Sunday, 11 March 2012


There are many factors which affect the final quality (Texture, Flavour, taste, tenderness, moistness and appearance) of a cake.  Some of them are the quality of the ingredients used, the temperature of the ingredients, the methods used for mixing the cake, time of mixing, altitudes, baking time and temperature, size of cake pan used and type of cake pan and so on.  

According to Gisslen (2005), there are basically two types of cake, namely, High Fat or Shortened Cakes and Low Fat or Foam Type Cakes.  

The main ingredients used to make shortened cakes are: fat, sugar, flour, raising agents (baking powder or  baking soda) and liquid (water, milk, buttermilk, orange juice, etc...).  There are different methods for preparing shortened cakes as summarised below.

Preparation techniques
Creaming method/Sugar-batter method/ Conventional method
  • The fat and sugar are creamed together until light and fluffy
  • The eggs are beaten in one by one or in a steady stream
  • The flour sifted with other dry ingredients (Cocoa, baking powder, baking soda or salt) is mixed in batches alternating with the liquid, if used, to form a clear smooth batter without any lumps. Care should be taken not to over-mix
A light cake with high volume is produced
Two-stage method (The liquid is added in two stages)
  • The flour, sugar and other dry ingredients (salt, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda) are sifted in a bowl
  • The fat, mainly shortening, and part of the liquid are mixed into the flour at low speed
  • The remaining liquid is combined with lightly beaten eggs and mixed gradually into the mixture

  • The fat is mixed into the sifted flour (including salt, baking powder and soda)
  • All other dry ingredients (cocoa and sugar) and part of the liquid are added
  • The remaining liquid is combined with lightly beaten eggs and mixed gradually into the mixture 

(The second method can also be called the pastry-blend method)
A moister, velvety and tender-crumbed cake, compared to other methods, is obtained
Flour-batter method
  • The fat is blended into the sifted flour (including salt, baking powder and soda) until light and smooth
  • The eggs and sugar are whipped together until thick and light
  • The flour-fat mixture and the sugar-egg mixture are combined and mixed until smooth
  • Liquid is finally mixed in little by little until smooth
A fine-textured cake is produced, but there may be some toughening due to the development of gluten
All-in-one method/Single-stage method/One-bowl method
  • All the sifted dry ingredients and the other ingredients are placed in mixing bowl and mixed into a homogeneous mixture at low speed for 1-3 minutes, followed by mixing at medium speed for 3-5 minutes, and finally again at low speed for 2 minutes, for a total mixing time of 8-10 minutes
A coarse cake is produced with limited keeping qualities
Muffin method (Two-bowl method)
  • The liquid ingredients, eggs and oil or melted fat are combined
  • The dry ingredients including the sugar are sifted together
  • The two mixtures are stirred together until blended sufficiently to develop the necessary gluten
A coarse cake is produced with limited keeping qualities

Egg is the main ingredient in a foam type cake.  The eggs incorporate air into the mixture and contribute to the cake structure.  According to Gisslen (2005), egg-foam cakes have a springy texture and are tougher than shortened cakes.  This makes them valuable for many kinds of desserts that require much handling to assemble.  Very little fat or no fat is added in the cake.  To produce, good quality foam type cake, it is indispensable to use weak flour of fine granulation, preferably soft or cake flour.  The flour can be further weaken by the addition of cornstarch.  Sponge cakes, angel food cakes and chiffon cakes are examples of foam type cakes.

Sponge Cakes
Although there are many types of sponge cakes, they all have one characteristic in common: They are made with an egg foam that contains yolks (Gisslen 2005).  The basic ingredients for a sponge cake are Eggs, Sugar and Flour.

Plain sponge method
  1. The eggs, sugar and salt are combined and then slightly beaten over a hot water bath until the mixture warms to a temperature of about 43°C. (The foam attains greater volume if it is warm).
  2. The beaten egg is taken off from the water bath and then beaten at high speed with a mixer until it is very light and thick.  Flavouring can be whipped in, in a steady stream.
  3. Sifted flour and cornstarch are folded in the foam in 3-4 stages.  Many bakers prefer to do this step by hand even for large batches.
  4. The cake is immediately panned and baked to prevent loss of volume.
Butter Sponge or Genoise (Genoese)
Gently fold in the melted butter after the flour has been added.  Care should be taken not to over-mix.  The cake batter is panned and baked immediately.

Hot Milk and Butter Sponge
The milk and the butter is heated until the butter is melted.  The hot mixture is poured in 3 stages into the basic sponge cake mixture after flour has been folded.  The cake batter is immediately panned and baked.

Egg-separated method
  1. The yolks are beaten with half of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. The egg whites and the other half of the sugar are whipped until moist peaks are formed.  
  3. The egg whites and the sifted dry ingredients are alternately folded into the yolk.
  4. Melted butter can then be folded in.  The cake batter is immediately panned and baked.

This is one of the best video I have seen so far on how to make a Genoise using the plain sponge method (Video uploaded by ChefHaymon's):

Angel Food Cake
Angel food cake is leavened only by air and steam, with no chemical leavening.  The air and steam are primarily derived from the egg whites, which with sugar constitute the main ingredients of the cake.  Sugar is the tenderizing agent for the cake since the cake does not contain shortening.  Care of the egg whites is important for a successful cake.  The eggs should be separated when cold and allowed to warm to room temperature. There should be no trace of egg yolk (fat) in the white since the presence of fat will hinder the whites from beating. In addition, the bowl, beaters, and tube pan must be also grease free (Conforti, 2006).

Procedure: Angel Food Method
  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. The egg whites may be slightly warmed in order to achieve better volume.
  2. Sift the flour with 40-50% of the sugar. This step helps the flour to mix more evenly with the foam.
  3. Whip the egg whites, to which salt and cream of tartar have been added, until they start to form soft peaks.
  4. Gradually add the remaining sugar (50-60%) in a slow stream, whipping continuously until the meringue retains soft moist peaks.
  5.  Fold in the flour-sugar mixture gently.
  6. Pour the mixture in an ungreased tube-style pan and bake immediately.

Chiffon Cakes
Chiffon cakes and angel food cakes are both based on egg-white foams.  The differences are that:
  • Chiffon cakes contains fat (Yolk and liquid fat) while angel food cakes are fat-free.
  • In angel food cakes, a dry flour-sugar mixture is folded into the egg whites while in chiffon cakes, a batter containing flour, egg yolks, vegetable oil, and water is folded into the whites.
  • Egg whites for chiffon cakes should be whipped until they are a little firmer than those for angel food cakes,but do not whip them until they are dry.  
  • Chiffon cakes contain baking powder, so they do not depend solely on the egg foam for all their leavening.
Procedure: Chiffon Method
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and part of the sugar into a mixing bowl.
  2. Gradually beat in the oil, yolks, liquid and flavourings.  Mix until smooth and care should be taken not to overmix.
  3. Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until they start to form soft peaks.  Add the cream of tartar and sugar in a stream whipping continuously until stiff but not dry. 
  4. Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.  Immediately pour in ungreased tube-style pan and bake.

This is also called Creaming/Sponge Method whereby two methods are combined together.  The whipped egg whites act as a leavening agent and thus make the cake lighter.
Procedure 1: 
  1. Cream the butter and half of the sugar until light.  Beat in the egg yolk one by one until the mixture is fluffy.
  2. Whip the egg whites and the remaining sugar to a stiff meringue.  Fold the meringue in the creamed butter mixture.  
  3. Sift in the dry ingredients and fold.  Bake in a greased and lined tin.
Procedure 2:
  1. Cream the butter and half of the sugar until light.  Beat in the egg yolk one by one until the mixture is fluffy.  Sift in and fold in 1/2-3/4 of the flour.  
  2. Whip the egg whites and the remaining sugar to a stiff meringue.  Fold half of the meringue into the cake mixture, then fold in the remaining sifted flour.
  3. Complete by folding in the remaining whipped egg whites.  Bake in a greased and lined tin.

Conforti, F.D. (2006), 'Cake Manufacture', in Hui, Y.H. (ed.), Corke, H., De Leyn, I., Nip, W. and Cross, N. (Assoc. eds), Bakery Products: Science and Technology, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, UK.

Davies, J. (1997), Hammond's Cooking Explained, 4th edn, Addison Wesley Longman Limited.

Gisslen, W. (2005), Professional Baking, 4th edn, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey.

Hanneman, L.J. (2005), Patisserie, 2nd edn, Elsevier Ltd, USA.


  1. Hi Nashreen... Can you please help me with a good eggless sponge receipe??

  2. Hi Nashreen.. Can you please help me with a good eggless sponge cake receipe

    1. Hi Nashreen, Can you help with good,non-failing eggless genoese and sponge cake recipe? Any flavour:vanilla and chocolate will work!


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