Corner Café

May 28, 2008

Feather-Light Sponge Cake with Jam & Cream

Filed under: Cakes & Cupcakes — SeaDragon @ 9:05 pm
Tags: , ,
Cornflour Sponge 05

Earlier this year, in an episode of one of my favourite cooking programmes, ABC1’s ‘The Cook and The Chef’, Maggie Beer (the cook in the title) baked what she called a fail-proof sponge cake, using a recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s cookbook. For those of you outside of Australia not familiar with these two names, let me tell you that Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer are both household names here in Australia. They had co-authored ‘Tuscan Cookbook’ after travelling to Italy together on a cooking tour. Stephanie Alexander is a renowned restaurateur and of course wrote ‘The Cook’s Companion’, generally regarded as the cooking bible for Australian.
Maggie Beer, on the other hand, is the driving force behind the revival of an ancient cooking ingredient, verjuice. She is also the producer of the commercially available verjuice here in Australia. For those of you not familiar with this ingredient, verjuice is an acidic juice made from unripe fruit, primarily grapes, which is used in cooking as a gentle acidulant. Maggie also appears weekly here in Australia on the aforesaid TV cooking programme, and has just recently released her new cookbook, ‘Maggie’s Harvest’.

Anyway I digressed, the cake in question is a cornflour sponge cake, a uniquely Australian-style sponge which is feathery-light and wonderfully soft and fluffy. The two halves of the cake made by Maggie rose so high that when she sandwiched them together, the cake looked like a tower! It was a reverent moment for me! I have baked cornflour sponge a few times before, and none had risen as dramatic as the one shown in that programme. Of course, I had used different recipes before. So I just had to try out this recipe myself. This recipe asked for cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda to act as raising agents. Although I had seen a few other sponge recipes using these two ingredients as raising agents before, I always thought they were just older recipes from times when baking powder was not easily available and I usually just substituted with baking powder instead. Now I know better! I made this cake, albeit with very slight adjustment, using just two eggs, which is usually just one half of a normal sponge, and look!

Cornflour Sponge 01

The cake rose nearly to the rim of my 6cm tall cake tin! Wow! Wow! Wow! The cake batter when I filled into the tin was less than half the height of the tin! So do not be alarmed that the batter may not be enough if you’re going to try this recipe, bake it and be amazed!

Cornflour Sponge 09
See how light and airy the texture of the cake is – the bottom half of the cake was actually about the same thickness as the top half before filling, but the combined weight of the jam and cream had squashed it down due to its softness and lightness!

Makes one 20cm cake

[Ingredients]
50g (5 tablespoons) cornflour *
10g (1 tablespoon) vanilla custard powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon salt
100g (scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar

To serve:
1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam, slightly warmed for easier spread
1 quantity Crème Chantilly
Pure icing sugar, to dust

* The cornflour used here is the wheaten cornflour, or wheat starch – NOT the real corn starch.
http://cornercafe.wordpress.com/
[Preparation]
1. Preheat over to 170°C. Butter a 20cm x 5cm deep round cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Sift together cornflour, custard powder, cream of tartar and soda twice.
2. Beat egg whites and salt in an electric mixer until bubbly. Gradually beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until thick and meringue-like. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Fold in sifted dry ingredients gently but thoroughly, do it in two batches.
3. Spoon mixture into the prepared tin and place in middle of oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cake feels springy when touched lightly in centre.

Cornflour Sponge 02

4. Remove from oven and cool for about 5-10 minutes in the tin on a wire rack, away from draughts, then carefully slip cake out of tin and peel off paper.
5. Invert cake on a clean tea towel lined wire rack and cool completely. When cold, split the cake in half horizontally, spread the bottom sponge half with jam, then top with the cream. Place the other sponge half on top and dust lightly with icing sugar.

Cornflour Sponge 03
Spread the bottom half of the cake with jam.

Cornflour Sponge 04
Cover with a layer of crème chantilly.

Cornflour Sponge 08
Place the other half of the cake on top and dust with icing sugar.

Texture: Airy, fluffy & feathery-light
Consume: Best within 1-2 days
Storage: Chill, covered, in the refrigerator
Recipe Reference: ‘Jackie’s Mum’s Sponge Cake’ recipe from ‘The Cook’s Companion’ by Stephanie Alexander

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111 Comments »

  1. Hi Seadragon

    Just to check with you, the wheat starch you mentioned is’deng fen, 澄粉’? Is that the one you used for making the dimsum, har kow? Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Rei — June 4, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  2. yipee Seadragon!! i’m so happy that you are back in the blogging world!! i love your old blog and still visit it often as a reference. I just made this cake, but i made a mistake. I didn’t read your comment about not using cornstarch until the cake was baking!!! Even with my blunder, the cake came out really nice and light. I thought it was a little bit dry, maybe because i didn’t use any filling. anyway, WELCOME BACK!!

    Comment by kk — June 4, 2008 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Rei,
    I used the cornflour sold here in Australia, I have a pic of it in the ‘Flours and Starches’ page in the sidebar, scroll down to the cornflour pic, the red package one on the right named ‘Kream Corn Flour’, is what I used. If you have cornflour at home, look at the ingredient on the package, if it says ‘made from wheat’, or ‘wheaten cornflour’, then it is wheat starch.

    Yes, the ‘deng fen’ is the same thing, you can use that.

    Hi kk,
    Wow, you already made it, so quick. So glad to hear you used the real cornstarch and it turned out well too. The reason I specified wheaten cornflour is because that is the traditional cornflour used for making this cake, in fact, most of the cornflour sponge recipes specifically asked for it, not the real cornstarch.

    Yes, you need to serve the cake with whipped cream or it will taste dry since no liquid or melted butter is used to make the cake.

    Comment by SeaDragon — June 4, 2008 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  4. Hi,
    I have register in the forum – cafe of the east today successfully but did not rec’d the password tho the email.

    How can i join the forum? Pls help me.

    Thank you very much.

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 6, 2008 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  5. Seadragon…so glad I chanced on this blog….like many, I still look at your old blog…continuing to learn from it…now, this new blog will be even more awesome!

    Comment by asan — June 7, 2008 @ 11:05 am | Reply

  6. sweetcandy,
    I just checked the forum, you’re listed as a member already. The password is what you entered in the form when you registered. Can you log into the forum at all?

    Comment by SeaDragon — June 7, 2008 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  7. asan,
    Glad to have you here, enjoy :)

    Comment by SeaDragon — June 7, 2008 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  8. Hi,

    Thank for the fast reply, will check it out and let u know.

    Thank you.

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 8, 2008 @ 12:22 am | Reply

  9. Hi,
    Still cant log in and realized that my email address should have a .sg behind ie. bake95@yahoo.com.sg
    Please resend the activation code to my email address.

    Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

    Thank you

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 8, 2008 @ 12:34 am | Reply

  10. Hi,

    still unable to login. Realised that my email address was incorrect. It should be bake95@yahoo.com.sg Please resend activation code.

    Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

    Thank you

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 8, 2008 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  11. Dear SeaDragon,
    Good to see you back. Will be back soon (very soon)!

    Comment by mrshbt — June 11, 2008 @ 7:17 am | Reply

  12. Hi SeaDragon,

    Still cant log in to the forum and realise tat i key in wrong email address. It should have .sg behind. Can you please resend the activation code to me again.
    bake95@yahoo.com.sg

    Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

    Thank you.

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 11, 2008 @ 4:36 pm | Reply

  13. Hi SeaDragon,

    Still cant log in to the forum and realise tat i have key in the wrong email address. It should have .sg behind.

    Can you resend the activation code to me again.
    bake95@yahoo.com.sg

    Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

    Thank you.

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 11, 2008 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

  14. Hi SeaDragon,
    Still cant log in to the forum cos i don’t have the activation code and realise that i have key in the wrong email address. It should have .sg behind.

    Can you resend the activation code to me again.
    bake95@yahoo.com.sg

    Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

    Thank you.

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 11, 2008 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

  15. Hi

    Have tried to leave comment in this site but cant see it, wonder if it go to the spam comment.
    so this act as a testing.

    Thank you

    Comment by sweetcandy — June 11, 2008 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  16. Dear SeaDragon,
    What can I use to substitute vanilla custard powder?

    Comment by mrshbt — June 12, 2008 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  17. mrshbt,
    Thanks, good to be back :)

    Just use 60g cornflour instead of the [50g cornflour + 10g custard powder], and if you still want the vanilla flavour, substitute 1 to 2 tablespoon(s) of the caster sugar with vanilla sugar.

    Comment by SeaDragon — June 12, 2008 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  18. Thanks SeaDragon for the custard powder substitution.

    By the way, I made your coffee swiss roll cake this afternoon. Yummy as usual. My girls and hubby was licking the leftover cream from my mixing bowl. I followed your instructions carefully and the cake was spongy and beautiful.

    Comment by mrshbt — June 15, 2008 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  19. mrshbt,
    Very happy to hear you have success with the Coffee Swiss Roll.

    Comment by SeaDragon — June 16, 2008 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  20. sweetcandy,
    So sorry, your comments all went into the spam comments and I didn’t check them until now as another member also told me she had the same problem of not receiving activation code.

    I don’t actually send out the activation code personally, it is done automatically by ‘Aceboard’ who provides the free forum service I’m using.

    I think what happen is that the activation email went into the junk mail section of your email because it may regard that as a spam too, can you please check and let me know if that is the case. If not, I need to try and contact ‘Aceboard’ and see if there’s anything I can do.

    Comment by SeaDragon — June 27, 2008 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  21. sweetcandy,
    I’ve done a change to registration at my forum, now I’m accepting registration without the email confirmation. I’ve deleted your previous registration. Please can you register again, hopefully this time there will be no problem. Fingers crossed :)

    Comment by SeaDragon — June 28, 2008 @ 11:06 am | Reply

  22. Hi SD,
    I don`t have vanilla custard powder, so what ingredients i can substitute for it?
    Thank you

    Comment by Honey — January 15, 2009 @ 1:10 am | Reply

  23. Honey,
    Do you have the normal custard powder? Use that if you have. If not just use cornflour to substitute, so in total use 60g cornflour for this recipe. HTH.

    Comment by SeaDragon — January 15, 2009 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  24. Thanks for your answering. When I have time, I will try this recipe.

    Comment by Honey — January 15, 2009 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  25. Hey Seadragon! you’re a great baker and ur recipes are awesome. I recently tried out this recipe but unfortunately i failed ): i tried baking this cake twice, the first time it raised really high but when i took it out from the oven it sunk. My second attempt failed as well, it didn’t raise at all the second time. What do you think could have gone wrong? But even though it didn’t raise, it tasted great and everyone loved it.. Please help me. Thank you

    Comment by J — January 27, 2009 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  26. Hi there,
    Sorry to hear about your two failed attempts. Your first failed cake sounds like you did not fold in the flour properly. The second failed cake could be egg whites not beaten to stiff peaks or too vigorous/heavy-handed folding of flour and consequently deflating the air bubbles in the beaten egg.

    Remember to sift the flour mixture at least two times before you do anything else. When you are ready to fold in the flour mixture, sift the flour mixture onto the egg mixture, don’t be too greedy and add too much flour mixture at once. It is better to do it in small batches. Even though the recipe say to do it in two batches, you could do it in even smaller 5-6 batches if you’ve failed before. Just sift a thin layer of flour mixture to cover the surface of egg mixture, then fold in using a metal spoon; from the edge of the bowl, dig down to the bottom, scoop up and drop the batter back. As you do this use your other hand to turn the bowl, until you cannot see any more dry flour. Then repeat with sifting another batch of flour mixture onto the egg mixture and fold in. Do it slowly and steadily and you should be fine. HTH. Good luck with your next sponge!

    Comment by SeaDragon — January 28, 2009 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  27. Wonderful recipe – I had made a perfect sponge cake some many years ago and lost the recipe. I do have another question though. My Mother used to make ‘fairy cakes’ for birthday parties etc. during and just after the war years when everything was rationed.(we had chickens so no problem getting eggs) She used a cupcake kind of sponge for the little cakes (would make 12) and then for the cream she used cornflour – and I can’t remember what else. This was a war time recipe and was delish – HELP – anybody know what the ingredients for the cornflour cream could be…?

    Comment by Cindy — March 4, 2009 @ 4:14 am | Reply

    • Cindy,
      Thanks.

      Is it ‘Mock Cream’? This Mock Cream recipe is from my copy of PWMU Centenary Cookbook (1904-2004), a lot of recipes in there are old-fashioned recipes, so I hope it is what you’re after:

      1 tablespoon cornflour; 1 cup (250ml) milk; 1 tablespoon butter; 1 tablespoon caster or icing sugar; flavouring

      Blend cornflour with a little cold milk. Heat remainder of milk and add blended cornflour. Stir until boiling and cook 2 minutes. Cool. Cream butter and sugar, and gradually add the cornflour mixture, beating well. Flavour as required.

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 4, 2009 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

      • Thank you thank you thank you – three times….. lol! Your Mock Cream recipe sounds like it could be it…..!!! I am going to give it a try next weekend. What a great site this is…. Thanks again.

        Comment by Cindy — March 12, 2009 @ 5:54 am | Reply

  28. Hi SD. I tried this cake, and it turned out as you mentioned – very soft and fluffy. And yes, quite dry. A couple of questions for you – my cake also sank slightly as it was cooling after I took it out of the tin. Is it normal to have a bit of sinking, especially since there is little gluten in this recipe since it is substituted from corn starch. The other question is whether you have tried doubling this recipe to make two cakes. Can the recipe be doubled or tripled successfully without tweaking? Thanks.

    Comment by LT — March 8, 2009 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

    • LT,
      Yes, a little shrinking is normal as the cake is held up by air and the weak structure of the cornflour only. The hot air pocket in the cake structure will shrink as it cools (hot air expands, cold air shrinks).

      I have not tried doubling the recipe. If you want to double the recipe for two tins; triple for 3 tins, that should be OK, as long as you got enough space in your oven to bake them. HTH.

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 8, 2009 @ 10:11 pm | Reply

  29. Thanks for sponge recipe, sounds like my mum’s, will try and let you know how it goes

    Comment by Judy — June 19, 2009 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  30. wow i will definetley try it ima student and i love baking its my absolute favourite thing to do anyway thank you for the recipe keep up the good work

    Comment by onnet — February 14, 2010 @ 9:39 am | Reply

  31. Hi! I’m going to to try this cake for my mom’s birthday! I was just wondering though, can I use a silicon pan? I mean, I have tin ones, but I was just wondering. Please respond as soon as you can. Thank you very much! :)

    Comment by thetroubledwriter — September 6, 2010 @ 1:34 am | Reply

    • You can try it and let us know… I have never use silicon pan so can’t really say either way.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 6, 2010 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  32. hey, cake was complete disaster for me…too sweet and went crispy on top. 100 g sugar…is that not too much? any ideas where i went wrong?

    Comment by starseeker — October 23, 2010 @ 6:29 am | Reply

    • Yes, this recipe is slightly sweeter than most other cornflour sponge cake, after all I’m only following Stephanie’s recipe (which actually asked for 1/2 cup sugar and I’ve reduced it slightly already, and her original recipe paired the sponge with passionfruit filling so that may have balanced the sweetness with the sourness much better). If you find it too sweet, reduce the sugar next time or use another recipe from someone else, or use whipped cream instead of sweetened whipped cream for the filling. However bear in mind that changing the quantities may affect the end result as well, e.g. the cake may not rise as much.
      Remember we all have different taste, some of us have sweeter tooth, so my recipes I shared here may not suit you. It is always better to compare a few different recipes first before trying to avoid disaster! For example compare this recipe with the one from AWW, Wendy’s Sponge Cake and see the slight differences.

      Comment by SeaDragon — October 23, 2010 @ 8:04 am | Reply

  33. Hi seadragon,

    I just tried your recipe to bake the sponge cake but it failed miserably and i am not sure what went wrong… I baked the cake at 170C for 18-20 minutes at the middle of the oven but the insides are all wet and squishy… I know i did achieve stiff peaks for the egg white but i left out the salt and i did fold the powdered ingredients in batches…

    Lemme check with you abt some baking steps:

    1. Do i need to grease the sides of the cake tin?
    2. I checked some other websites where they baked at 180-190C instead…do u think that maybe the problem?
    3. What should be the colour of the sponge cake when its fully cooked? Your cake pictures showed beige in colour, or should i bake till totally brown?
    4 Should i use a stick and test if the cake has wetness? it is not mentioned in yr receipe

    Thks for your help

    Comment by baker's apprentice — November 14, 2010 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

    • Hmm, that’s strange. You did not overbeat the egg whites, did you? Also did you use fan-forced oven? If so , you need to reduce oven temperature by 20°C, meaning you need to bake at 150°C (please read About the Recipes in the sidebar before you attempt any recipes here in my blog). To answer your questions:

      1. Yes, grease the sides of the tin (as mentioned in step #1).
      2. No, don’t increase the tempearture or else outside is overcooked before inside is done.
      3. It should be the colour as shown in my picture.
      4. Yes, you may check with a skewer if you are not sure. Usually we check the doneness of sponge cake by touching the surface and it should feel springy and light.

      Comment by SeaDragon — November 14, 2010 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  34. hi seadragon… thks for yr reply. ;)

    The oven is pretty old while i dont see any fan inside the oven other than the heating element which means the temperature i used should be correct.
    I think i got the stiff peaks and the egg whites dont seem to be disintegrating due to overbeating..How does overbeating the eggwhite affect the cake?.. I think it should be the temperature and duration that is affecting the cake… I forgot to mention that i am using corn starch instead of cornflour which i read from another user that he got good results nevertheless. Baking sponge cakes have never been my forte and its really depressing to see that the effort applied doesnt show results… Would be nice if there is video for the recipe too!! hehe… :P

    Thanks again ;)

    Comment by baker's apprentice — November 14, 2010 @ 4:21 pm | Reply

    • By overbeating the egg whites, the cake won’t rise! It is better to under-beat if you are not sure. By the way, I just thought of one thing, make sure you use eggs at room temperature, cold eggs from the fridge do funny things to sponge cakes!

      Comment by SeaDragon — November 20, 2010 @ 8:45 am | Reply

  35. Hi SD

    I just baked this cake but it didnt turn out like in the pictures. It did rise a lot but it was not springy to touch and it was stuck to the baking paper. Usually with your recipes I have great result. Maybe I need to give it another try.

    Comment by Diana — December 10, 2010 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

    • Hmm, it should be very easy to peel off the baking paper. Did you peel off the ppaer whilst still warm?

      Just a guess, did you use cold eggs to make the cake? That’s a big no no! Must always use room-temperature eggs.

      Comment by SeaDragon — December 10, 2010 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  36. I lived in Australia for two years before moving back to the states. Still, I am not sure what the US equivalent of Cornflour would be? Any suggestions?

    Comment by Arizona Baker — January 28, 2011 @ 9:14 am | Reply

    • There are two types of cornflour sold here in Australia.

      One which is the real cornflour, this is what you call cornstarch in the US.

      The other one is wheaten cornflour (used in this recipe), basically it is wheat starch. You should be able to buy this in Asian/Chinese grocery stores/supermarkets. The Chinese name for it is 澄麵粉, the easiest way I think is to print out the Chinese name and show it to the shop assistants. Hope this helps.

      Comment by SeaDragon — January 28, 2011 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  37. Ahhh.. this does help. We have a HUGE asian market here in Arizona.

    Comment by Arizona Baker — January 29, 2011 @ 5:19 am | Reply

  38. Hi SeaDragon, I made this sponge yesterday and it was absolutely delicious. Because I’m in the US and I did not have the right type of pan – a cake pan with very high sides, I had to use something a bit different. The closest thing I had was a springform pan for cheesecakes. It measure 24 cm, or 9.5 US inches. The sides, however, are quite high which is what I felt I needed. To make up for the size, I fiddled just a bit with the recipe. I added approximately 25% more of each ingredient. I didn’t have the custard powder either (not overly common here) and I used more wheat starch. I found Wheaten Cornflour or Wheat Starch at my local Asian grocery store in the Chinese food section, btw. It is also available in Chinese online grocery stores if you do a google search – in case anyone here in the states is interested.

    The cake baked beautifully and after letting it cool in the springform pan for about 10 minutes, I simply released the lock on the pan and the cake let go easily from the sides. I used parchment paper to cover the bottom plate and I didn’t cut it into a round. Just in case the tin leaked any of the liquids in the recipe, the excess paper would have caught it. Turns out the only thing that leaked out of the pan was a bit of the butter when I greased the bottom and sides of the pan.

    Very easy to slice and next time I make it, I will slice it into three levels instead of two. I’ll use less cream and jam in each layer, but I think it will be a good balance of cake to filling. This cake rises so high that you can do this easily.

    Great recipe and I’m happy to have made it with great success. Thank you!

    PS I have Stephanie Alexanders Cook’s Companion book, but I must have a different version to you. My Aussie hubby bought it for me in 1998 and it does not contain this recipe.

    Comment by Arizona Baker — February 3, 2011 @ 3:33 am | Reply

    • Glad to hear you were able to get the wheaten cornflour, and thanks for the fantastic feedback!

      Comment by SeaDragon — February 5, 2011 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  39. what is wheaten cornflour,is diff from corn flour?

    Comment by fatima — April 10, 2011 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

    • Wheaten cornflour is actually wheat starch. Have a look on the package of your cornflour, if it says made from wheat then it is wheaten cornflour. Otherwise it is the real cornflour made from corn/maize.

      Comment by SeaDragon — April 10, 2011 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  40. Hi Seadragon,

    I made this cake twice.

    The first time it completely failed. And I realized it was because I did not beat the egg whites enough, also the eggs were refrigerated rather than room temperature.

    The second time it turned out much better. Light and fluffy! In the oven it rose quite high, but when cooling it drop back down a little. It was not as high as yours in the finished picture. What am I doing wrong??

    My husband decided to try it the same night and his also did not turn out as high as yours.. Please help!!

    Comment by Marble — April 25, 2011 @ 11:28 pm | Reply

    • First question, did you use the weight measure or the volume measure? I would recommend the weight measure to get the best result.

      If you did use the weight measure, then the problems could be due to techniques of beating and folding in of flour. Practice, practice, practice is the key, it took me a few years of making sponge cakes to get it completely right. This also does not ensure all my sponge cakes are perfect, sometimes if I’m rushing, they still failed for me…

      Also make sure you beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, but not over, again this will come with experience, and this will ensure the best rise. Make sure the flour is thoroughly folded in, technique is important to ensure you do not deflate the air bubbles in the batter. HTH.

      Comment by SeaDragon — April 26, 2011 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  41. [...] Feather-Light Sponge Cake with Jam & Cream В« Corner CafГ© May 28, 2008 … Recipe Reference: 'Jackie's Mum's Sponge Cake' recipe from 'The Cook's Companion ' by Stephanie … [...]

    Pingback by cake sponge recipe — May 14, 2011 @ 12:27 am | Reply

  42. Hi- you state that the egg whites must be ‘bubbly’. This is very different to ‘frothy’ and you don’t mention it needing to be white, frothy and with stiff peaks (as if preparing meringue mix). I didn’t see the comments until I had made the cake and thought while mixing it that it was odd not to be making it stiff and frothy. I realise as an experienced cook that I bear some responsibilty for a stupid mistake, but It might be a good idea to be more specific in the recipe instructions!!

    Comment by Lucy Lloyd — July 17, 2011 @ 3:29 am | Reply

    • I do apologise for that. However, you have to keep in mind that most blogs are written by amateur cooks, so we do not have someone to proof-read or check any mistakes in the recipes. We are only doing it as a hobby! I do try to write as clearly as I can but sometimes mistakes (or unclear instructions) do crop up. Also I’m not here to teach, I’m only sharing recipes (for free!) that I have tested. I’m not earning a single cent for all the recipes here! If you want professional written recipes that are clear and precise, then spend some money and buy the cookbooks.

      As for the bubbly/frothy stage, the egg whites do not have to be stiff before you add sugar, soft peaks is what you aim for, then you add sugar, that is when you need to beat it to stiff!

      Comment by SeaDragon — July 17, 2011 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  43. I obtained this recipe from my friend’s mum – after tasting her delicious cake, I knew I had to make it for myself!

    After making it and failing first time round, I now know where I made the mistakes.

    I am very inexperienced with cake making and wondered if you beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer also? Apologies if it sounds like a silly question.

    Thank you :o)

    Comment by Kimberley — September 28, 2011 @ 11:51 pm | Reply

    • Use the lowest speed to beat in the egg yolks, you just want to mix it into the beaten egg whites and not to deflate the beaten egg whites.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 29, 2011 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  44. Seadragon:

    I found your food blog not long ago. Thanks for sharing those wonderful recipes online. Your food blog is very helpful, especially to Chinese overseas.
    I can’t find wheat starch where I live. Can I substitute that with whole wheat flour? Please advise. Thank you very much.

    Comment by Gina Ajero — October 2, 2011 @ 9:41 am | Reply

    • No, whole wheat flour still has gluten. Depending on what the recipe is, it is best to replace wheat starch with another starch, such as cornstarch or tapioca starch.

      Comment by SeaDragon — October 2, 2011 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  45. [...] cream. I have already posted the jam and cream version coupled with the delightfully light and airy cornflour sponge cake.This time, I have done a more classic version of the sponge cake. With this version, the eggs are [...]

    Pingback by Basic Sponge Cake with Passionfruit Cream | foodeliciousheaven — October 5, 2011 @ 6:17 pm | Reply

  46. Hi SD, Clara here. Guess what? I’ve tried baking this! I made some adjustments to the recipe. It has a weird outcome = I’d call it a process that was a complete diaster with wonderful result!! LOLL! Let me explain :P

    Firstly, instead of trying out your original recipe for the first time, I jump start to try a modified recipe. I wanted a Choco cake, n I also wanted a coffee cake. Since I can’t make up my mind, I thought “how about choc + coffee, will that give me a mocha cake?” LOL. So, trying to act smart, I modified using 40g cornflour + 10g cocoa powder + 10g cake flour + 60g sugar + choco emulsion + coffee essence. I read your comment about your cake being soo soft that it couldn’t take the weight of your filling. So I thought perhaps I could add “some other flour” that’s why there’s the cake flour. Also reduced the sugar to 60g (but it was still kinda too sweet for me, esp if I’m gonna use filling n frosting).

    Disaster 1 – I recalled some advice from somewhere on the net telling me that it’s good to use a big wide mixing bowl to do the folding of flour to stiff egg whites so we don’t have to dig deep into a narrow/small mixing bowl, which will result in heavy hand folding. So, smart or stupid me placed 2 miserable egg whites into a big mixing bowl and used a hand mixer to whisk it (so I can fold the flour in a wide surface area later). Oops! 2 whites r so little in volumn that I really had such a hard time whisking it, let alone to stiff peak lol.

    No matter how I whisk, I just can’t seem to get it stiff. Being lazy n all to transfer n re-do it, n not wanting to over-whisk either, I ended up folding my flour into the shiny, smooth soft peak whites.

    Diaster 2 – Since I couldn’t whisk it up to a good volume n stiff peak, I really had very little egg whites to work with lol. The amount of flour folded in to that little whites – just not too nice! I bet I had deflated whatever little air pockets it had by the time i finished lol.

    Diaster 3 – After pouring into my 8inch diameter x 3inch height round pan, the batter is barely only 2cm high. I already declared my cake as failed attempt even before baking. As it baked, only the middle part rose a little like a mini mountain, perhaps by a tiny 1cm tall only LOL, whilst the side remained as at 2cm lol. Took some pics but yet to know how to post it here or wordpress blog though :D

    Result – as I removed the cake to cool n flipped it over, I was amazed by the touch of it!! How could it feel so spongy n fluffy n light! OMG! Shouldn’t it be dense and heavy due to all the above disaster!! I couldn’t resist trying the cake, and simply took the blunt spatula I was using to release the cake from the pan, to forced cut a pc of the cake. Oh my the cake is so soft that the crumbs just fell all over as I cut it! It taste exactly what it should be, Feather Light, Soft n Fluffly! One thing though when I tried it right away when cake has cooled, it didn’t taste as dry as I was expecting. It simply just “melts in my mouth”. But the next day, which is today, I ate the cake again and it did feel a little dry by now (noting that I left the cake on the table, with just a food cover with holes over it lol), but it’s still very light, soft n fluffy!

    I put a round steel rack which I used to cool the cake on top of the cake to “weight-test” it lol (i know I sound silly), glad it remained at 2cm lol. But perhaps the rack’s weight is not heavy enuff with another layer of cake + fillings? idk…

    whatever it is, thank you so much for the recipe! I’d use this as a cake base for my layered cake with cream or mousse, as I think the dry part will go well with it. I’m already planning to try my 2nd modification tonight or tomorrow – that is I might try to add some oil/butter to the recipe to see if it can even out the dryness. Also to see if I can get it whisked up to stiff peak this time round lol.

    ** Note though the final cake flavour is too mild. It’s neither chocolatey nor do I whiff any coffee in it lol. I would modify the cocoa and coffee the next time I bake this too :)). Cheers!! (sorry for long post…)

    Comment by Clara — November 18, 2011 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

    • LOL, after all that, the cake still turned out soft, you must have done something right. There is actually also a traditional ginger/cocoa version of this featherlight sponge cake called Ginger Fluff. I might make one in the near furure and post the recipe, would be good for an alternative Christmas cake in hot weather.

      Comment by SeaDragon — November 21, 2011 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  47. This is the “funny” cake I made mentioned above lol. http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/810/photo1854.jpg/ and http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/341/photo1858.jpg/ so soft n light so fragile! lol http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/405/photo1861

    Comment by Clara — November 23, 2011 @ 7:04 pm | Reply

  48. oops last link should be this. can’t edit post so repost here http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/405/photo1861.jpg/

    Comment by Clara — November 23, 2011 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

    • They looked very good! They looked like the ones I made using baking powder instead of the soda/tartar combination :)

      Comment by SeaDragon — November 27, 2011 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  49. Can I make this cake but with coffee or chocolate flavour? How should I modify the recipe?

    Comment by Ess — January 28, 2012 @ 6:38 am | Reply

    • Not too sure about modifying to add coffee flavour as there is no liquid used for this recipe, unless you can try adding finely ground instant coffee powder. For chocolate flavour, you can add cocoa powder. Do a serach for Ginger Fluff which is a variation of this recipe but with ginger flavour (it has a little cocoa powder added as well). Otherwise my suggestion is just make this plain version and ice the cake with coffee or chocolate icing.

      Comment by SeaDragon — January 29, 2012 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

      • Thanks for the rapid response and advice! I am looking forward to trying this out…

        Comment by Ess — January 30, 2012 @ 6:37 am | Reply

  50. Hi! Tried making this today, but couldn’t manage to get the egg whites to beat into stiff peaks…added salt and followed all the instructions carefully, but I think my egg whites had too little volume, were only a bit bubbly. Result? Lopsided cake which didn’t rise very well. Grr! I have tried to make a sponge several times now and thought I might have a chance of succeeding at this recipe. Any ideas what I did wrong?!

    Comment by Ess — January 31, 2012 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

    • A couple of reasons. To beat egg whites successfully:
      1. Make sure when you separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, you must NOT leave any traces of egg yolks in the egg whites.
      2. NEVER USE plastic bowl to beat egg whites, use a stainless steel bowl or glass bowl, and make sure they are spotlessly clean and no traces of any type of oil or other fats.

      Comment by SeaDragon — February 1, 2012 @ 6:24 pm | Reply

      • Thanks again for quick reply, SD! I am *DETERMINED* to produce something like the picture – not the chipboard-like flat stodge I have made so far…(but my two boys manfully consume it anyway ;0)

        Comment by Ess — February 1, 2012 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

        • hi hi, also *from experience* don’t whish 2 miserable egg whites in a big mixing bowl! loll … n make sure yr eggs are at room temperature :) – Clara

          Comment by Clara — February 24, 2012 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  51. Hello, First of all, let me begin by telling you that within 10 minutes of discovering your blog, I am already in love with it. I am working my way through the archives. However, I want to try this recipe tomorrow for a weekend picnic. I have baked cakes before but my sponge cakes have always been disasters. They are usually dense and messy or rubbery (like bread). So I want to make sure I have my understanding rite before trying this. The recipe says to beat in egg yolks after the egg whites are thick. Do you mean beat the yolks into the whites? Wont that make the whites deflate? Or should i beat the yolks separately and then fold them into the whites? Also, my oven typically takes arnd 30-35 minutes to bake most cakes. Should i still set it to 20 minutes for this?

    Comment by Poornima — February 18, 2012 @ 3:45 am | Reply

    • Take 2: better but still not very high. About half as high as in the pic above. At least edible this time. Not like last time, lol! Have had to use real cornstarch, half amount blended with half custard powder…but not getting egg whites to beat very stiff, dunno why…they don’t form peaks – as someone above has commented, it is difficult to get volume with only two whites…I beat the yolks on lowest speed on mixer into the whites, btw Poornima. So, any more tips?!

      Comment by Ess — February 18, 2012 @ 6:40 am | Reply

      • Hmmm, that’s strange. Did you reduce the sugar? That could affect the volumn if not enough sugar is used.

        Oh, I forgot to ask, did you use cold eggs straight from the fridge? That could be another problem, let the eggs come back to room temperature before using (please read About the Recipes page in the sidebar). Better still, take the eggs out of the fridge the night before to make sure. Another thing, you can also wipe the bowl you use to beat the egg whites with a little vinegar or lemon juice to make sure it is absolutely clean, also the whisk must also be clean and free from any oil or grease. Hope these tips help. Keep persevering, it took me many many tries before I was successful with making sponge cakes.

        Comment by SeaDragon — February 18, 2012 @ 9:00 am | Reply

    • Poornima,
      Thanks for your kind words. As for your queries, yes, beat yolks one by one into the meringue-like egg whites. You don’t have to worry as the sugar in the egg whites has stablilized the meringue, unless you do something drastic, the meringue will be quite stable. If you are still worry, yes, you can also beat the yolks first then fold into the meringue, just make sure the yolks are thoroughly combined with the whites.

      As for the oven temp., check after 20 minutes, because there are no fats or liquid used, the cake baked faster. Please also read the About the Recipes page in the sidebar for more info for all my recipes. HTH.

      Comment by SeaDragon — February 18, 2012 @ 8:49 am | Reply

  52. hi is this cake gluten free as my child and my self are not allowed to eat gluten. please could you let me know………thanks

    Comment by may — March 31, 2012 @ 5:13 am | Reply

    • Hmmm, that’s good question. I’ve never considered it before. Well, if you use real cornstarch (made from corn), then it should be fine, and replace custard powder with more real cornstarch as custard powder is made from wheat as far as I know. Do you use bicarb. of soda and cream of tartar normally for gluten free baking, as I’m not too sure about these two?
      The best way is replace any suspect ingredients with your normal gluten free substitute, I think?

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 31, 2012 @ 7:53 am | Reply

  53. hi hi all again, just another tip from my own disaster experience about beating 2 miserable egg whites and not able to get peak/volumn. I tried whisking it in a big mug (or use soup bowl) with a hand mixer with just 1 whisk attachment (I removed the other). Much easier for me to whisk to get the peak this way loll. after that I just transfer by scooping the whites lightly (cos u don’t want to deflate it) to another bigger mixing bowl. :D

    Comment by eelyskitchen — April 3, 2012 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  54. testing

    Comment by Clara — April 3, 2012 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  55. hi SD, hi all again, just another tip from my own disaster experience about beating 2 miserable egg whites and not able to get peak/volumn !! lol .. I tried whisking it in a big mug (or use soup bowl) with a hand mixer with just 1 whisk attachment (I removed the other). Much easier for me to whisk to get the peak this way loll. after that I just transfer by scooping the whites lightly (cos u don’t want to deflate it) to another bigger mixing bowl. :D

    Comment by Clara — April 3, 2012 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

    • Haha, good idea. I just whisked them by hand using a fork, LOL.

      Comment by SeaDragon — April 3, 2012 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  56. HI SD, After a couple of attempts I have managed to produce a very decent sponge. While it did not rise as high as yours, it was certainly high enough to be acceptable. I did add an extra egg to my final attempt and would be interested on your comments on having more eggs and how this affects the final outcome. I must say that even the first couple of failed attempts produced a very tasty sponge and we ate it just as it was with no cream or anything.

    I did find that initially the sponge took a lot more than 20 minutes to cook, so before I tried my final attempt, I checked my conventional oven using a thermometer and found that my oven needed cranking up to 190 degrees to get an oven temperature of 170. I wonder if correcting my oven temperature also may have helped me achieve a better result. Just thought I would mention it to help other readers. Thanks SD for this site. I really found it very helpful.

    Comment by Sue — April 20, 2012 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

    • That is interesting. Did you just increase the egg without increasing the other ingredients? If so, then you have changed the proper baker’s percentage of the recipe. Less sugar will affect the height as well as moisture, less cornflour will affect the structure of the cake, etc. So I would advice if you want to increase by one egg, then increase all other ingredients proportionally.

      Comment by SeaDragon — April 28, 2012 @ 11:20 am | Reply

      • Hi again SD. I have now returned to using just two eggs but I am using XL rather than L. Results are still wonderful. Just one more query – I am confused with the different manufacturing sizing of cake tins. Is your 20 cm cake tin measurement taken from the bottom of the tin or is it on the top from rim to rim? I would think that it would be more practical for manufacturers to use the inside or the bottom measurement of the tin, as that’s where the cake mixture goes, or may be I am being over pedantic with just a few centimeters difference and the kitchen shop told me it will make no difference anyway but I am not sure.

        I do just love this cake. I never thought I could ever produce a sponge as light as this one. It’s inexpensive to make and doesn’t take long to put together. LOVE IT. Thanks so very much for your blog and recipe.

        Comment by Sue — May 1, 2012 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

        • I know, it is very confusing. My tin is measured on the base (outside) of the tin as 20cm, but I’m not that fuss as 1 or 2 cm off is fine with me as long as I adjust baking time.

          Comment by SeaDragon — May 12, 2012 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  57. I just stumbled across your site looking for Ginger Fluff Sponge cake which my husbands grandma used to make and lost her recipe. My cake rose beautifully, followed all instructions, cake edges sort of flopped over slightly towards centre of cake when cooked, perhaps after reading all your tips to others, I might not be folding in the flour quite right, not sure. Perhaps could be also over mixing my egg whites, any suggestions? Wallaby Brisbane

    Comment by Wallaby — May 13, 2012 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

    • Hmm, I can’t quite get the image of it in my mind, LOL. Is it sort of rolled over, with the sides higher than the centre? Did you use a dark coloured tin? My guess is it could be the oven temperature if the cake tasted fine.

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 13, 2012 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  58. yes sides sort of rolled over and higher than the centre. My tin was round 22cm spring form, dark grey lined with white baking paper on bottom and sides. My oven is fan forced, do you mean my oven too hot or too cold? cake tasted lovely, I filled the centre with whipped cream just like you do a pavolva and left the outside edges alone. I mixed the egg whites in an electric bench top mixer and folded my dry ingredients ingredients into that bowl, which is quite deep, should I tip the whipped whites into a wider, bigger bowl to fold in flour etc?
    Thanks for you help, love your site SD

    Comment by Wallaby — May 14, 2012 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

    • Aha, yes, it is too hot. If you are using fan forced oven, you need to reduce the oven temperature by about 20C, or do not turn the fan on if you want to cook at 170C. Also since you are using a bigger tin, you might want to check the cake a few minutes earlier as the cake would have a wider area from direct heat and would cook faster.

      You said the cake tasted fine, so your technique is fine, just the oven temperature causing problem.

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 14, 2012 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  59. Hi SD my steps for whisking the whites are in a stand electric mixer with the whisk attachment. 1. Salt and whites are whisked on a slow speed until bubbly. 2. Speed is increased to high and the whites are brought to a foamy ribbon stage. 3. Sugar is gradually added to mixture until thick and glossy and the peaks slowly fall over. I did look at Maggie B’s method which says not to bring to a peak (perhaps she means stiff peaks?). Anway can you confirm that I am doing this correctly. Many thanks.

    Comment by Sue — May 16, 2012 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

    • That sounds fine to me. I would beat the egg whites to just under stiff peaks, as using any electric mixer/beater to beat always has the danger of overbeating if you are not paying attention, so better be safe than sorry and have to throw out the batter. And yes, I think Maggie means stiff peaks.

      However, having said that, I do find that when making meringue, ie. beating egg whites with sugar is actually very hard to overbeat, sugar tends to stabilise the egg whites. And this recipe has almost the identical proportion of egg whites to sugar as meringue/pavlova, 50g sugar to 1 egg white, as compared to other cornflour sponge recipes that have lesser amount of sugar. It is when you are beating egg whites by itself that I tend to overbeat and destroy it.

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 16, 2012 @ 10:49 pm | Reply

  60. Hi Sea dragon, I have just found your ‘Feather light sponge cake’ recipe and it looks ‘Delicious’! Cant wait to make one and eat it!! Thankyou, Guy ( from England!)

    Comment by Guy — May 22, 2012 @ 2:28 am | Reply

  61. This is a beautiful cake my favorite thank you x

    Comment by jean — August 13, 2012 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  62. Hi SD,
    I’ve just started baking and I really learnt a lot from your site! I tried making this as a birthday cake and it was truly light and delicious! I baked mine in a 6 inch tin and it rose to the rim, but sort of sunk in the center when I inverted it for cooling. Not too sure what went wrong. Could it be that the egg whites were not properly beaten (i used hand whisk but am quite sure it was almost stiff peaks) or was oven too hot?
    Is it also possible to reduce the amount of sugar in the batter and the cream? My folks loved the fluffiness but would prefer it to be slightly less sweet.
    Thank you!

    Comment by Min — September 14, 2012 @ 2:24 am | Reply

    • If you change the size of the cake tin, you must adjust baking time. Also you might have overbeaten the egg whites.

      You may reduce the sugar a little bit, but the cake may not rise as much with less sugar. I have tried other recipes with less sugar and they never rise as much. The other option is to use sour filling to balance the sweetness, eg. passionfuit cream, lemon curd, instead of jam and cream.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 14, 2012 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  63. What are difference of corn flour, cream of tartar and baking soda ?

    Comment by Kate tan — March 17, 2013 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

    • Corn flour is a starch, here in this recipe I am referring to wheaten corn flour which is a wheat starch obtained from wheat flour (i.e. separating the gluten from the starch in wheat flour).

      Cream of tartar and baking soda are both raising agents. Cream of tartar is an acid, baking soda is an alkali, so an acid will react with an alkali, just like the effect of using baking powder.

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 17, 2013 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  64. My cake smelt of egg after baking also the the outside of the cake formed a crisp meringue like texture. Is this how it’s meant to be? Thanks in advance

    Comment by aniqah — March 31, 2013 @ 9:02 am | Reply

    • When the cake smells eggy when baking, it usually indicates you did something wrong and the cake has failed. And no, there should not be a crisp meringue like texture on the outside. That sounds like there was a separation of the egg whites to form that outer layer.

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 31, 2013 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  65. Thankyou for your reply.I love your site! You are so talented. How do I stop my cake from smelling of egg?

    Comment by aniqah — April 1, 2013 @ 5:57 am | Reply

    • It shouldn’t if you have done everything correctly. The eggy smell indicates you did something wrong, either the beating of eggs, not folding the flour in properly, or other reasons.

      Comment by SeaDragon — April 14, 2013 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  66. Hi SD ,made ur sponge and the first time was a great succcess,have made it another 3 times and have had no luck.Not quite sure what l am doing wrong. The top is merigue like. Please help :)

    Comment by Kiara — May 13, 2013 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

    • Hmm, it is impossible to say as I do not know what you did differently from the first time. Just watch the usual suspects – eggs were too cold, did not beat the eggs correctly, overbeating the egg whites, did not fold in the flour properly… HTH.

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 13, 2013 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  67. Just want to say a massive thank you for this recipe- I’ve been having a blast working on it! Two things I’ve found that may help everyone else:
    1. the best test of if the cake is cooked is the smell. I tried baking it today with a slightly blocked nose and pulled them out just a bit early (luckily one was saved and went back in before utter disaster!)
    2. The flour mix (No custard powder, so tapioca flour and a small hint of cinnamon used instead along with a drop or two of vanilla mixed in with the yolks) can be mixed in on a kitchenaid/stand mixer on the absolute lowest setting (I rather suck at hand mixing, so this was a godsend for me to find out!), as long as the mixer is turned off as soon as the last bit combines in (I’ve been adding it in a tablespoon at a time) :)

    Comment by Minnie — July 5, 2013 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  68. I’ve made this sponge twice and it has sunk in the middle. Any idea why?

    Comment by Barbara — July 6, 2014 @ 11:09 am | Reply

    • Sounds like you might have overbeaten the egg whites. Also make sure eggs are at room temperature before using, best if eggs are left out overnight outside the fridge. Fridge-cold eggs are the worst enemy of sponge cakes.

      Comment by SeaDragon — July 6, 2014 @ 11:33 am | Reply


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