The unbearable lightness of sponge….

The winsome Nigella, if winsome is the word, has never been high on my list of favourite cookery writers. Perfectly formed and polished to a high shine she glides like an iceberg, only the top third of her ever visible, through the culinary burlesque that is cookery on TV. What lies beneath? The plimsoll line of the screen guards this secret, but such is the seduction created by her come hither eyes luring us to delightful gluttony from under long lashed fluttering lids and by the sensual licking of cream or chocolate from perfectly manicured fingers, that one would assume that the ability to fellate well would be the very cornerstone of a good square meal. Oral sex is jolly good, but it’s nice to have a change. The upshot of this very unfair diatribe is that my last internet search for “what to do with a surfeit of egg yolks” revealed a brilliant, fat free, egg yolk driven sponge cake recipe written by none other than Nigella. As I have no clear memory of having made a sponge cake before or even of having previously especially enjoyed one, I can only assume the power of the Siren, Nigella, drew me inexorably onto the Scylla and Charybdis of sponge cake and raspberry jam, for which I am eternally grateful. I was so intent on cutting a slice to eat that I forgot to add the whipped, there had to be a sexual overtone, cream. I won’t make that mistake again.

Nigella Lawson’s Egg Yolk Sponge Cake

3 egg yolks

2 tablespoons hot water (not boiling)

1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar / 112 gms

1/2 cup self raising flour, sifted/ 75 gms

pinch salt, optional (i don’t usually put in)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 180°C- if your oven is quite hot try 170°C.

Beat egg yolks and hot water till creamy then gradually add the sugar and beat till thick and pale. Add salt and vanilla.

Fold in the flour and milk alternately till combined. Pour into a greased and lined 20cm round tin and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Split cake in half then fill with jam and whipped cream then dust with icing sugar. Turn the oven down a bit if it’s browning too fast.


Beat the egg yolks and hot water over a saucepan of hot water. Not doing this makes for a very thin cake indeed. It might be better to make two cakes – I think I will next time, which will be very soon. 

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in baking, Baking, cake, Cooking, desserts, Digital photography, Egg Yolk Sponge Cake, Eggs, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Nigella Lawson, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, raspberries, Recipes, Sugar, Uncategorized, Writing, yolks and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The unbearable lightness of sponge….

  1. Sounds good, Roger. And looks delightful. Your narrative, delicious as always. 🙂

  2. dick polak says:

    What perfect prose and apt description of naughty Nigella ! Bravo ! Bravo ! another masterpiece !

  3. The writing was my dessert after lunch today, Roger. 🙂

  4. I’m flabberghasted by the mere fact that you made a Nigella recipe, much less posted about it. I’m impressed. I will say this: I’ve met her in person, and her frontal assets are quite larger than they appear on television. Also, her show is quite tolerable compared to the drunken stupor that is Sandra Lee.

  5. … she never wears an apron. Smiles a lot, has beautiful manicured hands, is fully made up; gee, Roger, you could have been describing me at meal prep time!

  6. Mad Dog says:

    I’m not big on cake, but I went to a birthday party on Saturday and the cake was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. Later I found out that the cream was actually mascarpone based 😉

  7. Eha says:

    Roger dearheart: have you never thought some of us just might be a little more respectful about the ‘culinary burlesque’ on TV? There are many other fish, perchance not called ‘Nigella’, floating in the waves . . . ?

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    Around here, excess yolks are never a problem, Roger. They do make a very nice pasta dough, you know. When I was a boy, learning how to pluck and dress a chicken, it was essential that the hen’s under-developed eggs — all yolks — be removed gingerly from the body cavity. That night’s pasta was the yellow-est pasta of the week.
    Needless to say, I never enjoyed sponge cake until after I’d left home. 🙂

  9. I love the title and the photos, but I think I may be the only person in the northern hemisphere (or maybe the world) never to have seen Nigella (although I’ve heard a lot about her!) and I don’t think I’d ever go to so much trouble to make a cake. Chicago John’s comment has reminded me of those unlaid eggs after a chicken was slaughtered, a memory from my childhood days on Welsh smallholdlings.

  10. Tandy says:

    My problem is always too many egg whites!

  11. Fat free? Sponge? Where do I sign?

  12. Michelle says:

    You naughty boy. (Great-looking cake though!)

  13. “…culinary burlesque that is cookery on TV”? Too funny! And so true.

    Have you ever made Gâteau Breton? Lots of egg yolks and butter…divine with a cup of tea.

  14. spree says:

    Amusing as ever Roger. In Nigella’s defense (as if she needs one), though sultry and a bit slick, words slip off her tongue with an effortless seductiveness – and not a one of her recipes has ever disappointed me. (However, they could easily accumulate on one’s hips, or perhaps even above the waist, if consumed solo, as a bedtime snack, as she’s wont to do.)

  15. Brillaint as ever Roger. Not a huge Nigella fan either (how can anyone smile so much and still be sincere!) but she does turn out some good recipes…not forgetting the whipping!

  16. I love Nigella, but, I will say we can’t all look that good in the kitchen.. I wish 😉 This cake looks addictive!

  17. Karen says:

    You are such a clever devil and made me laugh so hard…we really only see 1/3 of her don’t we. I always share your comments with my husband as he always enjoys your whit…he throughly enjoyed your comments. I do have to say that the sponge looks light and airy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.