter and flour the parchment.

  6. Combine the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes pale and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

  7. In a clean bowl with a clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating on medium-high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 2 minutes. Fold the yolk mixture, one third at a time, into the whites.

  8. Sift the flour over the mixture and fold gently until incorporated.

  9. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges just begin to pull away from the pan and the center springs back when lightly touched.

  10. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes turn the layers out of the pans, peel off the paper, and return to the rack to finish cooling right side up.

  11. To make the whipped cream: In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

  12. To make the sugared cranberries: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries and return to a boil; simmer for 1 minute.

  13. Remove from the heat and, with a slotted spoon, take the cranberries out of the syrup and roll them in superfine (Baker's Special) sugar until coated. Place on a rack to dry.

  14. To assemble: Split the cake layers horizontally and place half of one on a serving plate. Spread with 1 cup cranberry curd.

  15. Place the other half of the layer on top and spread with another cup of curd. Repeat with half of the second layer. Top with the remaining curd and cake, then frost the top and sides with whipped cream. Garnish with the sugared cranberries.

  16. Store the cake, covered in the refrigerator, for up to four days. Freeze for longer storage.