I made this sponge cake as a base to make a cake for my friend’s birthday recently. The cake was free of dairy products but still tasted great. I have readers who told me about their failure when making sponge cake, especially the chocolate version. Everything was fine when beating the whole eggs, but then the batter deflated in the speed of lightning once the flour was folded in. The result was a dense and coarse cake. That has happened to me before as well; however, after trying this method from a Japanese cooking website a couple of years ago, my sponge cakes always come out nice and fluffy. This method involves beating the egg whites into a meringue first before beating in the yolks. And then followed by the folding of flour and fats as usual. In order to prevent the cocoa powder from deflating the batter, it is mixed into the oil and then added only at the very last stage.
This cake tastes delicious when served as is, or you could cut it into layers and use that as a base cake for any mousse cake or whipped cream cake. Because it is made with liquid oil, the cake won’t harden when chilled. If you are looking for firmer sponge cake that is able to bear weight (like when you are making a fondant cake), please visit my other blog posts, Basic Sponge Cake (2) or Chocolate Genoise.
Chocolate Genoise (Dairy Free)
For 6”x 3” round cake pan
55 g cake and pastry flour
10 g cornstarch
A pinch of salt
15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
35 g grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice (I use Korean apple vinegar)
50 g granulated sugar (I use organic sugar)
30 g water
Notes: The eggs I use are about 50 g each without shells.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF/170ºC. Line bottom of a 6″ round pan with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
To bloom the cocoa powder, heat oil in a small saucepan (or use the microwave) until warm but not hot. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
*Hot oil helps bring out the aroma in the cocoa powder. Skip the heating process if time is running short
In a clean mixing bowl, whip egg whites and vinegar with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar in batches and continue beating until glossy and firm peaks form.
Add in the yolks and beat with medium speed until incorporated, about one minute. The mixture will be very creamy, fluffy and hold soft peaks while you lift the whisk up.
Sift half of the flour mixture over the batter and fold flour into the batter gently with a whisk while rotating the bowl after each fold. Fold in the water. Sift remaining flour mixture over and fold gently until smooth and just combined.
Take a big scoop out of the batter and fold into the cocoa powder-oil mixture to lighten it (this will prevent the mixture from sinking to the bottom of batter). Add this back into the batter then fold gently until homogeneous.
Pour batter into the pan and tap cake pan against the kitchen counter several times to get rid of any large air bubbles. Smooth top with a spatula. Bake until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Every oven is different so adjust baking time accordingly. Drop cake pan on the kitchen counter at a distance upon removal from the oven to release any gas trapped in the cake cells and minimize shrinkage. Cool on a wire rack before unmolding. Cool completely before leveling the top and slicing into layers.
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