Everyone needs a trusted sponge cake recipe, and with the help of one – typically vanilla – base recipe it is easy to make plenty of other versions such as chocolate cake, walnut cake, coconut cake, etc. This tall sponge cake recipe is somewhere in between traditional sponge and chiffon, yet has the benefit of both and can be the perfect base for your favorite layered cakes. If you want an airy, tall, delicious, fluffy, tender yet stable sponge cake recipe that is easy to frost for your layered cakes, you found it, look no further! This is hands down the best sponge cake recipe that you will ever make!
Why this is the best recipe
This is a professional sponge cake recipe that is explained step-by-step and adopted in a home kitchen environment. It is in fact a rather simple sponge cake, however, it is worth reading the entire recipe and follow the technique.
The most important factors to bake a neat super moist sponge cake
- Using the right ingredients at the right temperature eg. low protein content flour, room temperature egg, milk, etc.
- Using the right equipment, eg. a cake pan with a straight side and cake pan strip
- Learning the right technique, eg. how to whip egg white into meringue without overwhipping
In this recipe I cover all the necessary information about the ingredients and techniques you probably haven´t read anywhere else, so your sponge cake will turn out exactly like mine!
- Oil: No butter, but oil! The biggest disappointment I often have with traditional butter-based sponge cakes is that they tend to firm up in the fridge and I like my cake soft and tender. The oil not only adds moisture to the cake, but it coats the flour which prevents gluten formation therefore the cake will get super tender even straight out of the fridge. Having said that, where the structure is the priority, like in the case of a huge wedding cake, perhaps butter is a better option. Other than that, I tend to choose an oil-based sponge whenever the cake needs to be refrigerated. Use good quality vegetable oil that has no or just very mild taste
- Sugar: Superfine sugar is the most appropriate choice especially at the stage when beating egg white into the meringue, however, granulated white sugar can work fine too. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here.
- Egg: The majority of the sponge cake recipes call for beating whole eggs with sugar, however for the fluffiest sponge-like result I do recommend beating the egg white separately into a meringue-like texture then gently folding it into the mixture. Eggs must be at room temperature
- Flour: All-purpose flour or cake flour makes the best cakes. They are so-called “soft flour” which is low on protein resulting in a delicate, tender texture. If you want to be a pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article here.
- Baking powder/soda: Actually none of these! Believe me, if you beat your egg yolk for min. 8-10 minutes until very pale and fluffy, in the meantime beat your egg white separately until shiny, easily stiff peaks, there is no need for an extra raising agent in the recipe. It won’t get grainy, it won’t get heavy, in fact, it will rise more evenly and definitely won’t crack on the top. The air that you beat into the egg is the actual rising agent
- Milk: Use milk at room temp, I prefer whole milk
1. Cake pan
There are 3 key considerations when choosing the right cake pan: size, side, material.
Regarding the size, I am using a rather small (15 cm=6 inch) diameter but tall (7 cm=3 inch) cake pan which is enough to make a tall sponge cake for a 2 or 3 layered cake and size-wise more than enough for a family. The side of the cake pan must be absolutely straight in order to bake a neat, straight sponge. In regards to the material, I recommend stainless steel or aluminum, however, the cake pan preparation is very important in case of both, see my tips further down.
Can I make this sponge cake in a smaller pan? Yes, you can but you will need to adjust the quantity as well as baking time (decrease)
Can I make this sponge cake in a bigger pan? Theoretically yes you can, but since it is a very tall sponge cake, the larger the pan the bigger the risk that it won´t bake properly plus you will need to increase the quantity of the ingredients as well as the baking time. If want to make a larger size sponge cake eg. 8 inch + 20cm I suggest you bake 2 cakes instead
2. Cake pan strip
How to bake Sponge cake that does not dome: Use a cake pan strip!
Cake pan strip is one of the biggest hacks in baking, I came across them a few years ago and it works like charm. Why use it? Read what Wilton has to say about their cake strips, could not agree more!
“Say goodbye to high-rise centers, cracked tops, and over-cooked cake edges. Just dampen Bake Even strips and wrap around the pan before baking. The moisture in the strips keeps the edges of the pan cooler for perfectly level and deliciously moist cakes—every time!”
I recommend either purchasing the Wilton cake strips or making your own using a paper towel packed into kitchen foil. I dump the homemade strip into the water the same way as Wilton explains and it works just fine. The key thing is to use some sort of cooling the edge method in order to avoid high-rise centers.
On a side note, I actually like it if the sponge cake edge caramelizes a tiny bit, so I usually remove the strip ¾ of the baking time, but you really don’t have to and strictly do not open the oven door before ¾ of the baking time.
5 Expert tips
1. Step-by-step process
First and foremost make sure you prepare all the ingredients and bring them to room temperature, also prepare the tools such as 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan, Rubber spatula, Wilton cake strip (if using). You will also have to preheat your oven at least 15-20 minutes ahead.
You will manage to bake a 15 cm (6 inch) wide, 7 cm (3 inch) tall sponge cake with the help of 3 eggs and using the right technique:
- Beat together egg yolk, vanilla extract, and half of the sugar (75 g) for at least 8 minutes until very pale, creamy, and fluffy
- Beat in the rest of the wet ingredients; oil and milk (room temperature) just until combined
- Whip egg whites starting on low speed on your Stand mixer while adding the rest of the sugar (75 g), one tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed and whip for about 5-8 minutes until stiff and glossy and the sugar completely dissolves. The meringue texture should be sort of early stiff peaks but do not overbeat into super hard meringue as that is a difficult texture to fold with the rest of the ingredients
- While the mixer is on preparing the meringue, sift the cake flour into the egg yolk mixture, then gently fold it in with a Rubber spatula just until combined, do not overmix. This mixture can get somewhat thick and can easily dry out, so do not make it ahead
- With the help of a Rubber spatula gently fold the egg whites into the flour egg yolk sugar mixture. Since the flour mixture is quite thick it's worth first to loosen it up by ¼ of the whipped egg white mixture, then very gently fold the rest of the egg white in
- Pour the batter into the prepared 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan
- Bake for approx. 60 minutes at 170C / 338F (no fan). Do not open the oven door in the first 45 minutes
- Flip the sponge cake upside down and let it completely cool on a Cooling rack
This sponge will be rather tall so can be used either as a 2 tier or 3 tier cake.
2. How to easily release sponge cake from cake pan
The right cake pan preparation depends on the type of cake and/or pan and with this type of sponge cake and cake pan, I use the following: with the help of a pastry brush, brush the inside of the cake pan with a tiny bit of oil then use parchment paper on the bottom and side as well.
The oil is only needed for the parchment to stick to the pan. What I love about this pan preparation is that even though it is a rather tall sponge cake, with the help of parchment paper it is always incredibly easy to release the cake from the pan. Make sure you do the cake pan preparation before starting to mix the ingredients!
3. How to bake
Two considerations regarding oven temperature:
The first one is the temperature on paper, if it’s too low, it won't bake especially this rather tall type sponge however if the oven temperature is too high, the sponge will rise too fast resulting in cracks on the top. I find the ideal oven temperature is 170C / 338F (no fan!) for this recipe in my oven, but you will have to test it in your own oven. Nevertheless, for tall cakes, it is usually recommended to bake it at a lower temperature for longer so it bakes throughout.
The second consideration is your REAL oven temperature, what do I mean by that? Check my oven for example:
16C / 60F difference is huge (and not unusual for non-professional ovens), it results in an increasing baking time of an extra 10-15 minutes. I can not highlight enough how important to get to know your own oven and purchase an inexpensive digital oven thermometer that certainly will increase the chances to become a more successful home baker.
4. How to further prevent Sponge cake from doming and cracking on top
Sponge cake doming and cracking is mainly the consequence of 1. too high baking temp, 2. the side of the cake heating up too quickly, 3. too small baking pan, 4. inappropriate ingredient quantities and rations in the recipe
Some tips to avoid sponge cake doming and cracking:
- Make sure you get to know your oven and are fully aware of its temperature, purchase an inexpensive digital oven thermometer
- Always use the right size baking tin (for this recipe a 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan) Having too much cake butter in a too-small baking means your cake "does not fit" into the tin and can cause doming and cracking
- Consider using the Wilton cake strips or making your own using a paper towel packed into kitchen foil, this will ensure that the side of the cake won´t heat up too quickly
- Baking is science and the ingredients must be measured properly with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is greatly inaccurate and a little bit too much of this, not enough of that can cause inbalance in the ingredient ratios to result in all sorts of baking issues
- My recipe does not state rising agent like baking powder because the eggs will be supporting the rise of the sponge however too much rising agent eg. baking powder can also cause the cake too quickly to rising and crack
- Last but not least, sponge cake is very sensitive to temperature change, please make sure you do not open the oven door during baking as oven temperature fluctuation can also cause issues on the cake
5. How to prevent Sponge cake from collapsing after baked
You have to make sure that the Sponge cake is well baked before taking it out of the oven as the under-baked sponge will collapse at room temperature.
How to check whether the sponge is ready-baked?
1. Check whether the toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean
2. Check whether the sides of the cake starting to pull away from the pan
3. Gently press the top of the cake, if the sponge springs back, it's done
Pro Tip: You should cool this sponge cake upside down just like an Angel Food cake (my recipe is here)! Until the cake is completely cooled, its structure hasn’t been set fully. Flipping it upside down ensures that it doesn’t collapse during the cooling process. Once completely cooled, it should easily pop out of the cake tin if you have done the cake pan preparation correctly.
How to use
This sponge cake is moist, fluffy, very spongy, and can be the perfect base for your layered cakes! Use it either fresh the same day or cover in plastic foil and use it within a few days. This sponge cake can be also frozen and used after being defrosted as you would normally do.
The sponge can be cut horizontally into 2 or 3 depending on the cake you wish to make. I suggest you use a measuring tape and mark the side of the sponge with the help of the knife in order to cut it evenly.:
Check out my Victoria sponge cake recipe, a stunning yet easy strawberry cake that is made using this sponge cake, or use it for your favorite layered cakes!
Yes, you can, however, you will need to adjust the ingredient quantities and baking time accordingly. Having said that, the larger the cake the riskier that it won´t bake throughout, so you have to pay extra attention to the correct oven temperature and apply the toothpick check
The side of the cake pan must be absolutely straight in order to bake a neat, straight sponge and I suggest applying the parchment paper preparation technique. Since this is a rather runny cake batter springform pan might not be the most appropriate one to use
Most probably yes, you can, however, you can´t just leave out / change an ingredient without reformulating the entire recipe. When one ingredient changes, some other ingredients need to be changed too in order to keep the balance in the texture and flavor. Sadly, I am not able to provide substitutes for all sorts of allergies and diets.
Cake flour due to its lower protein content makes the best cakes. Alternatively, use low protein content all-purpose flour
Not very likely since the rise of the cake is only supported by the eggs. Having said that, you might be able to bake some sort of sponge-like cake without egg, but not this one and I am not able to help with that
This is a super moist cake due to the oil and high ratio of wet ingredients, and very difficult to mess it up.
A few reasons can cause dry, crumbly texture on your cake 1. ingredients not measured correctly eg. too much flour added to the mixture 2. inappropriate mixing technique eg. over mixed cake batter 3. over baked, meaning it dried out too much. Consider investing in an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to be able to measure the correct oven temperature and please make sure to use a Digital scale during baking, cups are not an accurate way of measuring for consistent results.
Probably the cake would have needed more baking time. Either, it was taken out of the oven too soon, or perhaps your oven is under heat. Consider investing in an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer if you tend to struggle with the baking part of your desserts.
Another issue that can cause raw texture is measuring the ingredients inappropriately eg. adding less flour to the recipe. Consider using a Digital scale
Once the sponge cake is baked, let it completely cool before using it to make any layered cake. If you do not need it immediately, cover it with foil and store it for 2-3 days in the fridge
You can easily freeze the sponges after baking, cover it in foil and bring it to room temperature when you need it
Tall & Moist Sponge cake
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Pre-heat oven to 170 C / 338 F and bring all ingredients to room temp
- Prepare a 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan with parchment paper inside and cake strip around
- Beat together egg yolk, vanilla extract and half of the sugar (75 g) for at least 5 minutes until very pale, creamy and fluffy
- Beat in the rest of the wet ingredients; oil and milk
- Sift in flour then gently fold it in with a Rubber spatula just until combined, do not overmix
- Whip egg whites starting on low speed on your Stand mixer while adding the rest of the sugar (75 g), one tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed and whip for about 5-8 minutes until stiff and glossy and the sugar completely dissolves
- With the help of a Rubber spatula gently fold egg whites into the flour egg yolk mixture. Since the flour mixture is quite thick it's worth first to loosen it up by ¼ of the whipped egg white mixture then very gently fold the rest of the egg white in
- Pour the batter into the prepared 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan
- Bake for approx. 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Do not open the oven door in the first 45 minutes
- Flip the sponge cake upside down and let it completely cool on a Cooling rack
- Use according to cake recipe. This sponge will be rather tall so can be used either as a 2 tier or 3 tier cake