A quality sponge cake has the following characteristics:
- A flat or slightly rounded top
- An even, delicate brown crust
- A small even, resilient, wonderful yellow crumb
- It is tender, light, clammy and neither sticky nor dry
- A gentle flavour
Sponge Cakes Ingredients and Their Functions
Basic ingredients in sponge cakes include flour, eggs, and sugar. A true sponge does not include added fat in the formula.
- Flour is needed for structural purposes. For a top-quality product, use flour of fine granulation, soft or cake flour is recommended. Flours of extraction above 70 to 72 % produce a heavy, darker, coarse-grained cake.
- Eggs are used to incorporate air into the mixture. They are the liquid in the formula, which is necessary for the hydration of proteins in the flour, for gelatinization of starch, and as a source of steam which is a leavening agent. The coagulated egg protein contributes to the cake structure. The egg yolk contributes to the golden colour of the product.
- Castor sugar is recommended. This has a tenderizing effect as well as contributing to the flavour, colour and keeping qualities of the cake.
- Fat oil is included in the recipe for a Genoese sponge
Recipe Balance in Sponge Cakes
Basic Formula for Sponge Cake
- 50 g soft flour
- 50 g sugar
- 2 eggs
Compared with shortened cakes, sponge cakes have a high proportion of sugar and egg to flour. Imbalance of ingredients in this mixture produces faults.
Preparation Techniques for Sponge Cakes
- Mixing: the egg and sugar are whisked together to form a foam. As whisking proceeds, the mixture becomes thicker and lighter in color. To test if the correct consistency has been achieved, make a figure of eight or an S shape from the mixture adhering to the whisk. When this is dropped on to the surface of the foam it should stay visible for 3 seconds if the foam is sufficiently aerated.
- Oil is whisked in at this stage in the preparation of a Genoese sponge
- Flour is sifted and lightly folded into the egg foam.
If the egg and sugar mixture is under-whisked or the folding in is excessive the cake will be a poor volume, heavy and with a coarse grain as opposed to a fine one.
Cooking Sponge Cakes
Sponge cakes should be baked as soon as they have been made. If they are left to stand, the large air cells rise to the top of the mixture. Baking is usually at 220 degrees Celsius to 230 degrees Celsius. During baking steam produced from the liquid in the egg acts as the temperature increases. The film of batter surrounding the air cells sets and when this happens gases in the air bubbles leak out and the characteristic texture of the baked product is formed.
Higher temperatures than those given above result in the product’s having a greater volume and tenderness, but the cake tends to be over-browned. The greater volume and tenderness of cakes cooked at higher temperatures are due to the batter setting more rapidly and less water being taken up by the starch in the flour.
Sponge Mixtures in Food Preparation
Sponge mixtures can be used for:
- Sponge cake; small or large, fruit flans
- Swiss roll, plain or chocolate
- Genoese sponge
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