The Fanny Cradock basic sponge mix is flour, eggs, sugar and a little butter. She suggests a technique I haven't used before though, involving two bowls and boiling water. I'm intrigued. It seems a bit like making a Genoise Sponge to me. I'm here to learn, so here goes. Eggs and sugar in a small bowl, and then pop that into a larger bowl which is a third filled with boiling water. Whisk together until the mixture becomes thick and foamy. It's lovely to watch the science happening infront of your eyes, as the mix changes colour, consistency and character. Foamy it is.
The flour then needs to be folded in very gently, and Fanny says this MUST be done with a rubber spatula. Of course she doesn't explain why, but does put in bold letters DO NOT BEAT, so I don't. Fanny suggests adding lemon zest here, but I haven't any so add some Vanilla Paste instead. There's always one thing! The next stage confuses me a little, again just because of the lack of explanation. Fanny says I should add 'softened' butter which is not oil. Her explanation of what that means says that I should 'soften the butter without oiling it'. My brain hurts and all I can think to do is melt it, almost. So decision made that's what I do, and fold it in gently again as instructed.
At this stage, Fanny says I can turn it into a pudding bowl, or for more fun spoon it into individual tea cups for steaming. I always find it hard to pass up the extra fun option, so teacups it is! Butter them as you would a bowl, and half fill. The mixture is glossy now with the butter and tastes good - cooks privilege of course of licking that spatula.
The large pudding would need 2 1/2 hours of steaming, but these teacups only need 50 minutes. They are covered in oiled paper and foil as usual. I'm safe in the knowledge that as they are small I can use my tea-towel to pick them up when done, no burnt fingers or nasty crochet required. Fanny shows a photo of her humorous presentation which is basically the sponges removed from the teacups and 'filled' with jam and given an angelica handle. Fanny recommends Apricot Jam, but I'm using Three Berry Preserve from Mackays. I actually found them quite hard to get out of the teacups (despite being well buttered) and probably would've just left them in it. Clearly I am not as much fun as Fanny hoped. The puds themselves are springy and soft, and tasty too. I wonder why angelica isn't as popular as it once was, it's so versatile as a decoration - I'm sure those neighbours who are crocheting furiously would be totally convinced I was about to tuck into an actual teacup... Wouldn't they?