The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

The one cake recipe everyone should have in their repertoire.

The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to sponge cake, the name says it all: this kind of cake has an open, sponge-like texture that gives the most lovely mouthfeel. And while the names may change–Angel Food Cake, Chiffon Cake, Genoise–all of the sponge cake varieties have that characteristic light and airy texture that distinguish them from other cakes. While this Best Vanilla Sponge Cake’s delicate texture is infused with buttery and vanilla flavors, it is also a perfect palate for so many other glorious desserts (more about this later).

The sponge cake has a long, pretty interesting history. Most scholars agree that the first sponge-type cake appeared in Italy during the Renaissance, but way back then it was called a biscuit; then, in 1615, a somewhat evolved version of this biscuit-cake appeared in a book called “The English Housewife: Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman…” this subtitle is, actually, a lot longer but suffice it to say that Mr. Markham (who clearly saw himself as an authority on female virtues!) was giving advice about all things 17th century English housewives needed to know about their households, including cooking: one of those things was how to make a sponge cake!

You can make Vanilla Sponge Cake anytime because the chances are very good that you always have the necessary ingredients in your pantry and fridge. I think you will love how these familiar cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, flour), the ones we use to make regular cakes, combine in this recipe to produce such an ethereal confection.

Queen Victoria loved Vanilla Sponge Cake with her high tea and we can follow suit. Brew a pot of your favorite tea or make some Chia Seeds Tea–any kind of tea goes beautifully with this cake (just make sure you drink it with your pinky up in honor of the Queen who, by the way, the English renamed this cake after because of her love for it: the Victoria Sponge!)

All About the Eggs

While it might be tempting to add all 3 eggs at once, don’t! Adding each egg one at a time ensures that the egg will be fully incorporated into the batter and that is important for a couple of really important reasons. First, adding the eggs one at a time means that each one will make its way fully through all of the batter; second, if you add them all at once, they are going to just incorporate with each other. Why does this matter? Well, for consistency and taste for sure, but also because the complete blending of the eggs into the batter adds mightily to the airiness of the cake.

Here’s the science…eggs contain lecithin, the thing that allows the liquid and fat to emulsify in the batter. And it’s the emulsification that produces the smooth batter you are looking for in sponge cake (or any cake, as most recipes instruct you to add eggs one at a time). If you add the eggs all at once, this gentle, necessary process won’t take place as it should and you might end up with a denser cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened (plus extra for greasing pans)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

How to Make The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F for a conventional oven or 325°F for a fan-assisted oven.

The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

Step 2: Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper for easy release.

The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

Step 3: In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

Step 4: Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in the vanilla extract.

Step 5: Whisk together the all-purpose flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.

Step 6: Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, alternating with the milk, until just combined.

Step 7: Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Step 8: Let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

FAQs & Tips

How to Make Ahead and Store?

Vanilla Sponge Cake should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then it can be left on the counter at room temperature for a day, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for up to 3 months (thaw overnight in the fridge before serving)

Don’t get stuck!

Be sure to grease your cake pans really well with butter AND lay the circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan. This may seem like overkill, but it’s not: these cakes will stick if you don’t take the proper precautions to ensure their easy release from the pans.

Best Baking Tip

All of your ingredients should be at room temperature before you begin mixing them. Softened butter and room temperature eggs and milk are much easier to incorporate into each other and will produce the lovely smooth batter we need for this cake.

The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

Serving Suggestions

You can serve this delicious Vanilla Sponge Cake on its own for dessert, a snack, even for breakfast (who doesn’t love cake for breakfast?). And if you want to add to its vanilla flavor, you can spice up the batter by adding some cinnamon (if you do this, definitely drizzle some Pumpkin Spice Syrup over it!). You can turn this cake into a citrus-lovers dream by adding lemon extract and lemon or orange zest (or both) to the batter. For chocolate lovers, turn this into a chocolate sponge cake by adding some unsweetened cocoa.

This cake is also incredibly versatile as a base for many other desserts. For example, whip up some Creme Anglaise or Diplomat Cream and use either between the cake layers; then top the whole thing with Chocolate Fudge Frosting and you’ll have your own version of Boston Cream Pie. Another great idea along these same lines is to use Strawberries and Custard Cream between the layers and then top the cake with Vanilla Buttercream and sliced fresh strawberries. Or how about a riff on S’Mores? Put some Milk Chocolate Pudding between the layers and then smother the cake with Marshmallow Frosting. Really, this Vanilla Sponge is a perfect palate for wherever your imagination might take you…

The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe
The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Servings 10
Calories 286 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened (plus extra for greasing pans)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F for a conventional oven or 325°F for a fan-assisted oven.
    The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe
  • Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper for easy release.
    The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe
  • In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
    The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Whisk together the all-purpose flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  • Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, alternating with the milk, until just combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 4gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 66mgPotassium: 57mgFiber: 1gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 507IUCalcium: 46mgIron: 1mg
Keyword basic sponge cake recipe, easy vanilla sponge cake recipe, vanilla sponge cake recipe
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