Airy Sponge Cake

Light and Airy Sponge Cake recipe, cake with fresh fruit on a plate

The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
262 Calories
9g Fat
39g Carbs
6g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 262
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 131mg 44%
Sodium 91mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 39g 14%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 23mg 2%
Iron 2mg 14%
Potassium 73mg 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.)

Airy sponges are the king of cakes, as they can be the base for multiple other recipes. Once you've mastered our recipe, make layered cakes, tiramisu, trifle, tres leches, or cake pops. The possibilities are infinite, as the sponge will also soak up any flavored syrup or liquor and can be cut and shaped in any way you'd like. For this recipe, we suggest you brush the tops of the cakes with simple syrup, then fill and top with whipped cream and fresh fruit. A dusting of powdered sugar is a nice touch.

Sponge cake is a light cake that's leavened by the air whipped into the eggs, rather than with baking powder or baking soda. That translates into the need to whip the eggs for a long time—10 to 15 minutes—sifting the flour to add even more air and baking right away after folding the flour to avoid the trapped air from escaping. Our recipe is for a genoise sponge, made with a warmed beaten whole egg mixture and the addition of melted butter—a regular sponge cake does not contain additional fat, and the eggs are usually separated, with the whites beaten and folded into the batter.

Since the sponge has no leavening agents other than the air that is whipped into the egg whites, it is critical to grease and flour the sides of the cake pans so that the batter has something to grab onto as it rises. This cake can be baked in two 9-inch pans, or in one 9-inch and then split the thicker cake horizontally after it has cooled.

Ingredients

  • 5 large eggs

  • About 3/4 cup/150 grams sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • About 1 1/2 cups/150 grams cake flour

  • 1/2 stick/50 grams butter (or clarified unsalted butter or ghee), melted

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making light and airy sponge cake

    The Spruce

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray the cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit the pan. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil on the stovetop, then lower it to a simmer.

    Cake pan with flour on a white marble counter

    The Spruce

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and stir in the sugar and vanilla until blended.

    Sugar and egg mixture in a glass bowl with whisk

    The Spruce

  4. Set the bowl over the saucepan to form a double boiler so that the bottom of the bowl is inside the pan but not touching the water. Stir the egg and sugar mixture over the pot until the mixture is warm, or about 3 to 4 minutes.

    Egg mixture in a bowl fitted in a blue saucepan on a stovetop

    The Spruce

  5. Place the warm mixture into a stand mixer bowl and beat with the whip attachment for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is thick and light. If using a hand mixer, beat for 2 to 3 additional minutes. The eggs will triple in volume and change from yellow to nearly white in color. When you lift the whisk from the mixture, the batter should fall from it in a ribbonlike line and stay on top of the batter for a few seconds before sinking into it.

    White egg mixture in a black stand mixer

    The Spruce

  6. Carefully fold in the flour, then fold in the melted butter. Don't overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan or pans immediately and transfer them to the oven.

    Flour and melted butter folded into batter in a metal bowl

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  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a crumb or two attached. Test after 20 minutes.

  8. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes in the pans on a wire rack. Loosen the edges by running a knife along the sides, turn the cakes out onto the racks, and cool for at least another 45 minutes.

    Baked light and airy sponge cake on a wire cooling rack

    The Spruce

  9. Once the sponge is cooled off completely, assemble the desserts of your choice.

    Light and airy sponge cake and fresh fruit on a white marble board

    The Spruce

  10. Enjoy.

How Can I Keep the Most Air in My Sponge?

The key to avoiding deflation is to not overmix and to fold everything carefully. You can put about 1 1/2 cups of the egg batter in a separate bowl and use a whisk to stir in the warm melted butter. Then sift the flour again—about half of it at a time—over the large bowl of batter and fold it in. Finally, fold in the butter mixture and bake as directed.

For Best Results

Here are the master rules for a fantastic sponge:

  • Make sure the bowl of your stand mixer is very clean and dry.
  • Measure your ingredients.
  • Use fresh eggs, butter, and sugar, all at room temperature.
  • Use the pan size suggested by the recipe.
  • Don't substitute ingredients.
  • Fold the flour and butter carefully into the egg mixture.
  • Use a fully preheated oven.
  • Place the cake in the center of the oven.
  • Avoid opening the oven door until test time.

How to Store Sponge Cake

Store in plastic wrap for up to two days at room temperature, or up to five days in the refrigerator. To freeze, wrap the cake well and freeze it for up to two months. Thaw overnight before using.