You’ve probably heard it before. Maybe you’ve said it to yourself about sponge cakes: “My cake didn’t rise a bit. It was one big gooey mess. Dense and tasteless. It rose in the oven only to fall flat as soon as I took it out. I’ll never bake another sponge cake again, never ever!”
Sounds familiar? It definitely does to me. These were the cries of my heart at one point in my life. You see, for a very long time, I failed at making sponge cakes. They just weren’t right. Not like the sponge cake of my childhood favorite, Naghil Tortu (Cake “Fairy Tale”) that sold in Baku in Soviet times – soft and fluffy, perfectly and equally tall on all sides. My recipes didn’t give me that.
So, I a few years ago I turned to my baking bible, William-Sonoma baking book, for advice. The advice the book gave me was a great one – stop wasting your time on your poorly and unprofessionally written recipes from your ancient notebook and follow the recipe for a perfect class sponge cake written by professionals. Brilliant advice. How did I not think of that before? So I did follow the advice. My sponge cakes have been great ever since. I now can make my own naghil.
Classic Sponge Cake
Adapted from Essentials of Baking, Williams-Sonoma
The original recipe calls for 4 eggs and 3/4 cup each cake flour and sugar. I have increased the amounts of eggs to 5 and of flour and sugar to 1 cup. It yielded a higher cake. Plus, in this way, the recipe is easier to remember. My new sponge cake baking rule: 5-1-1 and the cake is done:) Easy to remember, no?
1 cup cake flour*
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment (baking) paper cut to fit. Butter the paper and dust the bottom and sides of the pan with flour. Shake and tilt to remove the excess flour.
Sift the flour onto a sheet of parchment paper or onto a plate. Set aside.
In a large, deep bowl, combine the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Using a sturdy wire whisk or a hand mixer, beat vigorously until the mixture is light in color and thick, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they form soft peaks and have tripled in volume. Slowly pour in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the whites falling out (Farida: This is a great tip – make sure you try it!). Be careful not to overwhip the whites, or they will be dry.
Using a rubber spatula, gently but quickly fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the yolk-sugar mixture. Fold in one-half of the flour. Fold in the another third of the whites, followed by the remaining flour. Finally, fold in the remaining whites until the batter is smooth. Be careful not to overfold, or the eggs will deflate and the batter will lose its volume.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and smoothen the top. Bake until it springs back when lightly touched with a fingertip or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven.
Immediately run a small, think knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, pressing the knife against the pan to avoid gouging the cake. Place a wire rack on top of the cake and invert them together. Carefully lift off the parchment paper. Turn the cake back over onto the rack and let cool completely.
Use the cake immediately, or wrap well and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
* You can make your own cake flour with only 2 ingredients: all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure how much flour you’ll need. In this recipe, it is 1 cup. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour and put back in your flour bag. Replace the 2 tablespoons of flour that you took out with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Now, stir the flour and the cornstarch together and sift at least 5 times. This will allow for the cornstarch to mix well with the flour. The more you sift the lighter and fluffier your cake flour and therefore, your cake will be. Your 1 cup cake flour is now ready.
Lovely! That is so delicious with whipped cream and strawberries!
Farida!!! We make this all the time… in Russian it is called “Biskvit” and it is way too overused,,, I mean since it so easy to make, and requires minimal ingredients people make anywhere from 2 to 5 layers and fill it with dulche le leche and butter cream, or add preserves between layers and ice it….. you could also make jello with berries and crush it up (with a potato masher) and then put that in the middle of two layers and on top and then put whipped cream all over it…. oh the possibilities are endless. I also use this recipe to make jelly roles….I am glad yours came out. Sometimes when I am lazy I just throw in the eggs with the sugar and beat for 25 minutes (this is easy when you have an electric stand mixer),… and then I fold in the flour and it also rises….. 🙂 I love reading your blog!!!
Sounds easy and delicious! Thank you for sharing! I’ll give it a try one of these days =)
Thanks for the recipe… And thanks alla for the additional information on how to spice the sponge cake up. I love dulce de leche and I would absolutely try this at home.
Que bolo lindo e apetitoso!! Adoraria provar.
Beijos para você Farida.
Spong cake is such an essential tool in the kitchen! Yours looks pro!
I am laughing so hard because my column this week is about Sponge Cakes and I made one today for the column and blog which I will post about this weekend. This is so funny 🙂
I’ll definitely link to your post on Saturday.
mmm yuummy cake..very perfect and moist..
Perfect cake! My favorite!
Thank you for the recepie. I’ll try it today!!!
I like cakes!! They are easy to bake and are nor creamy 🙂
That does look like the perfect sponge cake!
It looks gorgeous Farida! I love sponge cake. I will have to try this one!
Beautiful! Nothing beats the classics. And sponge cake is the reigning queen of cakes!
Fari, I haven’t made a sponge cake in years, I think it’s because I have the tendency of corrupting a light dessert with syrups, whipped cream and berries. The latter keeps the light and dark angels on my shoulders busy while I indulge without guilt.
All that to say, I want to try your simple recipe with the 5-1-1 rule.
Simply delicious! Will love it with berries and whipped cream!
Delicious is all I want to say!!!
Love the 5-1-1 rule… so easy to remember and you don’t even use cream of tartar for the egg whites. Kudos
4 cups eggs ? 🙂
Nice cake…do we not need baking powder or soda ?
Thank you for all your comments!
Cooker: Thanks for catching the 4 cups eggs:) Just corrected it.
what a gorgeous cake! i haven’t made a sponge cake yet but need to try my hand at it. i will use your recipe wish me luck 🙂
Farida, no baking powder or soda ?
COOKER: None:) The cake will rise perfectly well without those.
please check my version of sponge cake here..
I’m sure gonna steal some recipes from your blog 😉 brillinat stuff. I’m just happy that i found your blog 🙂
Farida, it is funny that you finally “found” the right recipe for sponge cake bc you make apple sharlotka which is the same cake (except that we add apples)… and it rises fine. If you omit the apples from charlotte then you get the 5-1-1 sponge cake which u have already been doing 🙂
ALLA: The technique for making the two cakes is a little different. In sharlotka the eggs and sugar are beaten together, yolk and egg. But in sponge cake, they are first beaten separately, then combined. I find the textures of the baked cakes slightly different too.
Hi Farida!Came across ur blog liked tis recipe am planning to try d cake tis weekend …can u give me recipe for chocolate sponge cake….my little daughter wud like it with a chocolatey taste……
SABINA: You can make this cake chocolaty too:) Reduce the cake flour to 3/4 cup, and add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to it. Sift together a few times.
Thanku so much just wanted to try tis cake plain first as per ur recipe and the cake is in the oven getting baked….so will let u know the results…can u suggest some buttercream icing recipe with cocoa powder…for the cake…shud i use a syrup between the layers…I haven’t tried any frosting/icing….but wud be eager to try the simplest recipe…Thanku in advance…Keep up the good work….
SABINA: I have once made this icing and it turned out good:
http://southernfood.about.com/od/icingrecipes/r/bl30527c.htm. You can also make the cream from here: https://azcookbook.com/2010/02/19/honey-cake-medovik/. Moistening the layers is optional. If you want a moister cake, do so, if not, leave as is.
This is the first sponge cake that turned out for me.
Thank you very much!
in this cake is the amount of sugar double of the flour.i am new to baking pls help.
TAJH. I am not sure where you read the double amount sentence. The recipe says 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour. No double amounts Good luck!
Thanks for your patience to answer all questione! 🙂
Tell me Fardia, how can i convert this sponge cake into “Chocolate Sponge Cake”? i mean by adding cocoa powder, how much flour should be reduced?! thanks again
TARLAN: Reduce the flour to 2/3 cup and add 2 + 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder. Sift together.
Can I use potato starch instead of cornstarch for the cake flour or are they completely different things?
ELLA: You can use potato starch, but the cake will be moister and not very spongy.
Just wanted to let you know that I tried this cake last week and it was a huge hit with the family! Thank you so much for this recipe! I have one question though…do you know how I could make this into a chocolate sponge cake? I know I have to put in cocoa..but do you know how much though?
TRIISH: So glad it turned out great! Thanks for trying. Read comment # 36 for your question:)
For a very long time im searching the recipe for a perfect sponge cake. When ever i find a recipe i will try it. But i was not satisfied by any of that. After seeing ur post i tried immediately and vola i got a perfect sponge cake. Thank you for ending my search for a perfect sponge cake recipe. Tomorrow im going to try ur easy baklava. let u know how that turns soon
very very nice
Is this sponge cake easy to carve into certain shapes?
BRITTANY: Yes, you should be fine carving it.
I was wondering if this cake would hold up under fondant. I don’t like using pound cakes because of the butter. Thank you!
TOM: Yes, it should work. Good luck!
oh my my!!!! 🙂 All i wanna say is delicious , mouth watering, yummy cake, I wanna have it in my mouth right now !! 🙂 😀 lol……..hehehehehehe……:)
Hi! My grandma used to make one similar to this…I wanted to know if Corn flour is the same as corn starch, or is corn starch like custard powder?? Sorry for the confusion…am new to being in the kitchen solo. Thanks Farida for the great step by step instructions. Be blessed!!!
FSK. NEWCOOK – Thank you for your nice words. Corn flour and corn starch are two different things. Cornstarch looks like airy light powder, like powdered sugar.
I just tried your cake and its come out perfect like never before. I finally found a nice recipe for sponge cake.
But its become very soft and isnt getting (cut) layered neatly.
Can you tell me why that is happening?
ADIBIA – The cake should be soft but as soft that you can’t cut it. Not sure what happened. Use a serrated knife for best results.
can i know what is ur measurement of 1 cup? 250g?
btw can i use self raise flour instead of all purpose flour? are they e same?
GEK FONG – 150 g. Use all-purpose. Self rising flour is all-purpose flour mixed with baking powder. We don’t want it in this recipe:)
Sorry, I take back my word. I left it to cool then tried cutting. It cut very neatly! 🙂 Jazakallah! 🙂
how much quantity is one cup, is it 250gm
Farida, I have tried it today and it came out PERFECT! Thank you!
I will surely try this recipe. I also love the fact that it does not have salt in recipe. My mom must have a low sodium diet.
The center of my baked sponge cake is not cooked.
Not sure if it is because of 1 or more of the following reasons:
1) As i do not have 9″ baking tin so i used my normal 6″ square x 3″ high tin.
2) When i broke the eggs there were some egg yolk that leaked into the egg white.
3) I mixed the egg yolk mixture into the egg white instead of the other way round.
Appreciate your kind advice. Thank you
Thank you for your comment, Doris. The issue could be because of any of the reasons you listed, if not all of them. The pan you used is much smaller, the egg whites will not beat well if there is even a bit of egg yolk, and the folding technique should be the other way around. Hope your cake turns out great next time. Thank you for trying! Enjoy!