Spongecakes you’ll make again and again – The Denver Post

By Claire Saffitz, The New York Times

Spongecake doesn’t typically fall high on people’s list of favorite desserts. Its name doesn’t stir the heart, and so often it’s dry and tasteless. But, when properly made, spongecake is tender and bouncy with a cloudlike crumb that deftly soaks up the flavors of whatever it’s paired with, like whipped cream, coffee or fruit.

With so few functional ingredients (eggs, fat, sugar, flour), spongecake literally rises and falls on its proportions. Change one thing, and the balance may be disturbed. It took dozens of eggs and double-digits attempts, but this recipe strikes the ideal balance between structure and tenderness. It’s a hybrid of both chiffon and génoise cakes, but has the most in common with the oil-based spongecakes frequently found in Asian bakeries.

Just as the proportion of ingredients is crucial, so is the way they’re combined. This recipe streamlines the process as much as possible, requiring just a couple of bowls and a hand mixer. (Not required: Sifting, a double boiler or cooking a sugar syrup.)

Below are some of the core concepts and techniques for a successful spongecake. And though the process is sensitive, the recipe is sound — even easy. The sponge doesn’t need a syrup or flavoring to be palatable, though it would feel right at home in trifles, layer cakes, roulades and tres leches. Think of it simply as the ideal base for all of your summer stone fruit and berry desserts.

Say No to Nonstick

Nonstick bakeware seems to offer added convenience compared with regular bakeware. But this isn’t really the case. The dark synthetic coating that makes bakeware nonstick absorbs more heat and often overcooks the sides and bottom before the center is fully baked. (That’s why most bakers prefer lighter-colored bakeware made from anodized aluminum.) Nonstick bakeware is especially ineffective for egg foam-based cakes, like sponge and angel food, because they can’t cling to the sides of the pan as they bake, preventing them from rising properly and causing them to collapse immediately upon cooling. This is also why you don’t want to grease the pan, since the cake needs to be able to grip the sides as it rises.

Oil Makes a Supple Sponge

Like chiffon cake, this spongecake calls for oil as the fat. Butter is solid at room temperature, so a butter-based cake firms up when it’s chilled. A sponge made with oil, however, stays flexible at any temperature and resists drying, so you can store it in the refrigerator for several days and it will maintain a supple texture. Olive oil or any neutral oil will work here.

There’s No Substitute for Cake Flour

Spongecake batter is filled with tiny air bubbles from whipped egg whites and yolks. As the cake bakes, these air bubbles heat up and expand, lifting the cake to a light, spongy texture. At the same time, a critical mass of flour must be present to produce gluten (which happens when two proteins in flour interact with water), because gluten creates the internal scaffolding of a cake. Cake flour is the right flour for the job. It’s lower in protein than all-purpose flour, meaning it produces a relatively weak gluten matrix (and therefore a tender cake), but it’s still enough to support the airy crumb.

Use a Hand Mixer

Johnny Miller, The New York Times

Ingredients are mixed for a sponge cake in New York, May 20, 2021. Sponge cake doesn’t typically fall high on people’s list of favorite desserts — but, when properly made, sponge cake is tender and bouncy with a cloudlike crumb that deftly soaks up the flavors of whatever it’s paired with, like whipped cream, coffee or fruit. Food styled by Laurie Ellen Pellicano.