(Almost) According to Delia: Sponge Cake

It’s a classic, is the humble Sponge. The basic recipe, for a simple yet delicious cake, from which all others are simply variations. If you know a good recipe for a Sponge, you’re set for life when it comes to cakes.

When I was allowed to bake unaccompanied (I have a feeling my mother didn’t know. Or my dad was the one in charge that day and he was out hedging, probably), the first recipe I remember using was one of Delia’s, from her How to Cook series. I had a habit then, as now when I can, of adding in all sorts of sweet and sickly extras (although, I never tried all-sorts in my cakes). Terribly sweet-toothed as a child. Less so now, after various no-sugar experiments.

But anyway. The humble Sponge Cake. Light, delicate, and extremely versatile. This one, as requested by Mark, has fewer changes made: the only important deviation was switching out the stated vanilla for some Sicilian lemon. I’m not sure how this has been able to happen but my pantry has been allowed to run out of vanilla, so I had to substitute quickly. And with my planned topping of raspberry, I figured lemon would go nicely.

As always, the preferred size tin is smaller than my smallest, which is a 9″ diameter one; Delia would prefer you use a 7″ one. Mine might turn out to be a one-layer cake, slathered in whipped cream and topped with the aforementioned raspberries. Oh well!

Sponge Cake


115g/4oz self-raising flour (actually, I used plain)

1 level tsp baking powder (mine was heaped, because of the flour)

115g/4oz spreadable butter

115g/4oz golden caster sugar (again, I used what was in my cupboard, which was ordinary caster)

2 large eggs (I think mine were small, which might explain the need for a little milk)

1 tsp vanilla essence (like I said, I used Sicilian lemon)

Jam and/or whipped cream to sandwich

How to Make:

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3 and grease and line your tin. If you’ve got the little ones, you’ll need two. Otherwise, one will do.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then add in the other ingredients. If you’ve got a food processor, use that until it’s a creamy consistency. If you don’t, you’re in good company: I don’t either. We need to apply a little old-fashioned elbow-grease and mix with a wooden spoon until it reaches the proper cake-batter consistency. If, like me, you find it’s a bit hard-going, you might benefit from the addition of a splash of milk.

Pour into the tin or tins and pop in the oven for about half an hour. Allow to cool on a wire-rack and decorate as desired. Traditionally, one sandwiches the two halves together with jam (strawberry or raspberry) and whipped cream, if you’re feeling decadent. If you used a single large tin, you might decide that it would be a bit thin to slice in two, in which case one layer, lots of topping!


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