A sponge cake is a lighter version of a traditional cake and doesn't include any type of shortening or fat in its recipe. However, sponge cake recipes typically call for more eggs than traditional cake recipes. These two differences produce a light, frothy batter called a "sponge," which is how the dessert got its name.
Basic Sponge Cake
- 1 cup flour
- 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- Prepare a sponge cake pan or 8" round cake pan by buttering it and coating it with flour or coating it with cooking spray.
- Sift the flour into a small bowl and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, whisk the granulated sugar with the eggs. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until they become light and creamy, about 12 to 15 minutes. If a ribbon forms on the surface of the egg mixture and stays for several seconds when you lift up a beater, you've mixed for long enough. Otherwise, keep mixing.
- Beat in the vanilla extract, mixing until fully incorporated.
- Fold half the flour into the batter, lightly and quickly. Your object when folding is to retain as many air bubbles as possible.
- Fold in the remaining flour and the oil. When fully mixed, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan once onto a counter or table to pop air bubbles on top of the batter.
- Bake the can for 20 to 25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Let the cake sit for five minutes in the pan, then invert the pan onto a wire rack (leave the cake in the pan) and let the cake cool completely before unmolding.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter (optional)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare a sponge cake pan or 9" round cake pan by coating with cooking spray or rubbing with butter and dusting with cocoa powder.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer or stand mixer to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar (if using) until the mixture is foamy. Gradually pour in half of the sugar until the egg mixture becomes very stiff.
- In a third bowl, beat the egg yolks and the remaining half of the sugar with an electric mixer or stand mixer until pale and thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture and the vanilla into the beaten egg whites. Fold until partially incorporated. Add the flour mixture in two or three additions and fold in gently with a rubber spatula until just incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan once on the counter to break any big air bubbles.
- Bake the cake for about 25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Let the cake sit for five minutes in the pan, then invert the pan onto a wire rack (leave the cake in the pan) and let the cake cool completely before unmolding.
Sponge Cake with Cream Filling
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Filling Ingredients
- 1 pint sweet milk, put on to boil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 heaping tablespoon flour
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two 9" round baking pans by greasing and flouring.
- Sift together flour and baking soda.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until the mixture is foamy. Continue beating, adding half of the sugar gradually until stiff peaks form.
- In another bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar until the mixture is thick and pale, about five minutes.
- Fold the egg yolks into the egg whites until just incorporated.
- Fold in flour and baking soda in two or three additions until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for five minutes before unmolding.
- Allow cake to cool completely before filling with cream.
- To make the cream, beat eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined.
- When milk comes to a boil, add butter and egg mixture.
- Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding.
- Spread between layers of sponge cake.
Orange Sponge Cake
- 6 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- Dash salt
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- Zest of one orange
- 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bring egg whites to room temperature and refrigerate yolks until you use them.
- Sift flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt, and set aside.
- Add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Beat egg yolks until thick, about five minutes. Add 2/3 cup sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. Continue beating until well combined.
- Add flour to egg yolk mixture and beat to combine.
- Fold egg whites into yolk batter until just combined.
- Spoon batter into an ungreased 9" tube pan. Tap a few times on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until surface of cake springs back when gently touched.
- Invert pan to cool for about an hour before unmolding.
- Slice and fill as desired.
For a time, cakes were made in molds, somewhat like today's modern Bundt cakes. Angel food cakes are a specific type of sponge cake and are nearly fat-free, because they contain egg whites rather than yolks. Most sponges aren't frosted and are instead filled with jam, as the Victoria sponge cake, or cream. Historians believe sponge cakes originated in Europe during the 19th century. Today, sponge cakes are still light, airy concoctions popular at parties.
Tips for Flawless Sponge Cake
Sponge cakes require special techniques to ensure they are light and airy.
- Beating the eggs correctly is the real key to making successful sponge cakes. Always make sure to follow a recipe to the letter when you beat the eggs for your cake, and fold them in slowly and carefully. If you don't, your sponge cake will lose volume and could end up more like a bath sponge than a cake.
- Sponge cakes are almost always baked in a circular pan with a tube, like an angel food cake pan. The hole in the center helps keep the cake fluffy and allows heat to circulate evenly throughout the cake while it bakes.
- Turn the cake pan over and support it on a bottle or funnel after it has been baked. If you cool it with the top up, the cake will fall.
Light and Airy Sponge Cakes
Although sponges take time and effort to make, they're a great alternative to butter cakes because of their lighter texture. To serve, garnish each piece of cake with fresh whipped cream, fresh berries, or jam.