Harrogate Sponge Cake

August 1st is Yorkshire Day!  I know it’s nearly two weeks ago now but I’ve not had chance to update my blog as I’ve been away.  I was really excited to take part in Yorkshire Day as part of my role as organiser for York Clandestine Cake Club by holding a special event sponsored by Yorkshire Tea.  I will be writing a separate post about this very soon on Smart Cookie Sam although there is already some information about our fantastic event on the Clandestine Cake Club website.

Although I was born “over the border” in Darlington and grew up in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire has become a very special place to me since I moved here in 1992.  I have been here since although I did flit backwards and forwards to college in North Wales for the first two years as well as spending my first year teaching in Kent.  That didn’t work out, it was far too expensive, I came back “up North” to teach in Castleford and Pontefract.  Since 1997 I have lived in North Yorkshire and met, married and had two children here!  We have no intention of moving for the unforseeable future though Australia does sound tempting when it’s wintry and wet here!!

I am always on the lookout for traditional Yorkshire Baking recipes and enjoyed baking Ripon Spice Loaf a few months back. It was a huge favourite in our house and I took some into work too.  So, I was pleased to find a little Yorkshire Teatime Recipes Book in Ripon the other week and at £1.50 it was a bargain.

On page 15 is a recipe called Harrogate Sponge.  I have never ever heard of this before. Harrogate being my nearest big town and I go there for a lot of my shopping, ferrying the kids around, etc.  The book’s notes describe it as “a fat-less sponge with jam and/or whipped cream or with butter icing, best eaten fresh,” I tried Googling Harrogate Sponge and all that came up was a reference to the very same book!  I think I need to get investigating!

So, armed with the book and the ingredients I set about having a go for my Clandestine Cake Club event.  My Mum was there in the kitchen helping me.  She did the washing up, bless her!  Free range eggs and sugar were beaten together until the mixture was thick and creamy with my hand held whisk.  This I did for well over 5 minutes.  I then had to add 2 tablespoons of boiling water to the mixture and continue beating.  Once that was over I sifted in some self raising flour and baking powder, then folded in the rest carefully.  The mixture was carefully put into two greased and lined 8″ sandwich tins and baked in the oven.  The cakes seemed to bake a lot quicker than a regular sponge did.

After the cakes had come out of the oven they were left to cool on a rack.  We went out for a dog walk and came back to assemble the cakes.  This I did by spooning seedless raspberry jam on one cake, whipped cream on the other side.  To finish I dusted icing sugar on top of the cake using a doily as a stencil.  I would have loved to have a Yorkshire Rose but I didn’t so the doily had to do!

Fatless Harrogate Sponge all ready for the Clandestine Cake Club event.
Fatless Harrogate Sponge all ready for the Clandestine Cake Club event.

If anyone reading this does know more about Harrogate Sponge or other local baking recipes, do let me know! Many thanks!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

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