Similar to angel food cake, sponge cake relies on beaten eggs to make it light as a feather. However, sponge cakes are richer than angel food cakes because they contain the egg yolks as well as the whites. Still they're lighter than chiffon or butter cakes because they contain little or no butter or oil. How do you make a sponge cake? Follow along, we'll show you!
Note: Recipes for sponge cake vary, so follow the directions given in the one you choose. These tips and tricks can help you master steps that appear in many different sponge cake recipes.
If your recipe calls for beating the egg yolks and whites separately, begin with separating the egg whites from the yolks. Eggs separate more easily when cold, so separate them immediately after taking them out of the refrigerator. Even the tiniest bit of yolk can inhibit the beating of the whites. To ensure that no yolk gets into the whites as you separate the eggs, separate each white into a small bowl (such as a custard cup), then transfer the white to the extra-large bowl in which you will eventually beat them. Place the yolks in a small mixing bowl. If any yolk does get into the white, do not use it; refrigerate that white for another use.
Allow the egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (For safety, do not let eggs stand longer than 30 minutes at room temperature.) The standing time ensures that the whites will reach their full volume when you beat them.
If your recipe calls for greasing the pan, use a paper towel or pastry brush to evenly spread shortening or butter on the bottom, corners, and 1 inch up the side of the pan.
If the recipe specifies flouring the pan, sprinkle a little flour into the pan; tap the pan so the flour covers all greased surfaces. Tap out any extra flour into the sink.
If a recipe calls for lining the pan with waxed or parchment paper, place the pan on the paper and trace around its base with a pencil. Cut just inside the traced line; place the paper in the bottom of the lightly greased pan, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles. Unless otherwise specified, grease and flour the lined pan as directed.
Before measuring flour for your favorite sponge cake recipe, stir the flour in the canister to aerate and loosen it. Spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup. Level it off with the flat side of a knife. (If you skip this aeration step or shake the cup to level it off, you risk adding too much flour.) Mix together other dry ingredients.
If your recipe calls for beating the yolks separately from the whites, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer on high speed for about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon-color. After beating for 2 to 3 minutes, the yolks will be the right color, but probably not thick enough. When they're ready, they will hold a ribbon when the beaters are lifted from the bowl (see photo).
Note: Some recipes call for beating the egg whites and yolks together, and adding sugar during the process. In this case, follow recipe instructions.
If your recipe calls for beating the egg whites separately from the yolks, thoroughly wash and dry the beaters. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. At this stage, the tips of the egg whites will curl when the beaters are lifted.
Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. At this stage, the tips of the whites will stand straight up when the beaters are lifted.
Some recipes call for folding the egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites, then folding in the flour mixture. Use a spatula to cut down vertically through the mixture. Move the spatula across the bottom of the bowl and bring it back up the other side, carrying some of the mixture from the bottom over the surface. Repeat, rotating the bowl, until ingredients are combined.
Tip: Do not overmix, which can decrease the volume of the batter and result in a tough cake. This is a key point in making sponge cake.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake as directed in the recipe, using the doneness test given in the recipe. For most sponge cakes, you can tell when the cake is done by touching the top lightly with your finger. If the top springs back, the cake is done.
If the recipe specifies a toothpick test, insert a wooden toothpick near the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
Cool cake as directed in the recipe. After cake is completely cooled (about 1 hour), frost if desired.
These favorites will help you find your next best sponge cake recipe. Choose from chocolate sponge cake, vanilla sponge cake, and more! Every one of these recipes is a winner, so choose the flavor you're craving and start mixing up the batter.
Don't stop at sponge cake—angel food cake, carrot cake, pound cake, and more are all just as worthy of your attention. Love chocolate cake? We've got you covered. Vanilla cake? It's here, too. Save these recipes for a special occasion, or make tonight's dessert a decadent affair with an easy cake recipe.