Not sure what dessert to bring to your next social gathering? We’ve got you covered. Rather than some store-bought cookies, how about baking a sponge cake? Whether it’s victoria sponge cake, chocolate sponge cake, genoise sponge cake, or another type, you’ll knock the socks off your family and friends. 

What Is Sponge Cake?

OK, perhaps you’re wondering: Exactly what is a sponge cake?

Cakes fall into two main categories: butter and foam. Butter (or shortened) cakes have a higher ratio of fat and contain a leavener like baking soda or baking powder. Foam cakes contain little to no fat and almost never use a leavener. Sponge cake is another way to say foam cake, and this type of dessert is quite light and fluffy.

“Sponge cakes get their volume from the air beaten into the egg whites and the egg yolks, not from chemical leaveners such as baking soda and baking powder,” says Skillshare instructor Amy Kimmel. “They’re really great for people who are kind of health-conscious, as they’re low in fat and low in cholesterol.” 

Different Types of Sponge Cake

There are two primary classes of sponge cakes: American and European.

American sponge cakes are the airiest of the two because the egg whites and yolks are whipped separately. “These cakes typically don’t need any syrups, fillings, or frostings,” Kimmel says. “They have a higher proportion of sugar compared to other sponges which makes them more palatable.” Some popular types are:

  • Chiffon sponge cake
  • Angel food cake
  • Daffodil sponge cake
  • Feather sponge cake
  • Nut sponge cake

European sponge cakes are drier and benefit from frosting, simple syrup, ganache, or mousse. With these, the whole egg is whipped together—you don’t separate whites and yolks. Some examples are:

  • Italian sponge cake (or genoise)
  • French biscuit
  • Ladyfingers 
  • Victoria sponge cake 

What Makes a Sponge Cake Moist?

For this type of cake, eggs provide most of the moisture. It makes sense: Moisture in cakes comes from fats. While sponge cakes don’t have much or any butter or oil, each egg yolk contains about five grams of fat—and there are a lot of eggs in a sponge cake!

How to Make a Sponge Cake

If you don’t know how to make sponge cake, we have good news for you. There are tons of sponge cake recipes out there! This basic American sponge cake recipe is quick and easy. 

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients and Baking Tools

Ingredients and tools for baking a sponge cake.

We highly encourage you to set up your tools and ingredients prior to getting started. For this sponge cake recipe, you’ll need these ingredients.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 ⅓ cup cake flour 
  • 6 eggs 
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar

You’ll also need the following tools:

  • 10” tube pan with removable bottom
  • Mixer fitted with whisk attachment
  • Bowls 
  • Sifter
  • Rubber spatula
  • Straight edge spatula or paring knife 
  • Bottle to cool cake on

Step 2: Separate Your Eggs

egg changinng
Skillshare instructor Amy Kimmel shows how to separate an egg.

Remember: With American sponge cakes, the egg yolks and egg whites are prepared separately. Place all egg yolks into one small bowl and all egg whites into another. 

Step 3: Mix the Sugar and Cake Flour

Combine three tablespoons of sugar with all of the cake flour. Sift together, then set aside.

Step 4: Beat Egg Yolks and Sugar

mix eggs
Skillshare instructor Amy Kimmel shows how to separate an egg.

Pour ¾ cup of sugar into the bowl attached to your mixer and add all six egg yolks. Beat for about five minutes until you reach the “ribbon stage.” 

mix batter
Skillshare instructor Amy Kimmel demonstrates what the “ribbon stage” looks like.

“Your yolk and sugar mixture is ready when you pick up your whip and, as the mixture falls down into the bowl, it leaves a ribbon on the top,” Kimmel says.

Step 5: Add Water, Vanilla, and Sugar-Flour Mixture

After reaching the ribbon stage, turn the mixer on low and add the water and vanilla. Beat on high for 30 seconds. Then, pour that mixture in another bowl and top with the sugar-flour mix.

Step 6: Whip the Egg Whites

mix ege whites
Skillshare instructor Amy Kimmel shows off the stiff peaks of the egg whites mixture.

Pour all six egg whites into your clean, dry mixer bowl. Start mixing on low, add the cream of tartar, then turn the mixer up to medium and whip until it’s foamy. Add the very last tablespoon of sugar, then turn the mixer on high until the mixture has stiff peaks.

“You’ll know it’s the stiff peaks stage because there’s going to be a lot of resistance,” Kimmel says. “Nothing’s moving, nothing’s drooping. It’s very, very stiff, and the points on the peaks are standing straight up.”

Step 7: Mix Everything Together and Transfer Into the Pan

Fold the now-peaked egg whites mixture into the bowl with the sugar, flour, egg yolks, vanilla, and water. Add gradually, folding the two mixtures together slowly. When they’re thoroughly combined and there are no more white streaks, pour it into your ungreased tube pan.

Step 8: Bake and Enjoy!

bundt cake pan
Skillshare instructor Amy Kimmel uses a paring knife to remove her sponge cake from the pan.

Put the cake into the oven at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Use a cake tester to ensure it’s done. Flip the cake upside down and allow it to cool. Then, with a thin knife or spatula, remove the cake from the pan. Eat it as is or add some fresh fruit. Yum!

Make the Perfect Ganache for Your Sponge Cake

Pastry Essentials | How to Make Ganache and the PERFECT Chocolate Truffles

Easy Sponge Cake Recipe 

Adapted from Amy Kimmel’s Skillshare class: Get Started Baking Sponge Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 ⅓ cup cake flour 
  • 6 eggs 
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Take 1 Tbsp of the sugar and set it aside. Take 3 Tbsp of the sugar and add it to the flour.
  3. Sift the sugar with the flour and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, or bowl of stand mixer, whip the egg yolks and remaining sugar for 5 minutes or to ribbon stage. Add water and vanilla and whip again to combine.
  5. Transfer the yolk mixture to another bowl and sprinkle the flour mixture on top, set this aside.
  6. In mixing bow,l whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the Tablespoon of sugar and whip to firm peaks.
  7. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture in 3 stages until combined. 
  8. Immediately pour batter into pan, run a spatula through the center to knock out air pockets, and smooth the top. 
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done. Cool cake upside down for at least an hour before removing from pan.