Whisked sponge

Whisked sponge

Leiths How to Cook
1 x 20 cm sponge
Peter Cassidy

This fatless sponge is best eaten the day it is baked.


Quantity Ingredient
oil, to grease
85g caster sugar, plus extra to dust
85g plain flour, plus extra to dust
pinch salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons warm water

To assemble (option 1)

Quantity Ingredient
200ml whipping cream
250g raspberries
or 250g strawberries, halved

To assemble (option 2)

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 quantity Custard-based buttercream
4-5 tablespoons raspberry jam


  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC. Oil and line a 20 cm cake tin, then dust with sugar followed by flour, tapping out the excess. Sift the flour and salt onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.
  2. Break the eggs into a large heatproof bowl, add the sugar and, using a handheld electric whisk, start whisking on a low speed without moving the whisk through the eggs and sugar until they are combined.
  3. Place the bowl over a saucepan of just boiled water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water, and continue to whisk on a low speed for 3–4 minutes. This will help to build up a network of small air bubbles, which will help to stabilise the mixture.
  4. Increase the speed and continue whisking until the mixture becomes very pale, fluffy and mousse-like, and is ‘to the ribbon’, holding about a 5–6 second ribbon. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue whisking until the bowl has cooled slightly, a further 1–2 minutes. Lastly, whisk in the water.
  5. Sift the flour and salt again over the whisked mixture and, using a large metal spoon, carefully fold it in, trying not to beat any air out of the mixture.
  6. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared tin, holding the bowl as close to the tin as possible, to ensure minimal air loss. Give the tin a little tap on the work surface to bring any large air bubbles to the surface.
  7. Stand the cake tin on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes. After 25 minutes, you should be able to smell the sponge. At this point (not before, or the sponge may sink), open the oven door a little and have a look. The sponge should be risen, golden, slightly shrinking away from the sides and crinkly at the edges. When lightly pressed with your fingertips, it should bounce back and not leave an indentation. If you are close to the sponge you will hear a slight creaking when you press it.
  8. Stand the sponge, still in its tin, on a wire rack to cool a little for 1–2 minutes, then carefully invert it and leave upside down on the wire rack, still in the tin, to cool completely.
  9. To release the sponge from the tin, run a cutlery knife around the side of the sponge, keeping the knife firmly against the tin. Once fully released, carefully turn the sponge onto a clean hand and gently place back down on the wire rack. Peel off the lining paper. To serve, cut the cake horizontally into 2 layers and sandwich together with whipped cream and berries or buttercream and jam.

A note on ‘to the ribbon’...

  • This term is used to describe the thickness of a whisked mixture, such as eggs and sugar. When the beaters are lifted, the mixture should fall from them onto the surface of the mixture in a wide ribbon-like trail and hold itself there for a few seconds before sinking in. When a recipe calls for a 4 or 5 or 6 second ribbon, this refers to the length of time the ribbon trail holds on the surface of the mixture. Normally a 5–6 second ribbon is required, but check the recipe.
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