issue with a sponge cake recipe

Joined May 1, 2009
I used Bo Friberg's (from his professional pastry chef book) chocolate sponge cake recipe, but for some reason the cake came out dense and egg like.

The recipe did as for Cake Flour, which I did not have, so I used AP and added corn starch, I have done that with other similar recipes.

I beat the eggs and sugar and salt over a bain marie, to 110 as the recipe asked, than cooled it down. (I was using a hand mixer rather than a stand one, but the eggs rose and were fluffy and pale as they should be).

Everything went as it should have (i've done this recipe before, although used an Italian meringue method rather than the swiss one to beat the eggs), the batter seemed fine, but for some reason the cake did not rise and remained dense and almost eggy like.

The recipe says 400f for 15 min. I did half a recipe, and used a sponge roll silicone pan 11.2x8.8x1.6inches rather than a 10x2 inch round one requested in the recipe.

I added the recipe:

6 eggs

6 oz granulated sugar

2.5g salt

3 oz cake flour (used AP mixed with cornstarch, 1 cup AP - 2TBSP +2TBSP cornstarch)

2oz cornstarch

1 oz cocoa powder

2oz melted butter


1) melted butter and flour on the pan. (again I used a silicone sponge roll pan)

2) place the eggs, sugar, and salt in a mixer bowl. Heat over simmering water to about 110F, whipping continuously. Remove from the heat and whip at high speed until the mixture has cooled and is light and fluffy. -- I have done that and it looked fine! the way I know it is supposed to look like.

3) sift the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa powder together and fold into the batter by hand. Fold in the melted butter.

4) Bake immediately at 400F for app. 15 min. let cool before removing from the pan.

Everything was done as it should. I have done sponge cake before, so I know the way it should look. Not sure why it didn't came out the way it should have. I am wondering if the hand mixture is to blame, perhaps it is not strong enough to whip the eggs, although they looked fine!

I have added a picture of the cake below.

I am hoping you can help me figure this out!

Joined Jun 27, 2012
Originally Posted by gejufan  
1) melted butter and flour on the pan. (again I used a silicone sponge roll pan)

Not all cakes need a greased and floured pan.

Sponge is one of those cakes...all you need is a parchment sheet on the bottom.

Not so sure the silicone pan didn't add to the problem as well.

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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Looked at the picture again and think something more is off than just the pan.

Way too wet.

Are you sure you followed the recipe as written?

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Joined May 5, 2010
I agree flipflop. I have had this happen to me a few times.

I have made spongecake so many times.

I do not place the bowl over simmering water.

I do remove the eggs from the fridge about an hour or so before I start the recipe.

I simply place the eggs in the mixing bowl and turn it on high.

Yes I know the recipe says blah blah blah.....but years of commercial experience taught me otherwise.

I add the sugar slowly after about a salt though.

The trick has always been incorporating the sifted flour and melted butter at the end.

I use a French wire whip to "fold" the flour and butter in. I make sure all the flour has been incorporated and that no bubbles of flour remain un- mixed.

It would seem that while you may have tried to compensate for not having any cake flour, by using the cornstarch, it seems as though it was the cornstarch that may have caused your problem. Hard to tell with the pictures.


Joined Feb 16, 2017
A couple of thoughts...first a word of warning that I'm going to get a bit geeky here, but I hope it will help you bake a better sponge cake.

Sponge falls in the category of foam cakes. Foams get all their rise from eggs--no leavening. So cake flour, specifically bleached cake is key to successfully baking a foam cakes.

Bleaching flour isn't so much about color as it is about altering flour's characteristics. Chlorination lowers the temperature in which starch gelatinization occurs, while increasing the temperature in which protein denaturation occurs. Protein denaturation plays a major role in setting batter. The longer protein denaturation is delayed, the less moisture absorbency and slower batter sets. Slower batter setting allows better gas retention, which in turns gives more rise. The result is a light, airy cake with a fine crumb.

Regular AP flour has different starch gelatinization and protein denaturation temperatures even if it's bleached flour. The reason being is AP flour is usually a different variety (hard red winter wheat as opposed to soft white wheat); cake flour is milled differently from AP flour. So AP flour has higher moisture absorbency; the batter sets quickly, the gases are lost. The result is a dense, flat cake.

We think of the role of protein content in flour, but more often than not we forget about the starch. But they both play a critical role in baking.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you cannot "make" homemade cake flour. Adding cornstarch to all purpose flour does not change the temperature of starch gelatinization and protein denaturation. Worse, cornstarch sucks up moisture and binds--that's the opposite of what you want in baking a cake.

For best foam cake results, bleached cake flour is important.
Joined Dec 1, 2015
At the risk of looking picky, isn't this actually a genoise since the eggs are beaten whole with the sugar?

I can think of 2 ideas:

1.  You didn't mention if the eggs where beaten to the "ribbon" stage.

2.  I always remove a cup or so of the beaten eggs before the flour goes in and mix the butter with that first.  Then, with the last addition of flour almost gone, I fold in this lightened butter mixture.  Works for me.
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Joined Feb 16, 2017
At the risk of looking picky, isn't this actually a genoise since the eggs are beaten whole with the sugar?

I think the foam cake classification is so adulterated with variations on whole eggs, whites only, use of eggs with chemical leavenings, and even the addition of fats that there is no clear standard. Sponge cake is more of a catch-all for foam cakes in general. Genoise is a type sponge cake. Cookbook authors and even culinary school instructors will refer to it as a genoise sponge. the definition of genoise is more often than not stated as a sponge cake

Aside from genoise, the Italians have a cake that is frequently referred to as a sponge, but make with egg whites only. In America, we call that an angle food cake. The French have a versatile sponge cake called a biscuit. One version, like a genoise, uses whole eggs. But the French version differs in that the eggs are separated, and the whites beaten and folded in separately. Because it's sturdy and on the drier side, it's used with syrups and ganaches.

America's contribution to the foam cake genre is the chiffon. The chiffon differs from other foams in that leavening is used and oil is added to counter the dryness. The chiffon cake is a strange hybrid given the oil. Foam cakes normally contain no added fat since fat will deflate the eggs. Yet the chiffon cake has 1/2 cup of oil. But it also contains a lot more egg and chemical leavening.

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