Do you want to know the secret to baking the perfect sponge cake?
The perfect sponge cake is one of the easiest things to bake.
Once you know how!
But there are many things that can affect the look and taste of your cake, which can be a little daunting at times. Especially if you have had a disaster bake!
Here are my top tips to make sure you get a perfect sponge cake EVERY time!
I am also sharing my ‘go-to’ recipe for a basic sponge cake. I use this as a base for ALL of my standard cake flavours. Simply adjust the flavourings to suit.
TOP TIP 1 – Find the right ingredients for you
You may think that all ingredients are pretty much the same, but they can make a huge difference to the results of your bake.
For example, butter vs margarine
I personally prefer to use margarine for baking (it must have a high fat content though – so check the ingredients list), whereas others prefer to use butter.
It is all down to personal preference, so it is worth experimenting a little with different brands etc, to find your favourite.
AND – interestingly – the most expensive, isn’t necessarily the best either!!
I use supermarket branded margarine in my baking – my personal favourite is Morrisons ‘Soft spread for baking’ which has a fat content of 70% Vegetable Oils.
Please note – I am not affiliated to Morrisons – it is just my personal choice after trying a few different brands.
Which flour to use?
During the early period of the Covid pandemic in 2020, flour was difficult to find in the supermarkets, and I had to use a different brand to the one I normally use (Bero self-raising is my personal favourite).
Although my cakes were still good, I certainly noticed a slight difference in the texture and taste, so reverted back as soon as I was able to source my favourite brand.
So in summary, try a few brands if you can (including supermarket brands) to find the ones that work best for you.
TOP TIP 2 – Use room temperature ingredients
So this is a big one!
ALWAYS use your ingredients at room temperature – NOT straight from the fridge into the mixing bowl.
Why use margarine at room temperature when baking?
This actually refers to all chilled ingredients – not just margarine.
When at room temperature, margarine, eggs, butter, and other dairy ingredients form an emulsion which traps air. Whilst baking in the oven, this trapped air expands and produces a fluffy baked sponge cake (or other bake).
To bring to room temperature, simply remove from the fridge 1-2 hours before using. This may vary depending on the temperature of your room, so adjust accordingly.
TOP TIP 3 – Line/grease your tins
There is nothing worse than baking the perfect sponge cake – only to find half of it left behind in the tin!!
To prevent this, you can either
- line the bottom and sides of the tin with greaseproof/baking paper
- apply a thin layer of margarine (or oil) and gently dust with flour.
TOP TIP 4 – Get the best results with your oven
Ovens can be temperamental things!
They can have ‘hot’ spots or ‘cold’ spots, then there is the conversion of temperatures, depending if you are using gas, electric, fan assisted etc.
One of my best recommendations, is to get an oven thermometer. Quite often, the temperature on the dial is not as accurate as you think, and can vary.
Simply place the oven thermometer in the oven, before you turn it on, and you can pre-heat to the correct temperature for baking your cake.
What is the best temperature for baking cakes?
To stop your cakes from ‘doming’ in the middle whilst baking, I recommend baking at 140°C for a fan-assisted electric oven.
For other types of oven, you can find a handy temperature conversion chart here
Baking ‘low and slow’ will help to create a more even bake, resulting in a flatter top.
More top tips for baking the perfect sponge cake:
- Place an oven-proof dish, with some ice-cubes in, at the bottom of your oven. This will help to create steam inside the oven, helping to create a moist sponge
- Do not over-bake! Test your sponge with a wooden skewer, until it comes out clean (no crumbs attached).
- Bake on the middle shelf of your oven if possible.
- Avoid ‘hot or cold spots’ in your oven – test with the oven thermometer
TOP TIP 5 – Find the perfect sponge cake recipe
So once you have everything prepared as it should be, you need to find the recipe that works best for you.
We are all different, and our tastes/ways of working are not the same (it would be pretty boring if we were the same).
I am sharing with you my ‘go-to’ recipe for making my perfect sponge cake.
I have had fabulous feedback from customers when I use this recipe for their cakes, as well as from students who have used the recipe themselves.
So, give it a try – you can change out the vanilla extract for other flavours (eg lemon) or adjust the amount you add to your own personal taste.
Perfect Sponge Cake
- 150 g Margarine (or butter)
- 150 g Caster sugar
- 150 g Self-raising flour
- 3 Eggs large
- 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
- Pre-heat your oven to 140C (315F/Gas Mark 2-3).
- Grease and line the base and sides of 1 x 6" round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Beat together the margarine and caster sugar, until pale and fluffy, to incorporate lots of air into the mixture (this will take around five minutes with an electric whisk or with a stand mixer).
- Add the eggs gradually, one at a time, whilst mixing on the slowest setting. Beat well after each addition. You may also wish to add a tablespoon of flour after each egg to help prevent the mixture from splitting. If it does split, don’t worry, it will come back together when the remainder of the flour is added at the end.
- Add vanilla extract and mix slowly to incorporate.
- Add the rest of the flour, mix slowly until the flour starts to be incorporated into the mixture, then stop and continue to fold in gently by hand. Do not over-mix.
- Add the batter to your greased tin, levelling the top with the back of a spoon.
- Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50 minutes. Check if baked, by inserting a wooden skewer into the sponge. If it comes out clean, the sponge is baked, but if a few crumbs are sticking to the skewer, bake for a further 5-10 minutes and re-check.
- Once removed from the oven, leave to cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin first, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
- Allow to cool completely, slice in half and fill with jam and buttercream.
So now – just follow my top tips and recipe to get great results for baking the perfect sponge cake!
Once you have baked your sponge, you may decide to decorate it! For more help with cake decorating, take a look at my other blogs
Other ways I can help you, on your cake decorating journey….
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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Julie Rogerson Limited disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.