Pa de pessic (traditional Catalan sponge cake): like chewing a cloud
Bon dilluns a tothom!
When I greet you in Catalan it only means today is Catalan recipe day. A Catalan dessert recipe to be precise because it’s been a while since I posted the last one (see Coca de Sant Joan). You probably ask yourself why in this blog, ran by a Barcelona born and bred fella, you can’t read Catalan recipes more often. It is due to my parents’ origins who were born in Jaen, rural Andalucia. There are a lot of traditional recipes that I need to learn about because they were never cooked at home-I’m on it, I promise.
For instance, I don’t recall a moment when my mum baked Pa de Pessic at home. I would eat this at school, during an special event such Carnival, Fat Thursday or the lovely Castanyada. These days, lessons used to stop and teachers would serve hot chocolate and a portion of this plain cake to every pupil. Soaking it in the thick, steamy beverage was quite a funny moment as only a few lucky ones would avoid coming back home with stains in their tops. In Catalunya, this is called Xocolatada and is closely linked to this cake-and the famous melindro cake too.
Pa de pessic is a special cake because of its fluffy texture. People usually say it is like chewing a cloud because it’s so tender, so spongy and so light that you could eat a whole one your own and don’t feel it in your gut. It has almost no fat other than that of the eggs. Also, it can be used a base for other cakes and can be filled with whatever you like-jam, marmalade, chocolate spreadable, whipping cream… The choices are endless. I personally love it plain because it connects me with my younger me now that Carnival is round the corner.
The days are getting cooler in Oxford and nothing is more comforting than a warm cup of tea at home. As always, I invite you to try this combo and let me know your thoughts in the comments box.
INGREDIENTS (FOR A 23 cm CAKE TIN)
Caster sugar (100 g)
Corn starch (75 g)
Plain flour (25 g)
Baking powder (15 g)
Salt (a tiny pinch)
DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING
Separate the egg yolks and the whites in two different recipients. Mix the yolks with half of the sugar (50 g) using an electric whisker. Add then the lemon zest and integrate well.
2. Sift the corn starch, the plain flour and the baking powder upon the same recipient. Whisk again with the electric whisker until you achieve a dense batter. Set aside for later once you finish.
3. Now it’s time to beat the whites. Drop the pinch of salt (this will make the job easier) and start at medium speed. When they double the size and become whiter, add the remaining 50 g of sugar and whisk now at high speed. Keep the whisker running until they are stiff and form firm peaks (Note: I did the process in a blender beaker and it worked really well)
4. Using a spatula, integrate the egg whites within the previous mixture. Do it gently and one at a time in order to maintain the fluffiness. You will notice the mixture becomes lighter as you add more egg white.
5. Pour the batter into the cake tin. It must be covered with baking paper on the bottom and greased with flour on the sides beforehand. Make sure it is evenly spread.
6. Preheat the oven at 170 Celsius and bake for 30-35 minutes. You might need to cover the top with kitchen foil to avoid it burns. After that time, take it out of the oven and let it cool.
7. If you wish, sift some icing sugar over the cake once it’s completely cold.