Sponge Cake

Typically the first cake most Kenyan girls learn to bake is a vanilla sponge cake. After my mum taught me and I mastered it, I would add to the basic recipe carrots for a “carrot cake”.  Lemon rind and juice for a “lemon cake”. Cocoa for “chocolate cake”. When the cocoa wasn’t enough, a “marble cake”.


Then coffee houses like Java and the internet expanded my baking horizons. However, a vanilla or plain sponge cake still remains one of my favourite cakes. And with a food processor baking it is pretty quick.

To get a sponge cake that is light and moist, there really is no other way than to use a scale to measure the ingredients. I have tried to convert the recipe to cups but your best option is to use scales.


Want to take your sponge cake to the next level? Below are some tried, tested and true tips.

  1. If for instance the recipe calls for 175 grams self-raising flour, substitute it with 150 grams self-raising and 25 grams cornflour (Homemade cake flour).
  2. Add an extra teaspoon of baking powder.
  3. Start off by weighing the eggs in its shell first. The butter, sugar, eggs and flour should all be the same weight.
    So let’s say 3 eggs weighed 160 grams. The recipe would be: 160g butter=160g sugar=160g eggs=160g flour


Now that the ingredients are out of the way, tips on how to combine them. The easy way is in the food processor. Dump in all the ingredients, mix and bake.

The second is the creaming method. (Flash back to doing this with a wooden spoon before we got a hand mixer!) Cream the butter and sugar and then add the eggs one at a time. The eggs should be fully emulsified.

But what if after adding the eggs the mixture looks curdled?

  • You probably used cold eggs from the fridge.  See how to bring eggs to room temperature in 5 minutes.
  • Or the eggs were added all at once which does not give the creamed butter enough time to absorb the eggs.
  • Or, strange as it may sound you did not scrape down the sides of the bowl.

How to fix it?

  • Scrape the sides of the bowl completely to incorporate the ingredients and continue mixing.
  • Or, add a Tablespoon of flour before adding in the next egg, to absorb the liquid that is not being absorbed by the butter.

Armed with this information, “go ye and bake a sponge cake”.


Vanilla Sponge Cake


  • 225 grams or 1 cup room temperature butter or margarine
  • 225 grams or 1 1/8 cup sugar
  • 5 room temperature eggs (weigh your eggs with the shells, it could be more or less)
  • 5 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 200 grams or 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour∗
  • 25 grams or 3 Tablespoons corn flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt∗NOTE: If using self-raising flour omit bicarbonate, salt and only 1 teaspoon baking powder


Heat the oven to 160°C or 375°F.

Cream the 2 cups butter and 1 1/8 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

Whisk in the 5 eggs one at a time until it is completely absorbed.

Into the egg mixture, whisk in the 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 5 Tablespoons milk and the 1 2/3 cups self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 3 Tablespoons corn flour.

Spread some chocolate icing or passion fruit curd instead of icing. Enjoy!



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