Chinese Sponge Cake Recipe

Chinese Sponge Cake Recipe

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
182 Calories
3g Fat
33g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 182
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 116mg 39%
Sodium 179mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 54mg 4%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 93mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The secret of this recipe for Chinese sponge cake lies in the fact it is steamed, which makes it more moist than a baked cake. Traditionally, the sponge cake is eaten plain, but you can also serve it with strawberries or other fresh fruit for a light dessert, along with a dollop of whipped cream.

The almond extract and the tang of the cream of tartar give this sponge cake excellent flavor that is similar to a classic angel food cake. It's a simple cake and easy to make. It could be made in a large, wide Dutch oven or saucepan as well. Just make sure the steamer or rack and cake pan leave plenty of room for the lid to fit comfortably.

"The Chinese steamed sponge cake came out great. With the cream of tartar and almond flavoring, it tasted just like an angel food cake. Make sure you sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture in small amounts and fold it in thoroughly each time or you could end up with bits of undissolved flour." —Diana Rattray

Chinese steamed sponge cake
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 5 large eggs

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Chinese Sponge Cake Recipe ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Line an 8 X 8- or 9 X 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Prepare a wok for steaming.

    Parchment paper lined baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Place the flour in a medium bowl. Stir in the baking powder and salt and set aside.

    Dry ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Separate the egg yolks and the egg whites.

    Egg yolks and egg whites separated into two bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat briefly.

    Egg whites beaten until frothy and added the cream of tartar

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and beat for another minute (don't let the egg whites stiffen). Add the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat for about 2 more minutes. Stir in the almond extract.

    Egg mixture beaten together with sugar and almond extract

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Gradually sift the flour mixture onto the egg mixture and gently fold in after each addition. Mix thoroughly, but do not beat.

    Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bring the water in the wok to a high boil, then turn down to medium. Steam the cake, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Cake batter in a baking pan, in a steamer

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Cool the cake on a rack. Invert onto a plate and remove the parchment paper. Invert onto another plate so that the cake is right-side up. Cut into squares.

    Chinese Sponge Cake on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck


  • Make sure your pan sits comfortably on the steamer rack in the wok with enough room for the lid to fit snugly.
  • If you don't have a steamer rack that fits in your wok, try using a small 2-inch high can, emptied of its contents, with holes punched into it—or an Instant Pot steamer or rack. The water level should be about 1 inch below the top of the rack or steamer.
  • The pan should not touch the sides of the wok.
  • Take care when removing the wok lid to keep condensation from dripping onto the cake.
  • To avoid bits of undissolved flour in the cake, sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture a little at a time, folding each addition in thoroughly.

Recipe Variations

  • For vanilla flavor, replace the almond extract with about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
  • You can also bake the cake in an 8- or 9-inch round pan lined with parchment paper.

How to Store and Freeze Chinese Sponge Cake

  • Keep the sponge cake well covered at room temperature for two to three days or in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Wrap cake slices in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to six months. Defrost at room temperature or in the fridge and enjoy.