Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sponge Cake ~ The All in Method

Sponge Cakes have ingredients that is so basic yet it is not easy to make at all. It is believed to be the first unleavened item made and usually it is the first cake for any beginning bakers like horse stands are to Chinese kungfu.

To qualify as a good sponge cake, it needs to very soft, moist yet light, a little like cotton candy. The whole cake will have very even airholes and hence making it airy fluffy and the texture fine. It looks plain yet it is flavourful and not many people can refuse a good sponge.

Sponges can be eaten as it is, sometimes added with other flavours like chocolate, pandan etc. Sponge cakes are also commonlt used as bases for many cakes thus creating a whole new range of delightful treats ~ swiss rolls, ladyfingers, madelines, cupcakes, lamingtons; bases for cream cakes, cheese cakes, mousse cakes and so forth. Chiffon in fact is derived from sponge cakes.

There are quite a few types sponge making methods. All methods need great care in incorporating air into the batter and hence lifting the cake. The method chosen will determine the mainly the texture of the end results.

First and foremost, there is the chiffon method. With this method, you need separate the egg yolks with the whites . Beat egg whites with sugar till glossy. Beat egg yolks and add them to white mixture. Then gently fold in the dry ingredients and finally the fats like melted butter or corn oil. This type of sponge is usually soft and foamy, almost like you could feel the water coming out of the cake.

Then there is the Victorian Sponge method, which is the most traditional method. This will require you to beat the eggs till thick. Then adding the sugar and continue whisking to glossy and pale. Finally gently fold in the dry ingredients, milk and melted butter. This method will tend to produce sponges that is soft but somehow coarser in texture (larger airholes).

Victorian method had also been modified slightly with heating of the eggs to 40 deg celcius, then whisking it with sugar to the pale and thick (will take approximately 4- 5 min or so). Then the dry ingredients are added followed by milk and melted butter or corn oil. This sponge tend to be finer in its texture and is soft and light. It is however, lacking of the fluff.

And there is also the modern modification which is an easy all-in method. This method requires you to whisk all ingredients except melted butter together at high speed. This method produces very soft, light and fluffy sponges with fine airholes. However, it has a substance called ovalette added. Ovalette also know as cake emulsifier or sponge stabilisers are commonly added to butter and sponge cakes to create volume, fluff and smoothness. It is nearly impossible to to whisk without it unless maybe adding additional egg whites to the recipes to create the volume. I had experiment whisking with and without ovalette. The wonders of baking sciences!

Left: With ovalette, results was obtained within minutes. Right: Without. Whisking after 15 minutes.

Besides, the methods and recipes of making, the procedures in making sponges must also be done with care. It is a sensitive cake. Failed sponges are usually caused by two culprits the beating to incorporate air (over or under) and the motion of folding in dry ingredients or fats like melted butter (uneven mixing).

All in Method:
This is the most common method of sponge making.
4 no of big fresh eggs
1/4 tsp of cornstarch
115 gm of plain flour sifted
3/4 tsp of baking powder
115 gm of fine or icing sugar
50 gm of water
45 gm of melted butter
1/2 tbsp of ovalette or cake stabiliser
200 gm of sponge mix (no ovalette is used but sponge mixes would have cake emulsifier and most bakeries will use this and ovalette at the same time to create more volume)
200 gm of eggs
50 gm of water
45 gm of melted butter

1) Put all ingredients in the mixing bowls with the wet first, followed by the dry on top. Set aside melted butter to cool slightly.

2) Start mixing at low speed for 30 sec or so or until dry ingredients are slightly wet. Turn to high speed whisking at max. The mixing is only completed when deep whisking lines started to appear and when you stop machine, the batter will hardly drip from the lifted whisk. Usually 8-10 min depending on volume and your mixer.

3) Gently fold in melted butter. Use hand with the motion reverse S. Make sure that the incorporation is even. Uneven folding will cause lumps in the sponges or even worse a whole layer of hard cake at the bottom.

4) Pour into bottom greased and lined 8 inch cake tin. Spread mixture evenly and bake at 165 -170 deg cel without fan for 25-35 minutes. Test for doneness with skewer. If you press baked cake and a LOUD 'Sha sha' noise is produced, surface may not be entirely baked. Continue baking for another 3- 5 min. High heat may caused sponges to dry out and top cracked.

5) Turn out cake after at least 10 min after it comes out of the oven. Cool on cooling rack. Keep sponges in airtight containers if you are not using immediately. Otherwise, serve or use.


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

nee: thank u SO MUCH for this lesson!the pics help too, esp the diff bet using n not using ovalette. i agree tt even tho the steps r simple, a good sponge is not easy. i have made sponges using the separated eggs method for 18 yrs, n now have to learn the all-in far not very sucessful (soft but coarse texture) but with ur help, i'm sure my all-in sponges will get better. thanx again!!

Greg Wee said...

i will put up another recipe of putting eggs over double boiler to 40 deg and then whisk. This one i feel is so healthy ~without ovalette and use corn oil some more. But i dont think ovalette is that bad. the ones in the pic are with ovalette and they are really soft and fine. somehow i feel the pics makes them look coarse. actually to be honest i dont know so much either...sometimes just write only of what i think. so if you find anything wrong. do let me know cause you are such an experienced and good cook and baker.

Jo said...

hi! this is a great post on sponge cakes. my sponge cake always fails and i have no idea why but now i know! =)

i will add you to my must visit food blog list.

Greg Wee said...

NEE: Thanks for visiting Jo. i really hope this write up will work. just let me know you need help.

thanks for adding us to your list. i just visited. like your blog too. will link up as well. but still trying to move my way around your blog. But we shall keep in touch.

Greg Wee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo said...

=) as of now I don't have the time to whip up a cake yet, but when I do I will follow your instructions closely to see what it yields.

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

flo said...

Hi folks! I just want to thank you for your 'all in one sponge cake' recipe.
I'd also love to thank you for 'forcing' me to blog so that I could thank you. :D
You can see a photo of the delicious Orange Sponge CupCakes I adapted from your recipe on my first blog.

Jing said...

Hi there... I tried to bake a sponge cake and have used cake emulsifier in the process. However, the cake is not soft and fluffy. Wondering what could be the cause of this? :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg
Your cake really looks yummy. I have a question - how do you know how much emulsifier to add to the recipe? Is there a ratio for emulsifier to egg or is it to flour?

Many thanks
- lillian

NEE said...

Hi lilian, think greg prob knows nothing about cakes besides eating them.

normally, for 5 eggs about 250gm (8-9 inch) we just use about 3/4 to 1 tbsp (proper measure spoon), it helps the mixture to fluff. if too much the cake will turn out coarse cause too much airholes.

if 300gm of eggs, you still can stick to 1tbsp, if after 3-4 min of beating and still watery, can add a little bit more. but check for ovalette freshness. open emulsifier does not keep more than 2-3 weeks.

350 to 400gm 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 tbsp. and so forth

Anonymous said...

Nice dispatch and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you for your information.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting such wonderful recipes and instructions. May I please ask, what is reverse S technique when incorporating butter? Thanks again, Quyen

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg and Nee,
What does '4no' fresh large eggs mean? How long will ovalett keep if opened and kept in the fridge? TIA.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just tried the all in one recipe, using gluten free flour in place of ordinary flour and omitting the cornflour ... it turned out great! Nice, soft texture and tastes like a real sponge cake (I was a bit afraid of it tasting "fake"). I'm so using this recipe from now on ... so fast and easy. Thanks for sharing!

Siu Cheng

Nee said...

Quyen so sorry for my late reply. As u prib know from the more recent posts, the blog has suffer since the cafe n baby came along. Ok reverse S, if u fold in d butter o oil w a spatula o ur hand, imagine writing d letter S in d opposite way. That is d motion to use. Ovalette in fridge prob can j
Keep up to a month if opened but anything after 3 weeks, u should prob expect not to work do always hv spare ones ready. It does not go bad, it just does not fluff d cake.

Nee said...

Quyen so sorry for my late reply. As u prib know from the more recent posts, the blog has suffer since the cafe n baby came along. Ok reverse S, if u fold in d butter o oil w a spatula o ur hand, imagine writing d letter S in d opposite way. That is d motion to use. Ovalette in fridge prob can j
Keep up to a month if opened but anything after 3 weeks, u should prob expect not to work do always hv spare ones ready. It does not go bad, it just does not fluff d cake.

Anonymous said...

Sorry ovalette comment is for Tia. Also large egg weighing 60 plus gm. Just remember mixture needs about 250 gm of full eggs. Plus o minus 10th is ok.

Nee said...

Sorry ovalette comment is for Tia. Also large egg weighing 60 plus gm. Just remember mixture needs about 250 gm of full eggs. Plus o minus 10th is ok.

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