A Classic American Sponge Cake Recipe

A good versatile sponge cake recipe is essential to any baker’s arsenal. Sponge cakes have two types: American and European. It is a great recipe to have on hand, because you can do so many things with it. You can serve a sponge cake plain, with a dusting of icing sugar on top or served with fresh or preserved fruit and whipped cream. You can also use it to prepare your layered cakes, and decorate them with fillings and frost them on the sides.

The ingredients for an American sponge cake call for cake flour – unlike the European version that makes use of the self-rising flour. The American sponge cake also does not require butter and it has more eggs in it. The yolks and whites are separately beaten–resulting in a spongier and finely-textured cake. The resulting product is light and airy because of the air beaten into the eggs.

What You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, grated
  • 1 1/3 cups of cake flour, sifted
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 6 whole eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar

What You Have to Do

  1. Preheat your oven to 180° Celsius.
  2. Whisk the sifted flour with the baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Put the egg yolks and about 2/3 cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl and beat them together.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, water, and lemon zest. Set aside the yolk mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are foamy.
  6. Add the cream of tartar and the remaining sugar to the egg whites, and beat them all together until you can see soft peaks form when you raise your whisk.
  7. Next, quickly fold the flour into the egg yolk batter (1/3 at a time).
  8. Slowly and gently fold the egg whites into the batter as well.
  9. Pour the resulting batter into a pan, smoothing the top over with a spatula.
  10. Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until it feels springy to the touch. You can also place a toothpick at the center of the cake. It if comes out clean, then you’ll know it’s already cooked.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the cake to cool first.
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