It has been a while since I last did a how to post. Shame on me. For that reason I wanted to give you twelve tips today to produce the fluffiest, lightest and best sponge batter. I love cakes with sponge batter, I especially love sponge rolls. If you would like to check out my recipes, please scroll down. I love sponge rolls, because they are fast to prepare, look all fancy and are perfect if you have company coming over. Sponge is also a nice and unassuming companion for any layer cake you want to create. It does not take over flavorwise, it holds back and nicely complements whichever buttercream or frosting you have in mind to fill it with. But sponge batter can be a bit hard to prepare. If you are not careful, it can get dry and it may not rise as much as you had hoped while baking. For that reason I have twelve helpful tips for you how your sponge batter is going to turn out perfect.
#1 Your eggs need to have room temperature
Eggs are what makes a sponge cake fluffy and light, so be sure to use the best eggs you can find and have them at room temperature. Why? Because they will be much easier to beat and will take less time. So be sure to use them at room temperature. If you are anything like me, you will most likely forget to take them out on time. So here is a little trick, put them in a mug with warm water while you take care of step two and you will be good to go.
Beating the eggs is one of the most important steps for fluffy sponge batter. This is because you are beating in air into the eggs so that they can lift the batter while it is baking. So if you don’t want your beaten eggs to deflate while you are rushing around finding utensils and measuring all remaining ingredients, prepare and measure out everything beforehand. Believe me, your batter will come together much better and you will be less stressed out when you start beating the eggs.
#3 Beat egg yolks and egg whites separately
There are different ways of creating fluffy sponge batter. You can either beat the eggs as a whole or you can do it separately. I seem to always get better results beating the egg parts separately, so this is why I recommend you doing it, too. I didn’t own a KitchenAid for many years, so I had to use a handheld mixer and believe me, if you want to beat the whole eggs, you will need to beat them for at least ten minutes or longer. Not so much fun with a handheld mixer, is it? Also, if you beat your egg yolks and egg whites separately, the total amount you need to beat is still much lower, so I still do it that why. And here is another tip, if you use a handheld mixer, start with the egg whites, you can then just continue beating the egg yolks without washing anything.
#4 Beat your egg whites in a fatfree enviornment and don’t beat them for too long
You need to be absolutely sure that your bowl and mixer are completely fatfree before you start beating the egg whites. If there is a little bit of egg white in your egg yolk, that’s no problem, but if you have egg yolk in your egg white, it may not get stiff. To help stabilize your egg white, I always recommend a pinch of salt or a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Here in Germany we don’t have cream of tartar, so this is our way to stabilize it. I usually add the salt when the egg white is foaming and changes color, becomin white, which usually happens after a minute or so. Originally I thought I had to beat the egg white until stiff peaks form, but I learned recently that that was a little over the top, you only need to beat it until soft peaks form (see picture below). This is another reason for me why I prefer beating egg whites and egg yolks seperately, it doesn’t take that long.
#5 Beat the egg yolks until it is lighter in color and thicker
If you are using egg yolks at room temperature, it will take about two minutes for your egg yolks to change to almost white and be much thicker in consistency. Look at the picture below, would you have guessed that this is sugar beaten with egg yolks?
So once you have taken proper care of your eggs, you only are going to fold in any other ingredient. Remember that the eggs are what makes the sponge batter so light and fluffy? If you start stirring flour and cornstarch, you will deflate all the air you put into the eggs and you will have pockets of flour everywhere. We don’t want that. That’s why it is so important to sieve flour and cornstarch so it mixes nicely with the beaten eggs. You will most definitely notice a difference, so be sure to sieve your flour and cornstarch.
Remember that you don’t want to deflate your beaten eggs (I know, I sound like a broken record). So fold in your flour, I recommend using a spatula or a wooden spoon or a whisk. I personally prefer a spatula as it helps me to really check deep down there whether there are any flour pockets. So slowly fold in your flour mix carefully until everything is combined. And once it is, you need to be sure to bake your sponge immediately. Don’t let the batter sit around for too long, but bake right away.
If you want to check whether your sponge is done, poke it with your index, if it springs back, it is done. But be careful not to open the oven door too early, if you are making cake layers, don’t open the door before 15 minutes are over as otherwise the cake may deflate. If you are making a roll, I recommend checking after seven minutes, sponge rolls brown really quickly, I always sit beside the oven and watch like a hawk. Sponge tends to have a rather light color, baking it for too little is definitely better than for too long. For rolls I recommend between 7-9 minutes, for one cake layer about 20 minutes. If you are going to divide your cake layer, no longer than 25-30 minutes.
#9 Immediately take out of springform, if making a roll, immediately roll up inside a damp towel
Do you remember that egg whites don’t like fat? For that reason you should never grease your springforms, only line the bottom with parchment paper. For that reason I like to immediately release the cakes from the springforms once out the oven so nothing can glue to anything. This also holds true for rolls, dampen a towel and place the baked sponge on it and roll it up with the damp towel inside. If you don’t do it while the sponge cake is hot, it is very likely that you will have cracks.
#10 Cut cake layers after it has cooled completely
I have often tried to cut cake layers when the sponge was still warm, very bad idea, believe me. So be patient and wait until it has cooled completely. I have also noticed that more crumbs are produced if you cut it on the day you baked it and less on the next. It doesn’t seem to affect the taste though, but for ease of use I recommend making the cake layers the day before. Be sure to wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
#11 Keep tightly wraped in plastic wrap at room temperature
You already baked the cake the day before and just want to frost it the next? No problem, be sure to wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature as it tends to dry out. If you already know in advance that the fully frosted cake will need to survive for one to two days, I recommend creating a sugar syrup you brush the cake with before frosting. Just heat the same amout of sugar and water and brush each layer with this syrup. Your cake will taste moist and don’t worry, it will not make the cake all wet and uneatable.
#12 Sponge cakes freeze best as a whole
Unfortunately, it is not advisable to freeze sponge if not frosted already. But you can easily freeze the fully frosted cake. Say you made this classic black forest cake. I recommend placing either the entire cake or single slices as a whole in the freezer for two hours or until solid. Once solid, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, etc. and freeze for longer.
You need a few recipe ideas of sponge cake? Here you go:
An Eaton mess cake means sponge cake, berries, whipped cream, and meringue
This is a super fruity version of tiramisu in cake form
This is a German classic, chocolate sponge, cherry filling, whipping cream and chocolate shavings
This is a classic recipe from Austria with a chocolate sponge cake, an apricot jam layer, and chocolate ganache