Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe

BEST VANILLA SPONGE CAKE RECIPE

FOREWARD:

Many have had trouble with this recipe.  

Knowing this,  I have re-filmed the instructions 3 separate times over the last 2 years and then I even modified the recipe to accommodate all of those trouble spots.   But I am still getting messages from folks with still more problems!

It is so difficult for me to say, “Ah ha! It’s because you did THIS or THAT” Or better yet it’s because you DID NOT do this or that!

But since I am not in your kitchen, and I do not see your oven set up, and I cannot know how you are mixing this recipe I just cannot say what the  problem areas are.  I thought I covered it by explaining it ad nausea, but apparently I did not.

All I can say guys is this: “If you mix it EXACTLY the way I show you, using EXACTLY the same ingredients that I do and you WEIGH your ingredients, you should not have any trouble. This cake comes out lovely for me each and every time.  I am sorry to those who have had bad results.  But on another note, there have been hundreds of you who have had GREAT results!  So I know it is not a problem with the recipe.

Proceed with Caution!  This is NOT A BEGINNER RECIPE

Vanilla Sponge Cake
**Read all the way to the end for Marble Cake variation
yield 2 – 8″ layers, or 24 standard size cupcakes- lightly spray the inside of the cupcake paper with pan grease before pouring in the batter

Click here for more info on Baking Pan Sizes

I always recommend using parchment paper to line the bottom of any cake pans in addition to the pan grease. This will ensure clean release each and everytime.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Large Eggs at room temperature 200g (4)
Granulated or Castor Sugar 400g (2 cups)
Whole Milk 8 fl oz (1 cup or 237ml)
Unsalted Butter 112g (8 Tablespoons)
Vanilla Extract  1 Tablespoon
All Purpose Flour 260g (2 cups) (You may sub in cake flour here at 250g)
Baking Powder 10g (2 teaspoon)
Salt 2g (1/4 teaspoon)

Mix Method:

In the bowl of your Kitchen Aid mixer whip the room temperature eggs on high speed with the whip attachment until foamy, then gradually start adding in your sugar very slowly.

The eggs will take about 5 – 7 minutes to reach the ribbon stage, so in the meantime you can heat your milk and butter together in the microwave or on the stove top  and reserve to keep warm- you will want to add this to the mixture as described in the liaison while it is still warm/hot.

Also have your flour and baking powder and salt sifted together to aerate and lighten.

The ribbon stage is a stage where the egg/sugar mixture is very light in color, very thick and when lift your whip attachment and the batter runs back into the bowl it makes a ribbon effect before disappearing back into the mixture. You can also do a “figure 8″ pattern with the mixture and if it stays visible for a few seconds before disappearing you know you have achieved ribbon stage.

At this point add in all of the dry ingredients at once with the mixer OFF first  and then on low speed mix in the dry mixture.  You can gradually go up to a higher speed to make sure it is all incorporated evenly.

Next you will prepare a liaison with the hot milk and melted butter mixture. A liaison is a technique in which rather than dumping the liquids straight into the main batter causing deflating of this delicate foam we took such care to achieve;  you will take out about 2 cups of the cake batter into a separate mixing bowl, and with a hand whisk add the hot liquids to THAT 2 cups of batter.  Whisk it all together and then proceed to add this liaison to the orginal cake batter in the Kitchen Aid bowl.

Add the vanilla extract last and pour into prepared pans.
**for those wanting to make a marble cake divide the batter in half and add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to one half, then swirl the batters together in each pan before baking.
Bake this cake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 F to continue baking UNTIL IT’S DONE !

**Some of you have trouble with your cupcakes RISING!  Start with 375 F temperature and once they JUMP (about 15 minutes), turn down to 325 F and bake the rest of the way.

The cake is done when you gently press the center and it springs back immediately.

Please Read WHAT IS CAKE to understand the different types of cakes recipes and how each one is different from the next.
Also, this cake recipe is a foaming egg sponge, so it is naturally going to be a DRY  cake due to very low amounts of fat in the recipe.
It lends itself nicely to having a Simple Syrup brushed on the layers to add moisture


A Note on Doubling this recipe:
Most recipes are no problem to simply double or triple the ingredients amount and proceed as the recipe states to mix.
However with a recipe such as this one, that requires the eggs reach a certain volume, you may have trouble to double and especially triple the quantities here, because you are severely limiting the amount of room for the eggs to gain volume.
If you have a 7qt Kitchen Aid bowl, you can double the recipes, but I will not advise to triple unless you have a commercial 12Qt or 20Qt Bowl

**Some people have commented that they get a bit of a “sugar crust” on top of their finished baked cake. It is possible that the sugar you are using is of a coarser grain, so it is not dissolving into the mixture as it should. You can try switching to Caster Sugar or SuperFine here in the USA (which is very fine grain) or even taking your regular grain sugar and grinding it down in a coffee grinder or food processor.
Another cause of this slight crust may be a TOO HOT oven. Since so many home ovens are different, and I use a convection oven at the bakery (which tends to run about 25 degrees F above home ovens) you may want to set your oven temp on a lower setting if you think your oven may be the culprit, to see if that helps.

Store this cake wrapped well and freeze layers until ready to assemble your cake.  Otherwise use immediately to build a cake!  But be sure to store the finished cake according to the fillings and icings you choose.

 

Comments

  1. Veli Selimov says

    Hello Gretchen
    I am pastry enthusiast and I really love your channel! I haven’t try any of your recipes, but I have a question based on my previous experience. So the question is how much the size of the baking pan does matter, because I want to make bigger cakes at one time, like 12X18 inches pan? I have experienced that for some of my cakes works well an for some of them doesn’t. I know that is a silly question, but I would love to hear your opinion.

    • Gretchen Price says

      Hi Thank you for the support!
      You can typically double or triple any recipe to accommodate your pan sizes.
      I do not have any formula but I do have this post CLICK HERE ALTHOUGH I FOUND IT WAS MORE CONFUSING TO PEOPLE RATHER THAN HELPFUL- SEE HOW IT READS FOR YOU

  2. Les says

    Hi Gretchen,

    What are your thoughts about reducing the amount of sugar a recipe calls for by half if not more – ie. using no more than 1/2 to 2/3 cup of sugar for cake recipes. My family does NOT like sweet cakes. Will this impact how the cake will bake – texture and rising?

    Thanks,
    Leslie

    • Gretchen Price says

      Sometimes it is OK to do so, but what you must understand is that baking recipes are nothing less than formulas. Scientific ones at that. The ingredients are brought together in certain quantities and if you change those quantities, you are throwing off the balance.
      Reducing the sugar in certain recipes can leave you with undesirable results,such as an oily cake, or one that is not fluffy and light, etc etc…..It is wise to follow the recipes as stated, but if you wish, you can always do some experimenting to see how far you can push the envelope

  3. syima says

    Hi Gretchen

    how to melt the butter and the milk?add on both in a cup and place it in microwave is it?and can i use a full cream milk for the ingredients?

    • Gretchen Price says

      yes I do it together in the microwave but you can do it on the stove top if you prefer
      You can use the full cream, but I find this recipe does not need more fat than it already has

  4. Nancy says

    I made these into cupcakes and filled with homemade marshmallow fluff. (to remind us of twinkles!) Since the filling is so sweet, I cut the sugar down to 1 cup and they came out delicious. Superb recipe!

  5. Shasha says

    Hello Gretchen Price

    Thank you for this amazing recipe i make it and it came out great. I am very new to baking and i really wanna make this again. However i am using a 10″x 15″ x 3″ rectangle square pan. I would really like to know how much to double this recipe

  6. Danya Haynes says

    I followed the instructions to the t. My cake tastes really good, however, it didn’t rise much. I used 2 8×2″ cake pans and only got about an inch thick on my cakes. Any thoughts of what I might have done wrong.

  7. Vanessa says

    I tried this recipe and it came out perfectly. It was the first time I’ve made this type of cake. I halved the ingredients and followed the directions, making sure I paid attention to the baking. I pulled it out of the oven when a tooth pick came out clean in the center. I’ll definitely make this again. Also did not find it too sweet and it was moist and delicious.

  8. Ben says

    My question is: one poster wondered why her cake was more dense on the bottom than toward the top and Cramer answered her that she should not have reduced the sugar by a half cup, thus altering the chemistry. You answered another poster who wondered if she could reduce the sugar to reduce sweetness and you answered her that it would be fine. Would you have a comprehensive answer to this question? Thank you so much.

    • Gretchen Price says

      the answer is, that you cannot just take things out of a recipe and expect the same result.

      So Yes sure – you can do anything you want to try in a recipe -Change the flour, less sugar, different sugar choice, oil instead of butter, etc etc….will it be the same cake….no……but when people ask me these questions- I automatically know it is not MY cake they want anyway- they want to change it to make it THEIR cake, so I answer yes- YOU CAN do it, But NOT without a different result.
      Cramer answers with a lengthier reasoning and gives the projected outcome (which I agree with) but I cannot always answer at such length since I am answering hundreds upon hundreds of questions a day here.
      I also believe in Trial and Error as the best teacher, and if I simply say yes or no, the viewer becomes a ROBOT, not a pastry chef.

      SO my quick answer is often- Yes sure- go ahead.
      You can see if it works to your liking or not.

      I always always stress in all my recipes that you cannot change a recipe without expecting a changed result. Sometimes it is best for folks to SEE that result for themselves rather than take my word for it.

      Will the cake still come out OK? Yes, but it is not going to come out as I intended it.

  9. Winee says

    Tried this recipe today. I followed the instructions word to word and the cake turned out fabulous!! I expected it to be very dry based on the reviews but it isn’t. My family will happily eat it just as it is. The only thing is – I wanted lemon flavor and I used 1tblsp lemon juice(to substitute vanilla) and zest of one lemon but there is almost no lemon flavor to the cake, just a very slight hint. Either this recipe needs more juice to substitute vanilla extract or the lemons I used weren’t so potent anyway. However the cake is still yummy.

    • says

      Just a heads up – this time of year (your post being November 1st)… Im not sure where you reside but.. .if you live in an area of the USA like I do – Northeast where produce is being shipped from other states and other countries, the quality will definitely be compromised with lemons. You figure, the lemons are at their peak flavor at the time of picking.

      The number of hands and equipment that lemons get handled by, filling the crates, filling the trucks, transporting to their food distributor companies, then shipped to local grocery stores, you gotta figure it has been at least 3-5 days for domestic travelling/processing. At that point, you may not be getting the absolute freshest product at all.

      Consider experimenting on your own to see just how much lemon juice you would need for your cake to have that lemony flavor that you are looking for. This will definitely be up to the person who is baking it….

      I have seen some folks who will make a lemon-simple syrup to lightly coat their cake layers so they get that lemony flavor smacking them!

  10. rabiya says

    Hey gretchen the cake turned out good but I dont know why my cake comes out uneven after baking I am a beginner actually the cake rose more from one side what is the fault plzz reply thanku

    • says

      Your oven may not be leveled enough at all if your cake came out uneven.

      To test this, in your oven, place a sheet pan or round cake pan. Place a marble in it and see if your marble moves. If it does move, then check the rack – see if there is any debris causing it to be off. Also – make sure the rack is fully in place as well.

      Another issue that many bakers run into is not spreading the batter evenly in the pan itself.

  11. Charmaine Ang says

    hi Gretchen. I have successfully bake the cake. It is yummy! I notice the bottom of the cake is bit dense compare to the middle and top portion. Should I bake it longer? Do you have any idea what is the cause? I reduce the amount of sugar by half cup. Thanks!

    • says

      You have actually already answered your own question….

      Your comment of “I reduce the amount of sugar by half cup”

      When you reduce one ingredient in a recipe that has multiple other ingredients, you are therefore compromising the recipe’s structure.

      Baking requires careful ratios and balancing of ingredients because this is dealing with Chemistry applications.

      Sugar when melted is regarded as a liquid. Gretchen has made that known in a couple of her videos….

      By taking out moisture, you have thus left your batter thicker and more dense.

  12. Maryann Raymond says

    Hi Gretchen,
    I would love you to teach how to make an old fashioned Italian wedding rum cake. Can’t get a good one anywhere. Almost impossible to find. The last one I found was mediocre and had no taste of rum. I know it requires a sponge cake to hold the rum.
    Usually has sliced almonds covering the sides. If anyone could make a dynamite one, I know that would be you. Your recipes are the ABSOLUTE best. Thank you so much for teaching us so well that we can actually make these recipes with great success.

  13. Jeanne says

    Hi Gretchen! Got a question. Can I add mango puree and lemon juice instead of milk to make mango sponge cake with this recipe? Thanks in advance!

  14. maureen says

    Hi Gretchen,

    This is one of the best cakes I’ve made. However, i find it too sweet though. Will it affect the texture if I reduce the amount of sugar used?

  15. lily baker says

    Hi Gretchen. I’ve had success and problems with this recipe and I’m not sure why.on all occasions I whipped the eggs until it reached ribbon stage but I think my problem area is the addition part of the butter and milk.after the cake bakes it looks fine but when I trim the top there’s a gummy texture inside,not a sticky or under baked texture more like a gummy congealed mass.i’ve used both cake flour and all purpose flour.Could this be from to much liquid in the batter? Also can
    I replace the butter with oil in this recipe?

  16. Zarifah says

    I LOVE HOW THIS CAKE TURNED OUT TO BE. IT WAS AMAZING!! SO SOFT, SPONGE-Y AND MOIST. THANKS GRETCHEN!!!! But I’ve a question, can this cake be used to build a 2-4 layer e.g. birthday cakes???

  17. Charmaine Ang says

    Hi! Sorry to ask a silly question. Can I use non-stick cake tin for this sponge cake?
    If I wanna bake a layer of 10″ square cake, should I adjust the recipe to 1 1/2X?
    Thanks!

    • Gretchen Price says

      YOu should use a pan grease even with non stick just to be sure a light spray would be fine
      yes to 1 1/2X recipe

  18. ellepal says

    First of all, I thank you graciously for your post and video. I experimented with many vanilla cake recipe s and this was my favorite. I double the vanilla and add a heaping 1/8th cup of sour cream. The sour cream gives this cake a much moister and softer texture. My little bakeshop has been busy because of this recipe. It doctors well too
    I add 1/4 cup keylime juice and zest and 3/4 cup milk to make a keylime flavor. S as same for lemon. You can make this whatever flavor. I love swirling cinnamon sugar into it. So good! Customers are happy!

  19. ELEANOR J COLLINS says

    I made cupcakes with your sponge cake recipe and the turned out great today. I was wondering though, in your recipe you say to spray the cupcake liners with your pan grease, but how would your spray that as it is pretty thick? Or, should I just bake them in the greased muffin pans? I love all your recipes that I’ve tried so far and all of your insider tips.

  20. brittney says

    Hello Gretchen!! Hope all is well.

    I have some questions about the sponge cake. When making the sponge recipe into cupcakes would you still recommend using simple syrup? Also, can we use buttercream after using simple syrup? Another question is, to check if the cake/ cupcakes are done may the clean toothpick optionk up would you still recommend using simple syrup? Also, can we use buttercream after using simple syrup? Another question is, to check if the cake/ cupcakes are done may the clean toothpick option? Last question, you mention the range of times when to drop the temperature but can you give a range of time after doing that for when the cakes/ cupcakes will be done?

    thank you so much!!! enjoy your day :)

    • Gretchen Price says

      Yes to simple syrup of you want to moisten the cupcakes a bit ( as sponges tend to be more dry by nature) I will recommend this recipe CLICK HERE though for the best cupcakes recipe then you do not need to worry about any of this stuff

      Of course to buttercream after simple syrup, I am curious as to why not?

  21. Bahram says

    Hi Gretchen,
    I watch your video’s on youtube and made some of youre recipe at home. You are wonderfull teacher.Your video’s are very usefull I personally learning many technics from you.I am eager to see more video’s from you about baking.

    Greeting from The Netherlands

  22. says

    THIS! This here is one bomb cake. Buttery, soft…moist. Able to hold any filling or frosting down. This is my go to yellow cake with my Hershey Frosting!

    It is my 3rd time making. First time although successful–it was my 2nd & 3rd attempts where my technique you taught/teach is perfected.

    Achieving “ribbon stage” of yolk and sugar mixture…& the ‘liason’ technique + 1/4 cup more patience. Boom!!! Don’t know where people are getting ‘dry’ as this cake in no where near dry. You will never need a box yellow again. And Gretchen, yes…this cake freezes beautifully. I thank you and God Bless your busy brain.

  23. Julie says

    Hello Gretchen,
    Thank you so much for sharing your baking wisdom with the world. I have baked this recipie many times over and have always had complements. I have recently converted it as a chocolate gluten free recipie and worked out wonderfully. Also tried your decadent gluten free chocolate cake and turned out awesome, especially with some fresh fruit and whipped cream. Can’t wait to try some recipies of the pumpkin collection.

  24. Barbara says

    Hi Gretchen
    yesterday I tried you chocolate cake receipe and was amazed at how good I did it was perfect so today i decided to do the vanilla cake I will keep you informed I am so thankful you are on here Love all your receipes I will never do another buttercream but yours I Love it…………Barbara

  25. caroline says

    Hi Gretchen! Would you recommend this recipe or the golden butter cake recipe for a fudge or buttercream layer cake? Thank you!!

    • Gretchen Price says

      I am partial to the Butter Cake…. and stay tuned because I just tested another YELLOW CAKE recipe with SUCCESS! and you guys are going to LOVE it!
      oct 8th Fall season premiere!

  26. denise says

    Hi Gretchen –

    Is there an easy conversion to make this recipe Lemon Cake, one that goes easily between cake and cupcakes – this cake is so light and yummy! Chiffon cakes are so much work!!!

  27. MJ says

    I followed the recipe exactly using cake flour.
    It turned out perfectly and was delicious.
    I filled the center with strawberry jam, whipped cream & strawberry slices.
    I topped it with homemade vanilla butter cream frosting and fresh fruit:
    strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries & peach slices, arranged as if it were a French tart.
    Candles and voila!

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