All You Need to Know About Making a Classic Sponge Cake

  • 01 of 05

    5 Top Tips for Making the Perfect Classic Sponge Cake

    Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake
    Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake. Jon Philpott Photography / Getty Images

    Cake making and baking are intrinsic to British and Irish Food. We are avid bakers and fiercely competitive about the lightness of our cakes. Making a feather-light sponge cake has always been the sign of being a good baker. This has created many myths around the making of a sponge cake, with the dread of it being less than perfect putting many off. Let us dispel those myths, making a feather-light sponge is easy with just a few simple and easy tips.

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  • 02 of 05

    Preparation Is Key to Making the Perfect Sponge Cake

    Cake ingredients
    Dave King Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    Before you begin any mixing, weigh out all the ingredients for the cake so that when you come to start mixing you will be able to work quickly. Working quickly prevents you from over-mixing the cake or conversely, leaving the cake mixture standing while you weigh something out. If the cake mixture stands too long, the cake will start to lose air.

    The tins need to be greased and the bottom lined with baking parchment. If you do this in advance, then the tins can be filled once the cake is mixed. Less lingering means a lighter cake.

    Always preheat the oven before you start for the same reason. Also, arrange the shelves in advance; most sponge cakes like to be in the middle of the oven (unless you have a super-modern fan oven that claims cakes can be cooked anywhere in the oven).

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  • 03 of 05

    Ingredient Temperatures Are Important for the Perfect Sponge Cake

    Mixing cake ingredients
    Dorling Kindersley: Kristan Raines / Getty Images

    Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. Cold eggs do not whip up easily and will not hold the same volume of air as a slightly warm eggs.

    While the cake ingredients should be at room temperature, the butter or baking spread you are using needs to be even warmer but not hot. The butter should be soft but still holding together. If the butter or spread is too soft, it becomes oily and the resulting cake heavy and dense. If the butter is too cold, it takes too long to incorporate into the sugar and eggs and can cause over-mixing, which in turn means a heavy cake.

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  • 04 of 05

    Happy Bakers, Fresh and Eggs, and Sifted Flour for the Perfect Sponge

    Sifting flour
    Dorling Kindersley: Charlotte Tolhurst / Getty Images

    Always sift the flour into the cake mixture, or mix the baking powder with the flour and then sift. Sifting adds air and thus lightness to a cake mixture. Use a cake flour if available; cake flour tends to be milled more finely, resulting in a lighter cake. If you can, find cake flour and then proceed as above by sifting.

    Always use the freshest eggs possible. The whites of fresh eggs will whip up into a frenzy of air, whereas older eggs struggle to hold it together. When whisking eggs and sugar together, whisk thoroughly until the mixture is almost white. This indicates that there is a good quantity of air incorporated into the mixture.

    A happy cake baker will always produce a light cake. Making a cake for family and friends or to simply enjoy with a cup of tea is such an enjoyable process. 

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  • 05 of 05

    Top Recipes Using a Traditional Sponge Cake

    Chocolate swiss roll
    Heidi Coppock-Beard / Getty Images

    Our favorite recipes all use a traditional sponge cake as a base. They are not all "cakes" but the same rules apply. Swiss roll anyone?