This wonderfully light and airy sponge cake is prepared the Panamanian way, drenched in a rum-and-sherry syrup.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in half
2 strips (2 inches long) lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup light or dark rum
1/3 cup dry or sweet sherry
1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch squaare baking pan.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until creamy. In a separate bowl, using a wire whisk or electric mixer, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture. Then fold the combined egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring only enough to wet the dry ingredients.
4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife tip inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Meanwhile, make the rum syrup: In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring briefly, until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low and cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the raisins and prunes during the final minute of cooking.
6. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the rum and sherry. Allow syrup to cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon zest before assembling serving portions.
7. To assemble: Cut the cake into 16 squares and arrange on a platter. Spoon syrup over each square until well saturated, topping each with some of the raisins and prunes.