This Simple Sponge Cake recipe uses a few simple ingredients, is totally foolproof and super easy to make! The perfect sponge for layering with your favorite frostings – I am sure it will become your go-to sponge cake recipe.
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Every baker needs to have a foolproof recipe for a basic sponge cake. This simple cake uses a few everyday ingredients and yet tastes delicious, is easy to customize and perfect for creating big layered cakes.
I have simplified my sponge cake recipe so that it is incredibly EASY to make and always turns out perfect. This sponge recipe is ideal for birthday cakes or celebration cakes of any kind.
What is a sponge cake?
A sponge cake is a simple cake made with flour, sugar, eggs and butter as the main ingredients. A good sponge cake has a soft uniform crumb and is sturdy enough for slicing and layering.
Sponge cakes used to rely on whisked eggs to rise before the advent of raising agents such as baking powder and soda.
And even now most recipes require you to cream the butter and sugar for several minutes before adding any other ingredients. Not so for this sponge cake – I swear to you it is SO EASY to make!
Sponge Cake Ingredients
You just need a few ingredients for this cake and a basic electric hand mixer or a stand mixer.
- Flour – plain flour / all purpose flour. If you can find fine sponge flour then use that. If you prefer to bake with self raising flour, you can use that and simply leave out the baking powder.
- Cornflour (= cornstarch) – adding a little cornstarch helps create the perfect texture we are after in a sponge cake. You can make this cake without it, simply replacing with flour.
- Baking powder – this will help your sponge cake to rise. Make sure your baking powder is fresh.
- Sugar – I use caster sugar in sponge cake recipes. In the US you can find caster sugar as superfine sugar, baker’s sugar or castor sugar. Caster sugar has smaller crystals than granulated making it easier to bake with.
- Softened unsalted butter or Stork baking spread. The butter needs to be soft enough for your finger to leave an indentation in it easily. Stork can be used straight from the fridge.
- Large eggs (room temperature)
- Milk – I used skimmed milk but any type can be used
- Lemon juice – although it is not essential I find that lemon juice helps the cake to rise. You can’t taste it in the sponge and if you would rather not use it then replace it with milk.
- Vanilla bean paste or extract is the usual flavoring for sponge cake.
HOW TO MAKE SPONGE CAKE
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°). Mist the tin(s) with cake release and line with baking paper. Sift all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cornflour) into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add all the remaining ingredients (butter, eggs, milk, lemon juice, vanilla) and beat together until the batter is completely smooth. You might have to use a spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl halfway through.
Spoon the batter into a deep 8 inch cake tin (or you can divide between two shallow 8 inch cake tins). Level and bake for 40-45 minutes for a deep cake using a single cake tin or 22-25 minutes if you have divided the batter into two cake tins.
The cakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cakes are golden, evenly risen and feel firm to the touch. Leave the cakes in the tin for 5-10 minutes then run a thin knife blade around the edge of the cake tin and gently invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool.
If you are splitting the cake in half then leave it to cool completely, overnight if possible, before using a cake leveler to slice it in half horizontally using a sawing motion.
The sponge cake can be used to make a layer cake and goes well with a variety of fillings and frostings. It is especially good as a Victoria Sponge with cream filling and perfect for my Fresh Berry Cake pictured below!
TIPS FOR THE PERFECT SPONGE CAKE
- Baking your sponge cake at a slightly lower temperature ensures it rises evenly and doesn’t dome.
- Don’t rely on the cooking time – use visual cues and a toothpick test to check your cake is done. Oven temperatures can vary so get to know your oven!
- This sponge cake would benefit from a simple syrup brushed on the layers before assembling as a layer cake. This helps keeps the layers moist and adds flavor. You can use vanilla syrup for a vanilla sponge or flavor your syrup with anything you like. For a tropical flavor use my Passion Fruit Syrup. You can also brush the layers with a liqueur, coffee, tea etc.
- Ideally allow the cake 6-8 hours to cool down if you are slicing it in half – the texture will be less crumbly if the cake rests.
- Replace the vanilla with almond extract or any flavoring you like. Adding citrus zest is another great way to adapt your sponge cake.
HOW TO SLICE A SPONGE CAKE
The easiest way to slice a deep sponge cake in half is to use a cake leveler. Place your cake on a flat surface and position the leveler on the side of the cake at a 90° angle. Use one hand on top of the cake and the other to guide the leveler across the middle in a sawing motion until you have split the cake in half.
I always use digital scales for my baking. It is more accurate than using cups and if you are an avid baker I would very highly recommend you get your own scales. I use mine daily!
If you are using cups to measure your dry ingredients then fluff up the flour first by stirring it then use a spoon to add it to your measuring cup. Overfill the cup then level using a knife or similar. Using the measuring cup to scoop the flour will probably result in you using more flour than the recipe requires.
Always use measuring spoons not table spoons to spoon baking powder or any added extracts etc. Make sure you level the ingredients before adding to your mixing bowl.
YOU WILL ALSO LOVE
Equipment & Tools
For the Cake
- 250 g (2 cups) flour plain / all purpose
- 250 g ( 1 ¼ cup) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 level tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) sub with flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 115 g (½ cup) margarine such as Stork or use softened butter
- 2 large eggs
- 120 ml (½ cup) milk semi skimmed or skimmed ideally
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or sub with more milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Preheat the oven to at 160°C (320°F) while you prepare the batter. Mist an 8 inch deep cake pan with cake release and line the bottom with baking paper. Alternatively you can use two shallow 8 inch cake tins (if you would rather not slice the cake in half).
- Sift the flour, sugar, cornflour and baking powder into a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
- Add the butter, eggs, milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat together using an electric hand mixer or your stand mixer, using a spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Mix until the batter is smooth, about a minute.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and level. Bake 45 minutes if baking a single sponge cake or 22-25 minutes if you have divided the batter into two cake tins.
- Check for doneness – insert a skewer or toothpick in the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If the skewer comes out wet or with moist crumbs continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Cool for 5 minutes in the pan then invert onto a cooling rack. Allow the cakes to cool down completely before using.
- Use a cake leveler to slice the cake in half horizontally if you have baked a single deep sponge. Check out the notes for more recipe tips!
- If your are using self raising flour then leave out the baking powder.
- Don’t overfill the cake pan – about half full is right.
- Brush the cake layers with simple syrup to add moisture. To make simple syrup combine equal amounts of water and sugar in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves (do not allow it to boil).
- Flavor your simple syrup with vanilla or any other extracts. Alternatively use coffee, tea or liqueur to brush on the cake layers, depending on what you are using as a frosting!