Put 3 eggs and 4oz of caster sugar in a large bowl standing over a pan of hot water. Use an electric whisk to whip until stiff, light and creamy. In the kitchen, my Mum is an expert from experience. Her baking is never too fancy, nothing over-the-top; her meals are never pretentious. Rather, her values are for tried-and-tested recipes that have, and will, stand the test of time. Slowly sift 2oz flour over the mixture and fold in very lightly using a tablespoon. She still measures using ounces and I like it – I have become adept at measuring and converting imperial and metric units and love the feel of past generations in her time-honoured recipe of '2 eggs and 2oz each of sugar, butter and flour.' Add the remaining 2oz flour or cocoa powder in the same way and lightly stir in the hot water. Line a swiss roll tin, 9x12 inches with non-stick baking paper and pour in the mixture, making sure it covers the whole surface evenly. Even hundreds of miles from home I can imagine, clear as day, the sound of the oven being opened and a steaming cottage pie brought out, lovingly embraced in my Mum's favourite striped oven gloves, a smile breaking on her face as she sees my own full of awe and anticipation. Bake near the top of the oven for 7 – 9 minutes at 200 degrees until golden-brown, firm and well-risen. Her hot apple pie with a shiny ceramic pie bird nestled in the top was another favourite of mine; golden, home-made pastry laid lovingly over fresh slices of sweet cooking apples fallen from the big tree at the end of the garden, where my yellow swing swayed in a gentle summer breeze. Equally I used to long for the wafting smell of jam tarts from the kitchen and then the taste of the warm, crumbling pastry and the home-made strawberry conserve, as sweet in my mouth as when I first tasted it late on a summers evening a few weeks before, fresh from the huge pot simmering in the kitchen. Caster sugar should be liberally sprinkled onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and laid ready on top of a damp teal towel. My fondest memory? Without a doubt: cake. In particular, warm custard being drizzled over Mum's famous quick-cook choc sponge, made easily with fewer eggs and a less than three minutes in the microwave after a long day. And scraping the glass bowl free of crumbs afterwards was the best way to end a perfect meal. Finally, turn the cake quickly out onto the paper, trim off crusty edges (save to nibble on!) and spread home-made strawberry jam all over. Now, years after moving away from home, I still desperately look forward to visiting for a day, a week, hopefully more, and being in that kitchen with the familiar smells, the same old, worn recipe books on the shelf and maybe… maybe something new to learn. A new twist on an old chocolate cake favourite, perhaps.
Roll up the sponge and sprinkle with icing sugar for a perfect Chocolate Swiss Roll.