This Champion Sponge Cake recipe comes from a very old community cookbook. I have always found it amusing that this recipe… for this cake that we think is so wonderful… was submitted by an elderly woman in the neighborhood whose entire family had a reputation for being really bad cooks and especially for making absolutely awful cakes! I can only think none of them actually made this particular recipe, because it makes the best sponge cake. Although the recipe sounds complicated, the cake is actually really easy to make, and when you follow the instructions exactly it turns out light and delicious every single time. I also like that this sponge cake recipe requires only four eggs. In our family this cake is a birthday favorite, and it is always one of the first choices when we need something for a special occasion. This cake also freezes beautifully.
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar to add to yolks
3/4 cup sugar to add to egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup boiling water
Measure flour, baking powder, and salt, and sift together three times.
Separate eggs, being careful not to get any of the yolks in the egg whites. Beat the egg whites until they are thick. (The recipe says by hand, but I use a small hand mixer.) Add 3/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are VERY stiff. (When you lift the beaters, the egg whites should stand in peaks.) Add the vanilla but do not stir it in.
Beat the egg yolks in another bowl until thick. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat again until the yolks are light yellow and very thick. (Use the mixer again… there is no need to wash the beaters that you used to beat the egg whites.)
Add the boiling water to the egg yolks. Add the water slowly in a thin stream and stir constantly so the yolks do not “cook.”
Sift the flour mixture into the egg yolk and boiling water mixture and mix just enough to blend. All the flour must be incorporated into the liquid mixture. I like to use a clear glass bowl so I can lift the bowl up and look through the bottom to make sure there aren’t any unmixed areas.
Fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites. Don’t over-mix, but make sure that all the ingredients get blended well together. Pour the batter into an UNGREASED tube cake pan and bake at 350°F for one hour and five minutes. Test for doneness… a toothpick or metal skewer inserted into the cake will come out clean and dry when the cake is done.
Remove the cake from the oven and immediately turn the pan upside down to cool. Let the cake cool completely before removing from the pan.