Featherlight sponge

Of the hundreds of sponge cake recipes created in the Test Kitchen, this heirloom recipe from the family of Cathie and Wendy Lonnie wins our vote hands down, as our best ever.

  • 40 mins preparation (plus standing)
  • Serves 10
  • Print


  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup (165g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (150g) wheaten cornflour (cornstarch)
  • ¼ cup (30g) custard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 300 ml thickened (heavy cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (80g) strawberry jam
  • 250 grams strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 125 grams strawberries, extra, halved
  • 1 cup (160g) icing (confectioners') sugar
  • 10 grams butter, softened
  • 1½ tablespoons milk, approaximately


  • 1
    Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Grease two deep 22cm (9-inch) round cake pans; lightly flour the pans with a little plain flour and shake out the excess.
  • 2
    Beat eggs and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer, 7 minutes, until thick and creamy (see tips). Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
  • 3
    Sift dry ingredients twice onto a piece of baking paper. Sift flour mixture a third time evenly onto egg mixture. Using a balloon whisk or large metal spoon, quickly and lightly fold flour mixture through egg mixture until incorporated. Pour mixture evenly into pans; tilt pans to spread mixture to the edge.
  • 4
    Bake sponges 20 minutes or until they spring back when pressed lightly in the centre. Turn sponges immediately, top-side up, onto baking-paper-covered wire racks. Cool.
  • 5
    Beat cream and extract in a small bowl with an electric mixer until firm peaks form.
  • 6
    Place one sponge on a cake stand or plate, spread with jam and cream; top with sliced strawberries.
  • 7
    Make icing.
  • 8
    Turn remaining sponge top-side down on lined wire rack; spread with warm icing. Place on other sponge. Stand 15 minutes or until icing is set. Top with extra strawberries.
  • 9
    Sift icing sugar into a medium heatproof bowl; stir in butter and enough milk to form a firm paste. (Add the milk gradually, as just a small amount can alter the consistency.) Place bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water; stir until icing is a pouring consistency.


Aluminium cake pans are the best to use for sponge cakes as they conduct the heat. Avoid black coated pans. Using a small bowl when beating the eggs and sugar in step 2 will maximise volume. To test when the mixture is thick and creamy, turn off mixer then lift the beaters – the mixture should form thick ribbons.Before baking, tap the sponge on the base of the pan with your fingers to remove large air pockets. This recipe is best made on the day of serving. The sponge can be filled several hours before.

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