In the Philippines, August 23 is Ninoy Aquino Day, a day to commemorate the 1983 assassination of former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. Aquino and his wife, Corazon Aquino, are considered heroes of democracy in the Philippines. Both were leaders in the opposition against the corrupt President Ferdinand Marcos, and, with Benigno’s assassination as a rallying point, the “People Power movement” forced Marcos into exile and established Corazon as president of a democratic Philippines.
In the United States, something sweeter, yet less monumental, is celebrated on August 23: sponge cake. This after-dinner delicacy is characterized by its light, airy texture, made possible by the egg foam it contains. The earliest recorded sponge cake recipe is from 1615, and was found in The English Housewife: Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman by English poet and writer Gervase Markham, from the Libraries' Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Library collection.
It would appear that the martyrdom of a Filipino senator and a sweet English dessert have nothing in common and, technically, this is entirely true. However, there is something we can do to combine these two seemingly disparate holidays, to laud the triumph of democracy over tyranny, to have our sponge cake and eat it, too.
The Philippines has its own version of sponge cake, a delicious treat called Mamon. By following this easy recipe from pinoyfoodblog.com, Americans can commemorate a fateful day in Filipino history (by literally getting a taste of Filipino culture) and celebrate National Sponge Cake Day at the same time.
Mamon (Filipino Yellow Sponge Cake)
8 egg yolks
8 egg whites (separate the whites from the yolk in different bowls)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 3/4 cups sifted Cake Flour
1/3 cup melted Butter
1/3 teaspoon Orange Extract
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Extract
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1. Beat in a mixer at high speed until thick: 8 egg yolks (at room temperature), 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/3 cup water.
2. When you cannot feel the sugar granules from the mixture anymore, at low speed — add 1 tbsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1-3/4 cup sifted cake flour, 1/3 cup melted butter (cooled down), 1/4 tsp. orange extract, and 1/4 tsp. lemon extract.
3. In a separate bowl, beat 8 eggwhites with 1 tsp. of cream of tartar at high speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff (about 4 minutes).
4. Fold in the yolk mixture into the whites.
5. Grease 14 big mamon molds or 20 small molds with softened or melted butter on all sides.
Note: I prefer softened butter. This way, I can control how much butter I want to grease the pans with.
6. Pour the mamon mixture into the greased molds, 3/4’s full. Thus, the resulting mamon will be high and soft.
7. Bake mamon at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes.
8. When done, brush the mamon with softened butter and roll in a plate of sugar. You can also add grated cheese.
1. Put extra butter, melted, at the bottom of the molds.
2. When you beat the eggwhites, you can change the direction of your beating BUT let 1 minute elapse before changing the direction of the beating.
3. Do procedure no. 3 first (the egg whites).
—Risa Seidman, Libraries Intern