Homemade sponge cake: discover the tricks to make it spongy
How many times has it happened to me that, after spending time and wanting to make the dough for my biscuits, an inedible mazacote or a good-looking but raw sponge cake has come out of the oven. What anger have I felt. However, after many years baking homemade cakes , I have discovered the tricks to make them spongy.
To prevent this from happening to you as much as possible, I will tell you the tricks so that you can make your homemade cakes look fluffy and perfect. All of them, the result of practice and experience. I hope they serve you or that, at least, you can take them as a reference to adapt them to your kitchens.
When making homemade cakes, the most important points to keep in mind so that they come out spongy are: the ingredients, the dough, the baking and the preservation.
- Before starting, all heavy ingredients must be available accurately . Pastry is an exact science and gives little room for variation. It is not like the kitchen, in which we can work by eye and obtain good results. It is not surprising that, in professional pastry, recipes are called formulas.
- The ingredients must be at room temperature , unless the recipe or formula indicates otherwise, to prevent the dough from cutting at some point in the smoothie. For this, we take everything necessary from the refrigerator for a while before starting the preparation.
- The size of the eggs is important. In general, if the recipe does not indicate anything, the reference is for size M eggs , whose weight ranges from 55 to 65 grams per unit. If we do not have M size eggs, we must translate the required quantity to grams and weigh the egg that we have. This way we will avoid adding more liquid than necessary to our doughs.
- Adding salt to the mixture , in a very small amount, helps to enhance the flavor of sweets and, in this case, of biscuits. A pinch of salt mixed with the flour will be welcome. But we can also do without it if our cake requires butter and we use the one that contains salt.
- If our cake is chocolate or cocoa, another ingredient that helps enhance the final flavor is coffee. It’s amazing what a tablespoon of espresso can do to the dough. What a result.
- Converting an egg cake recipe into a chocolate cake recipe , we just have to add cocoa powder and adjust the amount of flour to compensate. That is, if we add 80 grams of cocoa to the mass, we have to subtract 80 grams of flour. We mix both ingredients and add them together to the dough.
- The type of flour to use is common wheat flour . There are many blends that add chemical impeller to flour and market it as cake flour, saving you from having to add the impeller later. However, my recommendation is to use wheat flour and booster separately, so we control the amount we use of the latter.
- The chemical booster is what we popularly call and know as Royal yeast. It is the correct ingredient to make biscuits, since it reacts with heat during baking. We should never confuse it with baker’s yeast (whether fresh or dry). Its use is optional.
- Scenting the dough is recommended to add a subtle flavor to the biscuits. Use essences, such as vanilla, or lemon, orange, or lime zest. Let the skins of these fruits dry (without any white) and pulverize them with an electric mixer. They last in perfect condition for a long time and are wonderful natural flavorings.
- The dough for a homemade sponge cake has to contain a lot of air. We can achieve this with a suitable shake that can be done with whole eggs, along with sugar, or with separate eggs, yolks and sugar on one side and whites on the other. The difference is negligible in the final result, not the process.
- Whipping whole eggs with sugar is a bit of a pain, it costs more to assemble and incorporate the necessary air into them. If we beat them near a source of heat or, even, in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water, the process accelerates and the result is excellent. When the dough has tripled its volume and has turned whitish , we can stop beating.
- The incorporation of air in the dough is also carried out by sifting the flour , or the flour together with the cocoa in the case of brownies. If we perform this step correctly, it will not be necessary to use a chemical impeller. However, if we choose to use it, we also sift it together with the flour.
- It is convenient to add the flour to the beaten egg immediately , so that the incorporated air is not lost, as well as stirring very gently and as little as possible. It is best to do it little by little, stirring from the bottom up with a tongue, and do not add more flour until the previous one has not been completely incorporated and there are no lumps.
- Once the dough is ready, no waiting is allowed and the cake must be baked immediately . For this, we must have our mold prepared and the oven at the appropriate temperature. So that the dough does not stick to the mold, we spread it with butter and sprinkle it with flour, removing the excess, hitting it gently, upside down.
- We can transfer the dough to the mold with the help of a pastry bag , so we will get it well distributed over the entire surface. This is important if we are going to use a baking sheet and make a cake plate, but it is not necessary in the case of traditional molds.
- Generally, the proper oven temperature is 180 ° C , with heat coming from the top and bottom equally. The use of air or turbo is optional, but if it is used, the temperature must be adjusted, reducing it by about 10ºC. The best place to bake the cake is in the center of the oven and if it is placed on a tray, much better than on a rack. This way the heat will arrive in the same way from all its sides.
- Having said that, each oven is a world and these are the indications that I use with mine. It is important to experiment with yours to find the temperature, position and height that work with yours. As a reference I will tell you that a cake that rises only from the sides, needs more heat, and that a cake that rises excessively through the center, needs less heat.
- One of the golden rules of baking cakes is not to open the oven during the process , at least for 2/3 of the required cooking time. After this time, it is perfectly safe to open the oven door to check the cooking point or to cover with aluminum foil if the surface is excessively browned.
- As for the cooking or baking time , this is key so that our homemade cakes do not dry out excessively. As a general rule, bake seven minutes for every centimeter of thickness of the dough. In the case of baking brownies, the baking time increases to 10 minutes. However, we must always follow the directions in the recipe.