Traditional Sponge Cake

Total Time

Prep: 15 min. Bake: 55 min. + cooling


12 servings

Updated: Oct. 21, 2023
This light sponge cake makes a fitting finale to any meal.—Arlene Murphy, Beverly Hills, Florida


  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Chocolate ice cream topping, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift flour and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat yolks until slightly thickened. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Blend in water and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to yolk mixture; mix well.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Fold a fourth of egg whites into the batter, then fold in remaining whites.
  4. Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake on the lowest oven rack until cake springs back when lightly touched, 55-60 minutes. Immediately invert the pan; cool completely.
  5. Run a knife around side and center tube of pan. Remove cake to a serving plate. If desired, serve with ice cream topping.

Traditional Sponge Cake Tips

What is the difference between a regular cake and a sponge cake?

Cakes are divided into two basic categories. The first group is called shortened cakes, butter cakes or high-fat cakes. These cakes use some type of fat: butter, margarine, shortening or oil. The second group is called foam, or low-fat cakes. Sponge cakes belong to this category. Foam cakes have a high ratio of eggs to flour, and depending on the type of foam cake, may contain either no fat or a small amount of fat, generally in the form of egg yolk and oil.

What does cream of tartar do to a sponge cake?

Cream of tartar acts as a stabilizer to bond the ingredients together. In this recipe, the cream of tartar works with the egg whites to boost volume by enhancing the formation of air bubbles and preventing them from flattening. This is what gives the cake its light and fluffy texture. Learn more about the science behind cream of tartar and how it works in a variety of recipes.

What do you serve with sponge cake?

There are lots of delicious ways to enhance a plain sponge cake. You can frost the cake with homemade frosting, add a scoop of ice cream, or top with sweetened whipped cream and your favorite fresh berries.

Research contributed by Amy Glander, Taste of Home Book Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 191 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated fat), 93mg cholesterol, 134mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (25g sugars, 0 fiber), 5g protein.