This easy sponge cake is soft, fluffy, and light as air! It's a simple recipe for basic sponge cake made with ingredients including cake flour, beaten eggs, and sugar for an easy, simple sponge cake that's moist and soft!
This easy sponge cake recipe is passed down from my mom, a retired pastry chef, which I've simplified to make it easy for the home baker. It's an incredibly fluffy, soft, moist, and light cake which can be used with any frosting and filling.
This cake can be sliced into layers and used as a base for any layered cake which makes it perfect for any occasion including birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and other holidays! I've used this recipe for Japanese Strawberry Shortcake and for Swiss Roll Cake.
What is sponge cake?
Sponge cake is a light and airy cake that's that's leavened with beaten eggs instead of yeast. Sometimes baking powder is added for more volume. The beaten eggs act as a rising agent, giving the cake a fluffy, light texture.
There are several types of sponge cakes: chiffon cake, Swiss roll cake, castella cake, angel food cake, genoise cake, and Victoria sponge cake. Though similar ingredients are used, they vary slightly by technique and filling.
The ingredients needed for a basic sponge cake are very simple:
- Cake flour - This gives the cake a lighter, more delicate texture compared with all purpose flour.
- Eggs - Beaten eggs give this cake it's volume.
- Sugar - Use fine granulated white sugar for best results.
- Vegetable oil - This helps keep the cake moist and rich.
- Baking powder - This gives extra volume and rise to the cake.
Step by Step Photos
Here's how to make easy sponge cake with step by step instructions with photos:
- First, beat the egg whites to firm peaks. The tips should fall but the base of the meringue should hold its shape.
- Next, beat the egg yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla, honey, and water together until pale yellow and fluffy. Gradually increase to high speed for best results.
- Combine half the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture and gently fold being careful not to deflate any of the egg whites or egg yolk mixture.
- Sift in the cake flour and baking powder and fold gently. Next add the vegetable oil. Tip: To help incorporate the oil, first mix in a bit of batter with the oil. Then add to the remaining batter.
- Add the remaining half of the egg whites and gently fold together.
- Pour into a six inch cake pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick comes out clean.
The cake will increase in volume as it bakes and have a golden brown crust all over when done. Remove all the parchment paper and allow it to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Ways to Use Sponge Cake
Use this easy recipe as a base for any layered cake or even a roll cake! Here are a few ideas:
- Avoid over beating the egg whites as it will result in a lumpy cake with too many air bubbles. When lifting your whisk, you want the tip of the peak to fall slightly. Over beaten egg whites will look grainy and lumpy.
- Mix the egg yolk mixture on high speed. It's ready when it forms a ribbon trail that lasts three to four seconds when dropped from the whisk.
- When adding the vegetable oil, mix in a little bit of the batter first. This helps incorporate the oil without deflating the batter.
- Sponge cake is done baking when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Look for a raised center and a golden brown color.
- Wait until it completely cools before slicing. This helps get smooth, even layers without tearing.
- The best way to slice layers is to use a cake knife or any long, thin knife with a serrated edge. You can also use a cake leveler for even slices.
Easy Sponge Cake
- 1 cup cake flour
- ⅞ cup white sugar - divided
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar - (optional)
- 6 eggs - whites and yolks separated
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat Egg Whites
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat egg whites with the cream of tartar (if using) on high until it becomes foamy. Next, add ⅓ of the amount of sugar and beat on high until firm peaks form. When lifting the whisk, look for the tip to drop slightly. Set aside.⅞ cup white sugar, 6 eggs, ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Egg Yolk Mixture
- In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, the remaining ⅔ sugar, salt, water, honey, and vanilla. Beat on high until fluffy, pale yellow ribbons form when lifting the whisk. The ribbon should remain for 3 to 4 seconds. Add half the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and fold gently.⅞ cup white sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, 6 eggs, 2 Tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons honey, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Add Dry Ingredients and Oil
- Make batter: Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg yolk mixture in three parts, gently folding after each time. Next add the vegetable oil. Tip: To help incorporate the oil better, mix a few spoonfuls of the batter with the oil before adding.1 cup cake flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- Add the remaining ½ of the egg whites to the batter and fold gently until well combined, taking care not to deflate the batter.
- Line two 6 inch cake pans with parchment paper along the sides and bottom. Pour the batter and bang the pan twice to remove large air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the crust is golden brown with a raised center, about 27 to 30 minutes. See Notes section for additional baking times.
- Remove all the parchment paper and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing. Use a cake leveler for even slices. Serve with whipped cream and fruit or make a layered cake. Enjoy!
✎ Recipe Notes
- Two 6-inch pans: about 27 to 30 minutes
- Three 6-inch pans: about 18 minutes
- Four 6-inch pans: 15 to 16 minutes
- 9x13 inch pan: about 18 minutes
- The most likely reason is due to improperly beating the egg whites. It's very easy to over or under-beat egg whites. Over-beaten egg whites will look grainy and lumpy.
- Old or expired baking powder. Check the dates on your ingredients.
- Baking temperatures can also affect the rise of sponge cakes. It's important not to open the oven as the temperature drop can cause the sponge cake to collapse and deflate. Use an oven thermometer or calibrate your oven if not done recently.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.
Yes you can make this sponge cake ahead of time and freeze. It thaws wonderfully and stays moist, fluffy, and soft. Be sure to store in an airtight, freezer safe container to avoid frost. Thaw in the fridge.
Sponge cakes can deflate due to several reasons. The most likely reason is due to improperly beating the egg whites. It's very easy to over or under beat egg whites. Over beaten egg whites will look grainy and lumpy.
Old or expired leaveners such as baking powder or baking soda can result in deflated sponge cakes. Check the dates on your ingredients.
Baking temperatures can also affect the rise of sponge cakes. It's important not to open the oven as the temperature drop can cause the sponge cake to collapse and deflate.
Regular cake is typically leavened with only baking powder or baking soda. However sponge cake uses whipped egg whites to create volume and rise, which makes sponge cake light and fluffy.