Outside of the Breadbox and www.outsideofthebreadbox.com is in no way affiliated with, endorsed by, or sponsored by Outside the Breadbox, Inc., a Colorado corporation, or its federally-registered trademark, Outside the Breadbox®. If, however, you would like to try the best gluten-free baked goods in the world, visit www.outsidethebreadbox.com.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Recipe: Sponge Cake

Sponge Cake Rolled with Mint Buttercream Frosting

Recipe: Sponge Cake (Roulade)

The recipe for this Sponge Cake is just leading up to the nerdiest Cake ever... a Star Wars inspired Buche de Noel - or as I'm calling it, a Buche de Endor. A classic Sponge Cake filled with Mint Buttercream and topped with Chocolate Buttercream, could there be a better way to celebrate both Christmas and the new film? I doubt it, so stay posted for the subsequent recipes coming soon.

Almost all Cakes begin with three simple ingredients: Flour, Sugar and Eggs. What comes out of the oven is largely a function of how these ingredients have been prepared and combined (d'uh!). For Sponge Cakes (or "Biscuit"), which are characterized by a firm but well-aerated texture, it's a game of foam and fold.

Many of the first Cakes were leavened with yeast. But the Foam Method provides lift by trapping air in the batter. Eggs are whipped with Sugar and then gently folded with Flour. As the ingredients are folded together, extreme care is taken to not deflate the batter so that the final Cake is not dense.

Slight variations in how this simple list of ingredients is combined results in dramatically different final productsSome Sponge Cakes, like the Genoise, call for whipping the whole Egg together. Others, like Lady Fingers (Biscuit a la Cuilliere), whip the Egg Whites and Egg Yolks separately before they are combined with the Flour. Angel Food Cake is a unique example as the Egg Yolks are excluded entirely.

This particular Sponge Cake is formulated to be moist and pliable - perfect for a Swiss Roll or Roulade that is used to make a Buche de Noel. The desired texture is achieved by first whipping the Egg Whites with Sugar to make a French Meringue. The gently stirred but unwhipped Egg Yolks are then folded into the Meringue. Well-sifted Cake Flour is gently folded into the Egg mixture, and the process ends by folding in melted Butter - a somewhat unique addition that provides a moistness and richness not common to basic Sponge Cakes.

Baked Sheet of Sponge Cake
Executing a successful Sponge Cake is all about preparation. Because of the more delicate nature of the batter, there can be no road blocks between you and getting the Sponge Cake in the oven once you start mixing. 

Here is a mise-en-place checklist before you begin:

  • Pre-heat the oven: If you've been baking for any length of time, hopefully that's common sense. Nevertheless, it never hurts to mention.
  • Temper the Eggs: Cold Eggs do not whip up as easily when making a French Meringue. Remove the Eggs from the refrigerator about an hour before starting so that they reach room temperature by the time you are ready.
  • Sift the Flour: Many times, sifting Flour really isn't necessary. But when you are folding Flour into a delicate Egg Foam, it's important that the Flour have no clumps and is well aerated.
  • Melt and cool the Butter: The last step in mixing this batter is to fold in melted Butter. However, if the melted Butter is too hot, it could cook the Eggs. That would be bad.
  • Prepare the sheet tray: So you've mixed an amazing batter but... whoops! You don't have anywhere to put it. So you grab a sheet tray... line it with parchment paper or a silpat... spray it with non-stick spray. All the while, your batter is deflating. Quelle tragĂ©die!

With everything in place, begin by whipping the Egg Whites and Sugar to stiff peaks. This French Meringue really needs to be stable to retain the air through the subsequent ingredient addition. 

When folding ingredients into a batter, there is a general rule that heavy ingredients are folded into light ingredients, and dry ingredients are folded into wet ingredients. There are always exceptions, but that is how this recipe works. 

With a stable Meringue in hand, lighten the Egg Yolks. Also referred to as "sacrificing", lightening is a pre-folding technique by which some of the lighter ingredient (the Meringue) is mixed into the heavier ingredient (the Egg Yolks). When this is done, the heavier ingredient is easier to fold into the lighter ingredient and does not deflate the batter as much.

Add half of the lightened Egg Yolks to the Meringue and fold the mixture to combine the ingredients. As the ingredients combine, but while the batter still has visible streaks of lightened Egg Yolks, add the remaining lightened Egg Yolks and fold the mixture to combine the ingredients.

Next, fold the sifted Cake Flour into the Egg mixture. To prevent clumping, it is best to sift the Flour over the surface of the Egg mixture in two additions rather than dumping it all in one go. 

The last ingredient is the melted Butter. Because the Butter is very dense compared to the batter, begin by lightening the Butter with some of the batter. Then, fold the lightened Butter into the batter (say that tens times fast!)

Unbaked Sponge Cake Batter
The unbaked Sponge Cake batter is very delicate. Being careful not to deflate the batter, pour it out onto the prepared sheet tray. If you pour the batter out over a wide area rather than in one spot, it will be easier to spread evenly to fill the sheet tray.

Using an offset spatula, gently spread the batter to fill the sheet tray, being careful not to overwork and deflate the batter while also making sure that the batter is spread as evenly as possible, including up to the sides and corners of the sheet tray.

Baked Sponge Cake
The Sponge Cake bakes very quickly and can easily dry out or burn, so keep an eye on the oven.

Bake the Sponge Cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for approximately 12-15 minutes or until the Sponge Cake just begins to brown and springs back at the touch. Since a thin and delicate Sponge Cake such as this is more sensitive to uneven heat in an oven, rotate the sheet tray halfway through the bake time.

Once baked, immediately remove the Sponge Cake from the hot sheet tray and transfer it to a wire cooling rack. This is important to stop the baking process and to prevent the Sponge Cake from drying out.

If being used for a Swiss Roll or Roulade, it is best to use the Sponge Cake as soon as it is cool so that it will roll well. The longer the Sponge Cake is exposed to the air, the drier it will become and the more likely it will tear or crack when rolled.

The baked Sponge Cake can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for a month. A refrigerated or frozen Sponge Cake should be allowed to fully temper to room temperature while still wrapped in plastic before it is used. A Sponge Cake that has been refrigerated or frozen is more likely to tear or crack when rolled.

- The Recipe -

Sponge Cake:

Yield: 1 Half Sheet Tray (18" x13")

This basic recipe has been adapted from the curriculum for the Professional Pastry Arts Program at the International Culinary Center.

  • White Granulated Sugar: 150g (0.75 Cup)
  • Egg Whites: 150g (5x)

  • Cake Flour, sifted*: 150g (1.25 Cups)
  • Salt: Pinch

  • Egg Yolks: 90g (5x)

  • Butter, melted: 75g (5 Tbls)

* If you do not have Cake Flour, you can substitute with 130g of All Purpose Flour and 20g of Corn Starch.


1. Prepare all equipment and ingredients: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Line a half sheet tray (18" x 13") with parchment or a silpat and gently spray the sheet tray with non-stick spray. Separate the Eggs and allow them to temper to room temperature. Melt the Butter and set it aside to cool. Sift the Cake Flour.

Chef's Note: Proper mise-en-place is critical with this recipe.

2. Prepare a French Meringue to stiff peaks.

3. Lighten the Egg Yolks with some of the Meringue. Fold half of the lightened Egg Yolks into the Meringue. While the Egg mixture is still streaky, fold in the remaining lightened Egg Yolks.

4. While the Egg mixture is still streaky, fold in the sifted Cake Flour and Salt in two additions.

5. Lighten the melted Butter with some of the batter. Fold the lightened melted Butter into the batter.

6. Gently pour the Sponge Cake batter onto the prepared sheet tray and spread it into an even layer being careful not to deflate the batter.

7. Immediately place the sheet tray in the oven and bake the Sponge Cake for approximately 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheet tray half way through baking time. The baked Sponge Cake should just begin to brown and should spring back at the touch.

8. Immediately remove the baked Sponge Cake from the hot sheet tray and transfer it to a wire cooling rack.

Chef's Note: With a thin, delicate Cake such as this, it is important to remove it from the heat as soon as possible to prevent over-baking.

9. The Sponge Cake is best used for a Swiss Roll or Roulade as soon as it cools.

- The baked Sponge Cake can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for a month. A refrigerated or frozen Sponge Cake should be allowed to fully temper to room temperature while still wrapped in plastic before it is used. 
- A Sponge Cake that has been refrigerated or frozen is more likely to tear or crack when rolled.

Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
Stay connected with Outside of the Breadbox on Facebook, view on Instagram,
follow on Twitter @BreadChefMark. And sign up for the email list.

No comments:

Post a Comment