cooking success

Spong Drops are a big thing in my family. Only Nan could make them exactly right – with light fluffy sponge baked just so. My sister, my mum and me have all tried and failed to recreate them in past years. But lately I was thinking that I’ve upskilled heaps in baking. I’ve gotten so much better through practice and learning through reading.

For our October birthday celebrations I decided to try making sponge drops. I can remember making them with Nan, and her pearls of wisdom “you have to have the oven on fan bake” and “these beaters are no good, my ones at home are much better”. I have Nan’s recipe carefully printed out in my own 12 year old handwriting with circles over the lower case ‘i’s.

I made good sponge drops in October, but I made one major mistake: one of the egg yolks broke into the egg whites and that meant the whites didn’t get as stiff as they should have. The resulting drops were still very good, they tasted right and although they were pretty flat they were declared a success by my family. We can all remember Nan’s ones pretty well, she used to make them every time she visited.

On Friday night I resolved to make sponge drops again for Thanksgiving dinner dessert – my reasoning was that they are light and easy to eat. We’d have heaps of pie as well and I thought they’d be a good counter point. I was careful to separate the eggs over a third bowl, one by one so it didn’t matter if one broke. I didn’t break a single yolk, it all went perfectly. I even used my Nan’s method of egg separating (hold the egg insides in your hand and let the white drip through your fingers. It’s a bit gross but very effective.) I beat the whites extra hard, concentrating on being patient and beating after every addition of sugar and the egg whites. The batter looked perfect and behaved differently from the last lot I made.

The drops baked in our hot oven in just about 4 minutes, a lot quicker than the 15 I have on the recipe, but they came out rounded and puffy and then folded down into crinkle top pikelet-looking things, just like Nan’s. Yesterday I added the cream centre (some with jam inside at Lee’s request) and covered them with icing sugar. I tried one, heart in my mouth…

They’re good. I think I managed to make them like Nan did. The final (true) test comes this morning, I saved some for my Mum and Dad to try. Sally who had never had them before, declared them a ‘mouth party’ which is very encouraging and there was general appreciation after dinner, along with the chocolate covered strawberries and various pies.

But it was both moving and exciting to get so close to the perfect turnout on this particular recipe. I want to say that my Nan was guiding me, but I don’t think she was. I think I’ve just accepted her wisdom and learned enough skill of my own.

Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner, the other thing I am very happy with myself for cooking is the turkey. I bought it, defrosted it, removed the giblets and neck (ew), washed it thoroughly, rubbed the inside of the cavity with lemon and salt, filled it with moist, flavour giving things and roasted it and it came out awesome.

Here is the recipe I used. The secret to the not-drying-out is all the oven bag. The meat was lovely, not dry at all, just flavourey and good. It was a big 5kg turkey and it was well admired. I feel like a proper 50s house wife or maybe just a proper hostess of Thanksgiving dinner.

It was awesome to see all my friends and eat all the delicious food they brought too. Sophie’s cornbread, Sally’s mashed potatoes and the corn and the broccolli and the peas…it was all so good.

This Sunday, suffering from an overeating hangover I am thankful to my husband, who carved the bird and made the gravy. To my lovely friends who are so much fun to be around. To my Sookie Stackhouse dress for keeping me cool on a stinking hot night while looking pretty. To the internet for providing advice and excellent recipes. To my Mum and my Nan for teaching me so much about cooking and giving me free range in the kitchen when I was growing up and curious.

I’m also thankful to the weather, for finally starting up summer. I’ve worn dresses three days running now and I love it.