Having a trusted sponge cake recipe is absolutely essential for a home baker 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.There are countless types of sponge cake recipes that exist, each has its own characteristics. It took me quite a while to test and try different ingredients, techniques, baking temperatures, baking pans and figure out the sponge cake I prefer. To get this straight upfront, I ended up somewhere in between traditional butter cake and chiffon, that has the benefit of both.
If you want an airy, tall, delicious, fluffy, tender, rich, moist yet strong which able to hold its shape and easy frost type of sponge cake recipe, then you found THE one!
First let’s start with some important notes regarding the ingredients of this sponge cake recipe
- read the recipe carefully
- avoid using substitutes unless aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavours
- measure your ingredients with the help of a digital kitchen scale
1. EggsMajority of the recipes call for beating whole eggs with sugar, however for the fluffiest really sponge like result I do recommend to beat the egg white separately into a meringue like texture then gently fold it into the mixture. Eggs must be room temperature as always.
2. SugarIf you haven’t read my Guide about the different types of sugar and their function in baking, head over here. In this recipe I use superfine sugar, granulated works well too.
3. FlourI use pastry flour and if you are wondering about the different types of flour and want to learn how and when to use them, check my flour Guide out in here. There is no need to use self-raising flour in this recipe, in fact I would avoid using it, please see reasons below.
4. Baking powder or baking sodaActually 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, stiff peaks, there is no need for extra rising 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. You will manage to bake a 15 cm (6 inch) wide, 7 cm (3 inch) tall sponge cake with my recipe.
5. MilkI use whole milk, room temperature as always. Some recipes use sour cream which I also really like in certain circumstances but not in this recipe.
6. ButterNo butter, but oil! The biggest issue I’ve had with traditional butter based 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, how cool is that? Having said that, where structural integrity is the priority, like in case of a huge wedding cake, perhaps butter is a better option. Other than that I always use oil based sponge whenever the cake needs to be refrigerated but not for loaf cake e.g. lemon drizzle which is stored on room temperature.
Now let’s continue with some further important notes regarding the equipment of making this sponge cake recipe
1. Cake panI already mentioned a couple of recommendations in my 7 baking pans every baker needs article, please head over there if you haven’t read it so far. To recap, 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 layered cake and size wise more than enough for a small family. The side of the cake pan must be absolutely straight in order to bake a straight sponge. In regards to the material, I recommend stainless steel or aluminium, however the cake pan preparation is very important in case of both.
2. Cake pan preparationThat is a whole topic on its own and the right preparation depends on the type of cake and/or pan however with this type of 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 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 the parchment paper it is incredible easy to release the cake from the pan.
3. Cake pan stripsCake pan strips is one of the biggest hack 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 to ideally purchase the Wilton cake strips or make your own using paper towel and kitchen foil. I dump the home made strip into water the same way as Wilton explains and it works just just fine. One side note is that I actually like if the sponge cake edge caramelises a tiny bit so I usually remove the strip 3/4 of the baking time, but you really don’t have to and strictly do not open the oven door before 3/4 of the baking time. The key is to use some sort of cooling the edge method in order to avoid high rise centers.
4. Rubber spatulaRubber spatula is really a must I think for a Baker at any level. Whenever a recipe states “folding” we mean “with a rubber spatula” to avoid breaking the batter. This method is extremely important while handling sponge cake or meringue and really the one and only technique you should practise and learn which will make or break the success of your sponge.
5. Oven temperatureTwo consideration, regarding oven temperature; First one is the temperature on paper, if it’s too low, it wont’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 for this recipe. Second consideration is your REAL oven temperature, what do I mean on that? Check my oven for example: 16C / 60F difference is huge (and not unusual), 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. It might not solve all the problem in the world but certainly will increase the chances to become a more successful home baker.
How to use this sponge cake recipe?
Check out my strawberry cake recipe
Now that we went through on the key success factors, let’s see the recipe of this 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
- Prepare Rubber spatula as per point 2 above
- Prepare Wilton cake strip as per point 3 above
- Beat together egg yolk, vanilla extract and half of the sugar (75 g) for at least 8-10 minutes until very pale, creamy and fluffy
- Beat in the rest of the wet ingredients; oil and milk (room temperature)
- 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 10 minutes until stiff and glossy and the sugar completely dissolves
- 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 1/4 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. 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