This sponge cake recipe is simple and versatile. The original recipe uses air trapped in the batter to rise: to get a higher (but often also drier) cake, use self-raising flour instead of standard white flour. See the bottom of the recipe for a number of variations on this delicious cake theme.
If made with wholemeal flour:
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade.
- Melt 50 g butter in the saucepan but make sure that it doesn’t brown or burn.
- Grease the cake tin with the spare butter and a piece of greaseproof paper or kitchen towel.
- Crack the eggs into the bowl.
- Measure out the sugar and add to the eggs.
- Whisk on high until very light in colour and fluffy (this can take between five and fifteen minutes depending on the speed of the whisk and your patience).
- Add the flour and melted butter to the egg and sugar mixture and fold in gently using the spatula. It is important not to lose too much air at this point. (You can also use the whisk on a low speed but this often results in a flatter cake.)
- Pour batter into cake tin.
- Leave in oven for 30 – 45 minutes.
- Test the cake: stick a skewer or toothpick into the centre of the cake and pull out. The test stick should be just clean, no batter should stick to it. If necessary, leave in oven for a little longer. The finished cake should be golden in colour and have a sweet, crispy crust.
- Remove from oven and leave to cool before removing from tin.
- Make the base for a birthday cake by using self-raising flour instead of plain flour. Let cool slowly and then cut into two or three tiers.
- Swap 100 mml flour for the same quantity of cocoa to make a rich chocolate cake.
- Swap 100 mml flour for the same quantity of ground almonds and add 100 gs of fresh raspberries to the batter to make a dense but moist almond and raspberry cake.
- Brown the butter and use wholemeal flour for a nutty and slightly more virtuous cake.
- Swap half of the flour for wholemeal flour and put the rings of a 400 g tin of pinapple, sprinkled with dark muscavado sugar, at the bottom of the cake tin before pouring the batter to make a pineapple upside-down cake.
- Thinly slice apples and layer with sugar and cinnamon at the bottom of the cake tin before pouring the batter to make an apple upside-down cake.
- Double the recipe, swap a third of the flour for cocoa, double the butter, add a cup of roughly chopped nuts and bake in a large, flat-bottomed roasting tin. When cool, cut into chocolate brownies.