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Easy Sponge Cake

This Easy Sponge Cake recipe is delicious and quick to make. My light and moist vanilla sponge cake is super versatile. It can be used to make layered birthday cakes, strawberry shortcakes, trifles, icebox cakes, mini desserts, and more.

Cake slices on a cooling rack showing inside of the cake.

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Updated post from 2011.

HOW TO MAKE EASY SPONGE CAKE

This simple Vanilla Cake is favorite with kids and adults alike.

Fill it with Whipped Cream, Swiss Buttercream, German Buttercream, Ganache, Chocolate Mousse, Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Ganache Frosting or jam. Or enjoy it dusted with powdered sugar with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Baked sponge cake on a cooling rack.

CAKE INGREDIENTS

  • Flour – all-purpose, for super tender crumb use cake flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Eggs – separated, at room temperature
  • Oil
  • Warm Water or Milk
  • Vanilla Extract
View from above showing cake ingredients in small bowls.

BAKING PANS

You can use round, square, rectangle baking pans to make your sponge cake. I’ve used this cake to make my very tall Holiday Peppermint Cake using 4-6 inch cake layers. This cake can be stacked with proper supports, too.

EASY SPONGE CAKE PAN SIZE
1 Batch 9-inch round or square pan
1 Batch 2 – 8-inch pans
cakes are not very tall and they bake quicker
Double Batch 10-inch pan, line the sides of the pan with parchment,
use a heating core, makes a tall cake
Double Batch 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan
1 and 1/2 Batch 4 – 6-inch cake pans

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a baking pan. Spray the pan with a nonstick spray and line it with a parchment and spray again with a non stick spray. Or alternatively brush with melted butter and dust with flour.


Today I doubled my recipe and I used a 10 inch pan. To make sure my 10 inch cake baked evenly I also used a heating core/flower nail that I sprayed with a nonstick spray.

Round cake pan lined parchment paper.

DRY INGREDIENTS

What I love about this recipe is that I don’t need any special flour. Plain, all-purpose flour gives fantastic results; for a super-fine crumb you can use cake flour). In a large bowl whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Mixing flour and baking powder in a bowl.

MERINGUE

Start by bringing eggs to room temperature. Leave eggs on the counter for about 30 minutes. Or you place eggs into warm water. They will be at room temperature in about 5 minutes or so.

Next, separate egg yolks and egg whites. I always start with a clean, grease-free bowl. With a wire attachment beat egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar (or use 1/2tsp lemon juice or vinegar) until foamy. Then gradually beat in about half of the granulated sugar listed in the recipe. Beat egg whites until a stiff and glossy peak is formed.

OVER WORKED MERINGUE

It’s easy to overwork meringue. It is best to stop the mixer a few times while whipping meringue and test if a stiff peak is formed. When meringue is over mixed it becomes grainy. The grainy, overworked meringue will make your cake dry.

Scrape out stiff, glossy meringue out into another bowl. Next we’ll prepare egg yolks. No need to wash the mixer bowl.

Egg white in a bowl. Beaten meringue in a bowl.

RIBBON STAGE – EGG YOLKS AND SUGAR

Into a bowl add egg yolks and remaining granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high speed till pale in color and doubled in volume. Scrapping the bowl a few times to ensure egg yolks are thoroughly blended in. Beat until mixture reaches the ribbon stage.

RIBBON STAGE

Ribbon stage is a baking term that refers to batter consistency. It is reached when batter lifted up with a whisk, spoon, or spatula falls back down into a bowl slowly forming a ribbon. It should hold its shape for a few moments, slowly disappearing, blending into the mixture.

After you reach the ribbon stage it’s time to add oil. Slowly in one continuous pour beat in oil on low to medium speed. Blend well. Then pour warm water into a measuring cup. And gradually, slowly in one continuous pour beat in warm water. Scrape the bowl a few times to ensure the mixture is homogeneous. I’m using warm t water to make sure all of the sugar crystals are completely dissolved.

With the addition of water, the mixture will become thinner. Next, you can beat in Vanilla Extract and continue beating for 2 minutes, until the mixture becomes very light in color and aerated.

Beating egg yolks and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer.

SPONGE CAKE BATTER

Gradually fold sifted flour alternating with meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Do not stir. It is important to fold the ingredients into the yellow egg yolk mixture. Stirring will deflate the cake batter significantly resulting in a dense cake batter.

Once no more flour streaks are visible in the cake batter give it 3 more folding strokes. Especially go with the spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is thoroughly mixed.

Sifting flour into egg yolk sugar mixture. Folding in flour and meringue.

BAKE SPONGE CAKE

Pour sponge cake batter into a prepared cake pan(I doubled the batch and baked 10-inch cake today). Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. Check the cake after 30 minutes, if the top is browning too much quickly place foil over it to prevent over-browning. (This is usually not an issue with 8 or 9-inch cakes.) And continue baking for additional 5 minutes. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, without any crumbs attached to it.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes then invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Use a kitchen towel to handle a hot baking pan. Remove the flower nail.

Cake pan filled with cake batter. Baked cake with a foil dome on the top.

Let the cake cool till lukewarm then wrap it in a plastic wrap and let cool completely at on the kitchen counter.

Baked cake wrapped in a food wrap.

HOW LONG DOES SPONGE CAKE LAST ?

Stored in the fridge, covered, in a container or bakery box cake lasts for 5 – 6 days. You can keep unfilled sponge cake at room temperature for 2-3 days.

CAN I FREEZE SPONGE CAKE?

Freeze sponge cake right after it cools, tightly and well wrapped in a food plastic wrap. I prefer freezing it without the filling. You can freeze a sponge cake for up to 3 months. Let it thaw on the counter.

WHY IS MY SPONGE CAKE DENSE?

Sugar crystals were not completely dissolved. Also, under-mixing can be an issue. Stirring instead of folding the batter at the last stage of mixing.

MY SPONGE CAKE DIDN’T RISE, WHAT HAPPENED?

Check the raising agent expiration date. It can also mean that cake wasn’t baked long enough.

CAKE SANK IN THE MIDDLE, WHY?

  • Opening the oven door in the early stages of baking can cause the cake to sink in the middle.
  • Closing the oven door too abruptly.
  • Cooling the cake too quickly. Don’t move freshly out of the oven-baked sponge cake to a cool, drafty room.
  • The batter sits too long before it goes into the oven.
  • Over-beating of the batter at the last stage.

MY SPONGE CAKE IS DRY, WHY?

Over-beaten egg whites. Over baking. To amend a dry sponge, use simple syrup.

WHY DO I HAVE GIANT HOLES AND TUNNELS IN A CAKE

This is usually caused by over-mixing. Quick solution, fill the holes with buttercream.

WHAT IT THE BEST ICING FOR SPONGE CAKE?

There is a great variety of icing/frostings that work well with a sponge cake. My personal favorites are Whipped Cream, German Buttercream, Lemon or Raspberry Curd, Chocolate Ganache Frosting (especially white chocolate frosting is delicious with raspberries), jam, or any fruit filling such as Strawberry Mousse.

CAN I USE BROWN SUGAR?

Yes, to make brown sugar sponge cake, you can use 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar and brown sugar. For example, when using 1 batch of sponge cake recipe, use 1/2 cup granulated sugar to prepare the meringue, and other 1/2 cup of brown sugar to cream the egg yolks.

CAN I MAKE A 2 TIER CAKE USING THIS RECIPE?

Yes, you can. Be sure to use a proper stacking method. Don’t stack a really heavy cake on top of a sponge cake. For example, don’t stack a pound cake on top of a sponge cake.

Cake with a top trimmed showing the inside of the cake.

I often make a double batch of my sponge cake recipe and bake it in a 9x13x2 (33 x 23 x 5 cm) inch cake pan.

Baked rectangular cake on a cooling rack.

I used this fluffy sponge cake recipe to make:

Three different cakes made with a sponge cake.

TO MAKE EASY SPONGE CAKE YOU NEED

MORE DELICIOUS CAKE RECIPES :

5 from 4 votes
Sliced sponge cake on a cooling rack.
Easy Sponge Cake
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
 

This recipe makes one tall 9-inch inch cake.

If using an 8-inch cake pan, line the sides of the pan as the cake will be a little taller than a 9-inch cake.

You can double this recipe to make a 10-inch cake or a 9×13 rectangular cake. Be sure to use a heating core if using a 10-inch round cake pan.

1 and 1/2 batch fills 4-6-inch cakes.

Course: Breakfast, Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Czech, French, Slovak
Keyword: easy sponge cake, low fat cake, sponge cake
Servings: 10 people
Hanielas.com: Hani B.
Ingredients
EASY SPONGE CAKE
  • 4 eggs egg whites, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (200grams)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200-210grams) -divided
  • 4 tbl oil
  • 4 tbl warm water
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of cream of tartar (or use 1/2tsp lemon juice vinegar) – it helps to beat the egg whites into their full volume and helps with over beating, too.
Instructions
EASY SPONGE CAKE
  1. Preheat oven 350F. Butter and flour your baking pan, line the bottom with parchment. Or use nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour (1 cup and 1/2cup,200grams), salt (1/4tsp), and baking powder (1tsp), set aside.

Meringue
  1. In a clean bowl or your stand mixer, whip egg whites ( 4 egg whites) with a pinch of cream of tartar or 1/2tsp lemon juice/white distilled vinegar(optional). Beat until foamy. Then gradually add 1/2 of the granulated sugar (1/2cup,100grams). Beat until stiff, shiny, and moist peaks are formed. Don't overbeat, or meringue will be dry.

  2. Gently scrape the meringue into another bowl. Set aside. Now we are going to prepare egg yolk mixture, no need to clean the mixer bowl. Yay. If you are using a hand-held mixer, you'll need to use 2 bowls to prepare meringue and egg yolk mixture.

Egg Yolks and Sugar – Ribbon Stage
  1. Place egg yolks (4 egg yolks) into the mixing bowl. Bowl doesn't have to be spotless. Add remaining granulated sugar (1/2cup,100grams) to the egg yolks. Beat using wire whip attachment. Beat the egg yolks at medium-high speed. Scrapping the bowl once or twice to ensure all egg yolks are well blended in. Beat until the ribbon stage is reached. About 5 to 6 minutes. The mixture will be thick, doubled in volume and pale in color.

  2. Gradually in one continuous pour add oil (4 tablespoons), mix well. Then gradually add warm water (4 tablespoons). Scrape the bowl in between. Beat in Vanilla Extract (1 teaspoon) and beat for 2 more minutes. Turn off the mixer.

Sponge Cake Batter
  1. Using a fine mesh strainer,  sift about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and carefully fold the flour in with a spatula, then add about 1/3 of meringue and fold it in. Continue with the rest of the flour and meringue until no streaks are visible. Then make the last 3 folds, making sure you go with the spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Be gentle and don't over mix. You are looking for a light and airy batter.

Bake
  1. Fill your prepared baking pan(s) and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. 10-inch can take up to 35 minutes to bake.

  2. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then invert it on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Wrap the cake in a food safe plastic wrap.

Storage
  1. Store undecorated/unfilled cake covered in the fridge for up to 5 days until ready to use. Or fill the cake with your favorite frosting. Store in the fridge for 5 days. If using whipped cream make sure to use some gelatin to stabilize it so whipped cream doesn't weep.

    Unfilled cake keeps at room temperatuer for 3-4 days.

Recipe Notes

1. MY SPONGE CAKE DIDN’T RISE, WHAT HAPPENED? 

Check the raising agent expiration date. It can also mean that cake wasn’t baked long enough.

2.CAKE SANK IN THE MIDDLE, WHY?

  • Opening the oven door in the early stages of baking can cause the cake to sink in the middle.
  • Closing the oven door too abruptly.
  • Cooling the cake too quickly. Don’t move freshly out of the oven-baked sponge cake to a cool, drafty room.
  • The batter sits too long before it goes into the oven.
  • Over-beating of the batter at the last stage.

3. MY SPONGE CAKE IS DRY, WHY?

Over-whipped egg whites. Over baking. To amend a dry sponge, use simple syrup.

4. WHY DO I HAVE GIANT HOLES AND TUNNELS IN A CAKE? 

This is usually caused by over-mixing. Quick solution, fill the holes with buttercream.

5. WHAT IS THE BEST ICING FOR SPONGE CAKE?

My personal favorites: Whipped Cream, Vanilla German Buttercream, Lemon Curd or Raspberry Curd, Chocolate German Buttercream, Swiss Buttercream , jam, or any fruit filling like Strawberry Mouse.

6. MAKING 9×13 INCH CAKE. SHOULD I DOUBLE THE RECIPE?           

Yes, double the recipe, bake the cake for 25-30, check it, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes longer, then check again. If the cake is browning too much on the top, loosely cover the top with a foil dome.

7. CAN I FREEZE THE SPONGE CAKE?

Yes, you can freeze the cake. Wrap it well in a food wrap, place it into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Allow to defrost on the counter, then unwrap the cake, and use is desired.

8. CAN I USE BROWN SUGAR?

Yes, you can use brown sugar to make brown sugar sponge cake. Use 1:1 ratio of white granulated sugar to brown sugar. Add white granulated sugar to the meringue and brown sugar to the egg yolks.

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I updated this post from 2011 with brand new process pictures and written text.

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43 Comments

  1. Hi Hani…. I love this recipe it turned out amazing. I do have a question…. would you happen to have a recipe to make a chocolate sponge cake or what could I add to make it a chocolate one?

  2. From day 1 to Nth number of time I made this cake it’s a hit each time.. perfect measurements and perfect sponge everytime.. Thank you so much..

  3. Hello! Can’t wait to try this recipe. When you bake in the 9x13x2 (33 x 23 x 5 cm) inch cake pan, do you use the heating core/flower nail?

    1. Hi Christina,
      yes I prefer to use a flower nail for that size of the pan, I mostly use double batch for that size but if you make a single batch you should be fine without the heating core/flower nail.
      Keep me posted how it goes.

  4. Hello,
    I would like to make a four-layer 8-inch cake. Can I bake this recipe as is into two 8” x 2” pans and slice lengthwise or four 9” x 2” pans or should I double the recipe for a four-layer 8” or 9” cake? Also, can I reduce the sugar and if so, by how much? Thank you.

    1. Hi Ally,

      I’d make one batch and bake 2 – 8 inch cake. So to make 4 layers you’d need to bake twice unless you have 4 – 8 inch cake pans and can facilitate the baking all at once in a large oven.

      I don’t think you’ll need to torte the baked cakes, they won’t be as tall, doming should be minimal as well.
      As far as sugar goes this cake not very sweet as it, but you can reduce sugar by 1/4 cup.

      1. Thank you. I have four 9” pans. Can I make a four layer cake using one recipe or should I double it to fill four 9” pans? Also, do you suggest using sugar syrup on the layers?

      2. Hi Ally,
        You’ll need to double the recipe to fill 4-9 inch pans. Yes, syrup is nice. Depending on the filling, if you are using moist filling (like, jam or lemon curd) you probably won’t need to use syrup.

  5. I’ve tried sponge cake two times didn’t come out fine.I will try this recipe.Prat it comes out fine😊😊

    1. Hi Hani,
      I want to make one rectangle cake for a birthday cake using the recipe you have shared. What dimension pan do I use and how long do i bake the cake for?
      Thank you,
      Divya

      1. Hi Divya,
        I use 9X13 inch cake pan. I usually make a double batch when using this pan. Check it at 28-30 minute mark.

  6. Hi! Really love watching all your videos! This recipe is great but if you have any vanilla cake recipe without eggs that good for cake decorating as well as good as plain cake in itself, please share that as here in India people prefer cake without eggs . Thanks

    1. Hello,
      I don’t have any eggless cake recipe at the moment. Hopefully in the near future. Thank you.

  7. Hello! I want to bake this for my sisters birthday, but I only have the 9in standard round pans. If I want to do a 3 layer cake, should I make this into one cake and slice the layers or separate the batter in 3 cake pans?

    1. Hello Carolina,
      I’d make double batch and separate into 3 pans. Thank you. Happy Birthday to your sister.

  8. If i want to make 10 inch cake…do I really need to double everything? : ) 8 eggs seems a lot!
    My mom used to make sponge cake like this and it was always delicious, so I really want to try this recipe! I just hope my cake will raise like yours! : )))

    1. Hi Sas, You can definitely use 4 eggs only, but your sponge won’t be as high in 10 inch pan. There is also a less of a chance it will come out dry as it will bake pretty fast in 10 inch pan.

  9. Sponge cake is my husbands family’s favorite cake! They love it with “flour”icing. Will definitely give yours a try!

  10. Hanka, I do the same… it was my very first cake I made as a child, it was the first cake I made here in Greece (and everybody was excited about the softness of this cake).
    It is really really wonderful and very versatile sponge cake..
    I do it half-half (white and cocoa added and folded to create a 2 color-cake), I use sometimes orange juice instead of water (fantastic orange sponge cake) or even a bit of strawberry jam added works fantastic.
    Really lovely cake! and super easy to make!

  11. I always have such a hard time getting my cakes this tall. I have to try using cream of tartar next time.

  12. Is love to have this with fruit and cream. This is my all time favorite way to eat cake 🙂 beautiful, Hani!

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