Gluten-Free Sponge Cake

By • April 2, 2014 • 14 Comments

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Author Notes: This light as a feather sponge is made with just three ingredients - potato starch, eggs and sugar. It's based on Pellegrino Artusi's 1891 recipe for "Torta Margherita" (daisy cake), a classic Italian "breakfast cake". It's a great recipe when you need a sponge for other dessert recipes like trifle or Sicilian cassata as it is light, fluffy and dry (so it's wonderfully absorbent for desserts that need a sponge to soak up other flavours and wet fillings). I also use this sponge recipe as is, or filled with freshly whipped cream and strawberries.Emiko

Serves 8

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cups (150 grams) sugar
  • 1 cup (150 grams) potato starch
  1. Beat together the yolks and half the sugar until extremely pale and creamy, about 10 minutes. The longer you beat, the fluffier the cake.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the whites until fluffy then add the rest of the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold some of the potato starch into the yolk mixture, then some of the whites, and continue alternating this way until you have a well-combined, smooth, fluffy batter.
  3. Pour into a cake tin lined with parchment and bake at 350ºF for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly in the pan before removing to a rack to cool.
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5 months ago flourgirl

Reporting back on my Tres Leches cake. It was incredible! I never could find the potato starch, so I used King Arthur's Gluten-Free flour, and followed the recipe otherwise. I used an 8" cake pan and it puffed up beautifully, almost too much! A 9" would have been better, probably, but this one looked so tall and gorgeous. It soaked up the 3 1/2 cups of the milk mixture like a dream. I refrigerated it overnight, presented it with a fresh-whipped cream topping and fresh berries and orange slices, and it was a huge hit! MY granddaughter loved it, and my husband and I, who are not gluten-free, actually liked it better than my regular Tres Leches! Special touches: added a bit of orange zest to the lovely batter, and a smidgen of rum to the whipping cream. But the recipe, as is, worked out beautifully. A splendid end to Easter dinner. Thanks so much!

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5 months ago Emiko

Lovely to hear! Sounds great. Orange zest is a wonderful idea too, thanks for the feedback!

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6 months ago flourgirl

I will be using this recipe to make a Tres Leches cake on Easter for my gluten-free granddaughter. She's visiting me from college. The only thing I could find was Bob's Red Mill Potato Flour. Will that work? No sign of "Potato Starch". Thanks for your help!

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6 months ago Emiko

Hi! No, potato flour is a thickening agent and quite a different product! Potato starch is much like cornstarch, which is a good substitute if you can't get potato starch.

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3 months ago Ekatrina

Hi, I replaced potato starch with corn starch. The cake doubled in the oven and looked great, but once I took it out it collapsed. Is it possibly the corn starch?

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6 months ago Nan

Would this recipe work in a jelly roll pan (approximately 15.5" x 1" x 10.5") ?

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6 months ago Emiko

I have only made it in a round pan and have used a 10 inch and also a 12 inch for this recipe in the past with this same amount and it has been fine, always producing a cake about 2 inches tall. So it may be enough for your jelly roll pan but if in doubt, for those extra inches, you could add 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 30 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of potato starch.

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6 months ago Linda

I would love to make this for my next breakfast meeting. Do you recommend a particular size pan for the baking time and temperature in the recipe? Thanks

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6 months ago Emiko

Good question -- a regular 10 inch pan should do the trick!

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6 months ago flourgirl

Would this cake work for a "Tres Leches", soaking up the milk mixture which is poured over it?

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6 months ago Emiko

It's a great cake for soaking up anything - haven't experienced with Tres Leches but I'd imagine it would work out very nicely!

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6 months ago Yazoolulu

I made this yesterday to use in a trifle. I was intrigued by the history and the fact that it has only three ingredients (which I already had on hand). It worked perfectly. I whipped the egg whites first, put them in another bowl and then whipped the yolks for 10 minutes. I used a springform pan and it turned out just as pictured. It is a pretty eggy tasting cake. The next time, I think I'll add lemon zest or vanilla. Still, I love the history and simplicity.

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6 months ago Emiko

Great to hear the feedback - yes, I particularly like using lemon zest in this cake too, though I have to admit I've never found it eggy. Though saying that, this is the basic cake that I usually use for other preparations, like with cream and jam or fruit or in a trifle - it's a great cake for these things precisely because it's so plain. Perhaps once it's cooled and rested (like the next day) it loses that? What do you think?

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6 months ago Yazoolulu

Indeed, I am happy to report that after resting a day, it was absolutely delicious and not eggy in the least. I am so glad to have this recipe - so easy and versatile. Thanks for sharing it!