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American Sponge Cake Recipe & Video

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As its name implies, this American Sponge Cake has a spongy texture that is wonderfully light and moist. It has a sweet citrus flavor and since it does not contain solid fat, it is the ideal cake for those watching their fat intake. This cake can be eaten plain, with just a dusting of powdered sugar. But my favorite way is to use it to make Strawberry Shortcake. Just cut the cake in half and fill it with lightly sweetened strawberries and lots of whipped cream.  

As with a lot of sponge cakes, this American Sponge Cake gets most of its rise from the air whipped into the eggs. The eggs are first separated and this is easier to do when the eggs are still cold. Then the egg yolks and granulated white sugar are beaten until thick, light, and fluffy. This takes several minutes and this long beating time is necessary for it not only gives the baked cake its full volume, it also gives the cake its nice open grain. Next the flour, mixed with a little baking powder and salt, is sifted over the yolks and folded in. Finally, the egg whites are beaten with a little sugar just until they are glossy and stiff. Care must be taken when folding the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to ensure that the batter does not deflate too much. The cake is baked in a moderate oven until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

This recipe uses an ungreased tube pan with a removable bottom which gives the cake support as well as making it easier to remove. The pan is left ungreased so the batter can cling to the sides of the pan as it bakes and allows the cake to reach its full volume. The hole in the middle of the pan allows the hot air to circulate and reach the center of the cake. Once the cake is baked it is immediately inverted so the baked cake will maintain its volume and keep it from shrinking as it cools.

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American Sponge Cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Have ready an ungreased two-piece 10 inch (25 cm) tube pan. 

Separate the eggs while they are still cold, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature (about 30 to 60 minutes).

Meanwhile, sift or whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, place 2/3 cup (135 grams) of the sugar. With a fork, mix the lemon or orange zest into the sugar.

Place the egg yolks and the lemon/sugar mixture into the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Beat on high speed until the mixture is thick, fluffy, and light colored (when you slowly raise the beater the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon). This will take about 4 to 5 minutes. Then beat in the vanilla extract and water. Set aside while you beat the egg whites.

In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar, on medium low speed, until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup (65 grams) of sugar and continue beating, on medium high speed, until the egg whites are shiny and form stiff peaks. 

Next, sift the flour mixture over the beaten egg yolks (about one third of the flour mixture at a time) and gently but quickly fold (with a wire whisk or rubber spatula) the flour into the egg yolk batter. Then gently fold a little of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten it, and then add the rest of the whites, folding just until incorporated. (Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.) Pour the batter into the tube pan, smoothing the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 28 - 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately invert the pan  (turn upside down) and suspend it by placing the inner tube on the top of a flat topped bowl. Allow the cake to cool completely before unmolding (about one hour). To remove the cake from the pan, first run a flat metal spatula or sharp knife around the inside of the pan and then remove the center core of the pan. Run the spatula along the bottom and center core of the pan. Invert the cake onto a greased wire rack. The cake can be served plain with a dusting of powdered sugar or with fresh fruit and softly whipped cream. This cake can be covered and stored for a few days, or it can be frozen.

Serves about 10 people.

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American Sponge Cake:

6 large eggs, separated (you will need 185 grams of egg whites and 105 grams of egg yolks)

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (100 grams) cake flour

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) fine kosher salt

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar, divided

Zest (outer skin) of one lemon or orange

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons (28 grams) water

3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) cream of tartar



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