Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Sponge Fingers


Sponge fingers were the main  treat for all ages. in my childhood. It accompanied coffee and tea for adults, milk and cocoa for children.
It is a flour-egg-water based baked goodie with the addition to the dough of vanilla extract, lemon juice (resembles the italian 'savoiardi' biscuits). The result - finger shaped cookies, spongy inside, crispy outside, coated with sugar.


sponge fingers (web picture)

We had a relative and neighbor (aunt Elki) that was famous in our little town for her 'swollen', delicious,  sponge fingers.  It was believed she used a certain ingredient which she refused to disclose. The sponge fingers were her 'specialty', her pride. She kept the secret to herself, probably took it with her to the grave, as her daughter and daughter- in- law who lived in other towns, were unaware  of her fame and didn't know what it was all about.

My mom  made some attempts to find out the secret by adding, and/ or eliminating ingredients. No many options in those days, but the 'usual  suspects' were there: soda water, baking powder, baking soda, yeast. Nothing conclusive, as far as I could remember). 

(Come to think of it, maybe it was potato starch. Perhaps, it wasn't an ingredient that did the job, but the method, the quantities). 

Anyway, I didn't mind the secret as long as I got my treat, and I got it often, There were times when her husband was mostly on the road (sales agent), and she wanted me to sleep at their house. Well, no child likes to leave his bed , but she was also a close relative and I didn't want to upset my mother.  So, the sponge fingers and sometimes little gifts, sweetened my bitterness.

Me - at the back, left side, with braids , boy with cap behind

My real prize was many years later in a conversation I had with her daughter in law (Aunt Elki lived her last decade with her son and his wife in a remote town). The conversation brought me to tears, as it appeared she had mentioned me often and thought well of me.  It made me feel guilty, as I always pictured  her as the wicked woman who wouldn't reveal the secret of the sponge fingers. May her soul rest in peace!




44 comments:

  1. Aw. Such are memories. I try not to look back. So many mistakes.

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    1. We can't actually help it. Whether we want it or not memories come to us either to please us or to haunt us or both.

      We tend to say: 'if only I knew then what I know now as an adult-elderly person! It would have made ne a better person, and the world a better place to live in'.

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  2. I love stories like this. We made sponge fingers too but they had the name lady fingers. I remember the stories of people baking one day each week all the breads and sweets that would be eaten the next week. They were fond of shortbreads that they would wrap in linen and put in the pie safe. Desserts were much simpler and frankly better than the ones people serve today.

    There is a pecan cookie that I make much better than anyone and the secret is simple. I don't overcook them.

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    1. I'm used to think about ladies' fingers as rather small and delicate; from my experience, these cookies the larger and more 'swollen' they are, the better they taste. So I prefer the name 'spongy fingers'.

      I'm sure your pecan cookies are highly delicious! Thanks for the secret:)

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  3. They sound delicious! Her claim to fame was those fingers. Sad she didn't pass on what made hers so special so her legacy with them could have lived on. Cute picture of you in your youth!

    Betty

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    1. They were totally delicious!
      There are times when I feel that in a way, I'm like her, and don't judge her.

      I've got some small 'inventions'of my own; after trying to pass the knowledge on without success, I stopped from doing that.

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  4. Hi Duta,
    That is such a sweet story.
    How good that you don`t need to feel guilty!!
    Her love for you shines through, and your love for her.
    Thankfully God is a God of forgiveness, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    I am so moved how you wrote this as I feel it speaks like the Madeline of Proust, the sponge fingers treat becomes like a door to seeing something human. Your Wanting to find out the secret ingredient to a delicious treat adds a certain intrigue, and at the same time gives a universal humanity to it as we in turn can examine our motives and heart desires towards those in our lives and see where we might need to be more pure, and receive the goodness from others wholeheartedly. Something like that!! . The photo is precious!!! A treat for us to see you as a child ! I love your braids! xoxo

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    1. Your comment, Shayndel, is a treat in itself.
      I tend to confess my sins to God, and I'm pleased that you too believe in His Forgiveness. It's soothing and comforting.

      Thanks for mentioning Madeleine of Proust. I've looked it up, as I don't recall having heard of that before. Interesting! It flatters me that you find some connection between Proust's madeleines (cookies) and the sponge cookies in my post.

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  5. This reminded me a similar story of my aunt who died a few years ago, when she invited us, she often prepared chicken in creamy sause with dried plums and leon soup - she however never revealed the recipe. I must try to recreate the recipe:)

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    1. Chicken and dried plums? sounds delicious! Good Luck with recreating the recipe!
      Well, almost any family has some similar story. Perhaps, it adds salt and pepper to inter-family relations, nd that's not a bad thing.

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  6. Thanks for telling us this wonderful story, Duta. It is very touching that Elki spoke so fondly of you. If ever you succeed in replicating her recipe we will all come to Israel to sample the results!

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    1. Yes, it is touching - the thought that she was not unaware of my 'sacrifice' as a child to come and keep her company.

      Strange as it may sound, I haven't really tried to replicate the recipe. Now and then, I used to buy the italian similar, savoiardi fingers.

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  7. Nice story.
    My late mother in law used to make those sponge fingers and they were ever so delicious.

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    1. I can imagine that.
      Mothers and mothers in law make things out of love, and the result is always delicious, and...well remembered.

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  8. "... it appeared she had mentioned me often and thought well of me. It made me feel guilty..."

    But she saw your heart. That's why she thought well of you.

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    1. Well, I suppose she saw in me a shy, obedient, polite child, and she liked that.
      She was not good at showing feelings, so that's why the things said to me by her daughter-in-law moved me, and even surprised me.

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  9. Those sponge fingers sound good, easy to make, and make me want to look on Pinterest, to see if I can find a good recipe. I loved the pic of you as a child, DUTA..very pretty girl. People look at that, and see a pic from long ago, sometimes not realizing that their class picture too, will someday look like it was from long ago. Also, very glad you heard that she mentioned you often and thought well of you...a nice thing for you to know, and maybe, look at her differently. Wishing you well, DUTA.

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    1. I'm pretty sure you'll find lots of good recipes, They're also named ladies' fingers. At the supermarkets, one can find the italian version of sponge fingers, 'savoiardi'.
      Since I 've mentioned myself in the post as a child, I felt I had to put some adequate picture to illustrate my point.

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  10. Sweet story and the sponge fingers sound good!

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    1. I know from your blog, that you like to bake, so give it a try! With the right recipe, you won't regret it.

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  11. It's nice that you learned that the neighbor thought well of you, Duta. Thanks for sharing the photo as well.

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    1. I was sure glad to learn about her opinion of me. As they say 'better late than never'.
      As for the photo, actually, I was looking for another one, me alone, but I couldn't find it.

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  12. algunos recuerdos son así, esas galletas creo que también las comemos aquí, me parece que son las mismas.

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    1. Good things become international in no time. Even in those days without tv,internet and smartphone.
      After all, these cookies are made of basic ingredients found in most kitchens.

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    2. cierto, yo nunca he probado a hacerlas yo misma, que interesante.

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    3. One never knows; the wish to bake sometimes comes to us on the spur of the moment, without planning.

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  13. Sponge fingers look so good, I think I have tried them before and I should definitely bake them☺ Have a lovely weekend ☺

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    1. The sponge fingers are an all-time, all-place, all-age treat. Their yumminess never fades; it goes from generation to generation, from one country to the next one.
      A lovely weekend to you too, Natalia!

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  14. A glorious piece of writing, Duta! Love the photo you included, too!

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    1. "glorious" - oh, my; you make me blush, Mary.
      Thanks for the visit and the kind comment.

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  15. I don't think I've ever had anything like that before.

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    1. Well, there's always a first time. I'm pretty sure you'll get to taste them somehow. Worth a try - bake them or buy them!

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  16. These Sponge fingers sound delicious, filled with yummy ingredients. They look even more
    "delicious-er". It's no wonder you loved getting this as a treat. LOLL

    Happy 4th of July, DUTA! Wishing you all the best, Stay Safe!

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    1. You would have loved them too. Delicious stuff, by all means. It's what we call a "classic" treat. And who doesn't love 'classic' - classic music, classic furniture, classic couture etc.. classic is the best of the best.

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  17. I have never had such a homemade treat....I thought sponge fingers were mass produced and came from off the supermarket shelf, and tasted of cardboard! Lovely blog.

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    1. Hi, Vera
      Most people prefer homemade to mass made for good reasons.
      However, the stuff found at the supermarkets nowadays has greatly improved; so those who lack the time for baking can get a decent bought treat.

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  18. Sponge Fingers here are called Twinkies and are filled with a variety of fillings. When my grandmother used to come for a visit she brought whipped cream puff eclairs, my favorite.

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    1. Eclairs?! Oh, I love them - those oblong shaped pastry filled with cream and topped with chocolate. Making eclairs is fine bakery.

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  19. A sweet story, Duta. You were a cute girl in this photo and the real life, that's way she mentioned you and thought well about you, also treated you with her special sponge fingers.

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    1. I'm glad, Evi dear, that you like the story, my photo as a girl, and the way my aunt has treated me.

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  20. I'd like a few of those right this minute!! :)

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    1. I'm sure you would, Lee!
      Coming from you, a first rate cook and baker - this sounds like a vote of confidence in these cookies.

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