Sponge Cake is a type of soft cake which is prepared by combining wheat flour with eggs and sugar. The cake gains its identity from the egg foam which forms the basis of this type of cake. The sponge cake is either enjoyed as a standalone dessert or incorporated in other dessert recipes where it is used as the base for food preparation. It is supposed to be one of the first cakes of its kind which was prepared without yeast. The sponge cake is often confused with an angel cake because both are soft and egg based preparations. The only difference lies in their treatment, as angel cakes are prepared using egg whites whereas the sponge cakes are made using whole eggs.
The sponge cakes are widely used as Passover desserts in US because they are non-yeast preparations. These cakes are normally prepared using matzo flour or matzo meal because wheat products cannot be used. The Passover sponge cake recipe varies from family from family and flavorings may include chocolate, apple, almonds, etc.
History of Sponge Cake
- 1420-1520: Italian cooks were revered for their baking skills and during the Renaissance period they were hired in households of many English and French men. During the time, these cooks developed soft biscuit like dishes which were pre-requisite of now famous sponge cake.
- 1615: The earliest recorded sponge cake recipe appeared in “The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman” by Gervase Markham.
- 19th century: The yeast was replaced by beaten eggs which were widely used as raising agent. It became first cake of its kind which was prepared without yeast, where the cake made its entry in various prominent cook books of the era. The sponge cake is prominently mentioned in Maria Child’s prominent cookbook “The American Frugal Housewife”. This indicates that by early 19th century, the cake had established itself as one of the prominent desserts in Grenada. Many variations of cakes inspired with sponge cake were famous throughout European colonies. European patisserie, French Genoise, Anglo-Jewish “plava” and Italian /Sephardic Jewish pan di Spagna, chiffon cake, and Tres leches cake are some of the cakes which were inspired by sponge cake.
- Victorian age: An interesting sponge cake variation called Victorian sponge cake was famous during the era. The cake was so named due to Queen’s fascination with the cake. She preferred to have it with her afternoon tea. Unlike its plain counterpart, the cake was normally sandwiched using jam and whipped double cream. The usage of jam earned cake the nickname jam sponge. Many Victorian sponge cake recipe variations were popular until this date. This cake is also fondly called Victorian sandwich or Victorian cake.
Sponge Cake Recipe- Ingredients
The sponge cake is baked using sifted cake flour, baking powder, eggs, water, sugar, egg whites, salt and vanilla.
Sponge Cake Recipe- Method of Preparation
The cake preparation begins by blending sugar and egg whites using electric mixer. The flour is folded into the mixture slowly using some baking powder or air is seeped into the egg by other methods. Normally egg yolks are beaten first and whites are whipped separately until foamy. The mixture is poured on cake tin and baked. The air is removed from cake by inverting it in a container and cooling it at room temperature. At this stage the cake can modeled into Swiss roll or Bûche de Noël.
This basic sponge cake recipe works for some other forms of cake too.
Popular Sponge Cake Recipes
- Chocolate Sponge Cake: This is one of the popular sponge cake recipe variations which makes use of most of the basic baking ingredients. It mostly resembles a baked mousse. Also, unlike other sponge cake variations this cake is baked in sheet pan instead of cake pan.
- Vanilla Sponge Cake: This is also one of the most favored recipe variations, where vanilla is used as the main flavoring agent of cake. This is one of the popular cakes which is served during special occasions and has often been associated with the very concept of sponge cake. This cake is most popularly used in the preparation of Tiramisu ice cream cake.
- Lemon Sponge Cake: This soft lemon flavored cake is normally served as tea time delight. Unlike many of its popular counterparts, the cake may give out little sour taste.
- Orange Sponge Cake: This is a popular variation of lemon cake, which is normally enjoyed as tea time snack. This cake is usually sweeter than lemon cake.