"After baking countless cakes over the past 11 years for our pages, I've come back around to appreciating the versatility of a sponge cake,” says Jennifer Aaronson, editorial director of food and entertaining. See the test kitchen’s step-by-step guide to making sponge cake and discover three ways to use this flexible favorite.
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pans
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
- 9 large eggs, room temperature, separated
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of coarse salt
- Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans or two 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheets. Line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment and flour pans, tapping out excess flour. Whisk together egg yolks and 1 cup granulated sugar in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and thick enough to form a ribbon that dissolves onto itself, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt; transfer to a large bowl.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold one third of egg whites into yolks, then gently fold in remaining whites. Sift flour over top and gently start to fold in. When nearly all is folded in, pour melted butter down side of bowl and fold just until incorporated and smooth.
Divide batter among pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes for rounds, or 15 minutes for sheets, rotating and switching racks halfway through. If baking in round pans, immediately invert cake and remove parchment, then reinvert and cool right side up. If using baking sheets and making a rolled cake, immediately invert cake onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioner's sugar. Dust top of cake with confectioner's sugar and roll up in towel. Let cool completely, about 1 hour, before unrolling and spreading with filling.