At first glance, cake appears to be one of the simplest forms of dessert to prepare. It doesn’t require the mixology of great pie filling or the stacking skills of a croquembouche. You can probably make a basic vanilla cake with ingredients in your pantry right now. But the reality is that cakes are more complicated than that, and we’re not just talking about their frosting. Take for example the fine difference between sponge cake and butter cake.
The two are similar at first glance, but look closer and you’ll see that these two confections couldn’t be more different. Sponge cakes are physically light, getting their name from their slightly spongy texture that doesn’t stand up to heavy icing. Buttercakes are heavier and denser, with copious weight in every bite. You don’t get the same fluffiness you get with a sponge cake, but butter cakes can be exceptionally moist and pair well with many types of frostings and frostings.
The differences in taste and texture between these cakes arise from the start of a recipe, where you will find that sponge cakes and sponge cakes require very different ingredients.
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How to make a sponge cake
Sponge cakes are also sometimes called mousse cakes because of their springy texture. Luckily, sponge cakes are tastier than that dish sponge next to your sink. The light texture is due to the air mixed into the dough. To make a sponge cake, you only need three ingredients: sugar, flour and eggs, making it a relatively simple cake to prepare. Some cooks remove the yolks and use only the egg whites, which will result in a lighter but drier cake.
The trick here is to beat your eggs well, which introduces air and produces foam. A stand mixer will give you hands free to pour in the sugar while the eggs are mixed. Since sponge cakes don’t use baking powder or leavening agents, the air from the mixture plays a dual role in giving the cake its lift and texture.
From here, you’ll want to mix in the flour slowly, being careful not to go too fast and to eliminate any air bubbles. Then it’s straight into a cake pan and into the oven. Sponge cakes work especially well with light toppings like whipped frosting and fresh berries.
How to make a butter cake
When it comes to baking a butter cake, it’s important to realize that there are actually many confections that fall under this umbrella term. Buttercakes range from pound cake to red velvet to classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Although each variation of butter cake has its own recipe, all of them share two common factors: they contain butter or oil and also a leavening agent like baking powder.
To make a classic butter cake, let your butter come to room temperature before baking. Then incorporate the sugar until you obtain an airy mixture. Then add two eggs to the mixture, which will help the sugar permeate the cake batter. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the contents of these two bowls to form your cake batter.
If cooked properly, your buttercake should be moist and slightly heavy. Be careful not to overcook or undercook it, as it will be raw in the center or become dry and crumbly. Now that you know the difference between these two cakes, let’s get to baking!