Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Sponge Cake

Growing up, I always remembered my mom baking up a storm during Christmas time.  Christmas cookies were never really a staple, but cake definitely was.  She would also make delicious beverages like mauby, sorrel, and ginger beer.  There was one cake in particular that was my favorite; sponge cake (which is not actually a sponge cake, but rather a pound cake).  Anyhow, yesterday we had a gathering at the house and it definitely gave us a reason to start our Christmas baking! We decided to make two types of what Guyanese people call "Christmas" cake.  Read on to find out more! 

My brother decorated our tree this year, there were so many pretty ornaments, 
this is one of my favs.

Christmas cake is usually a sponge cake, fruit cake, or black cake. We made sponge cake and fruit cake (which will be my next post).  These are called "Christmas" cakes because it is during the Christmas holiday that these cakes are typically made and given away to family and friends.

Today's post is all about the sponge cake.  In my research I have discovered that the sponge cake is really a pound cake and all this time, Guyanese have been terming this cake something that it is not. This article by a fellow blogger, Cynthia Nelson will explain it all to you, click here to read more.  Cynthia discusses what makes a sponge cake a sponge cake and what makes a pound cake a pound cake.  It all has to do with the egg to flour ratio.  In a sponge cake, there is more egg than flour which allows it to have a very foamy, springy texture (think of angel cake here).  A pound cake has heavy fat content that comes from the butter, making it a pound cake, not a sponge cake. 

This is where my mom got the recipe.  It is an old Guyanese cookbook from 1973.  If I remember correctly, the book is called "What's cooking in Guyana." I even tried to look online to see if it is still being published and I couldn't come up with anything! She's had this cookbook for years, the cover didn't  stand a chance at survival.  I've taken some pictures for you, just in case you are curious...

Who would've thought of advertising in a cookbook?

I had to edit the recipe a bit since it was a very generic one. My mom typically uses light brown sugar when making her sponge cake.  I am telling you, you will not regret it, it's not too sweet and it stays soft for days (if it even lasts that long)! The milk also keeps this cake very moist.

Whisk the eggs separately and add a little at a time to the creamed mixture.  I used 1/2 lemon and orange zest, but start with 1/4 tsp each to suit your taste. Too must zest can overpower the flavors in a cake.

Oops!! I forgot to take a picture of the cinnamon! Add your cinnamon here. 

add 1 1/2 cups of flour, alternating with the milk

We ended up making more of this cake later in the day since we had to stuff so many treat bags, but I started with a smaller batch for this post.  You can double up on the recipe if you want to make enough to fit a 9X13in pan.  The batch I made fit a 9in round pan perfectly.

Christmas Sponge Cake
Serving: one 9 in round or square pan
  • 8oz salted butter/ 2 sticks (not margarine)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar or white granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 lemon zest (I used 1/2)
  • 1/4 orange zest (I used 1/2)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees while you mix the batter.
  2. Sift all dry ingredients together.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and light.
  4. Add eggs a little at a time.
  5. Add lemon zest, orange zest, and vanilla.
  6. Add a little bit of flour and mix into wet ingredients. Add a little milk and keep alternating flour and milk until it is all incorporated.  
  7. Butter and flour your pan and pour prepared mixture into pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. 
  9. Let cake cool before turning it onto a cake platter.
  • Bring butter, eggs, and milk to room temperature.
  • The reason you cannot add all the milk at once is because it will separate the creamed mixture you just created. So add a little flour mixture then milk then flour and so on. Stick your spoon or spatula in the center of the batter to see if it stands up. If it does, then your batter is ready, if it does not, then add a little more flour.
  • Everyone's oven temperature varies, so after 30 minutes, check your cake with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.  If there is still batter on the toothpick then leave the cake in for an additional 10 minutes.

The Packaging

 I bought these packaging items from Walmart for a total of $11, they were enough for 30 people

This was the 9X13 pan of sponge cake being cut up to put into the bags 

 Fruit cake, all wrapped up and ready to be bagged! 

into the bag...

I thought it was a cute idea to attach an ornament to the treat bags, so people could 
hang them on their x-mas tree when they got home

Merry Christmas!! 
Up next: Guyanese Fruitcake! 


  1. Christmas is really being celebrated on this blog! :)

    Your sponge/pound cake looks very moist!

    You know, that book is still in print, I have the current edition and the one before that. It is sold in Guyana and other Caribbean book stores. Here is the Amazon link for the book:

    Merry Christmas to you and the family.

  2. Thanks so much Cynthia! I will have to purchase the updated version for my mom and maybe one for me too ;) Merry Christmas to you and your family as well!

  3. I love your recipes & this blog always makes me feel to cook & bake! Luv it! Thanks for sharing your recipes!

  4. So it is a thumbs up from the family regarding this. The batter smelled and tasted delicious, a clear indicator that this was going to be a great tasting treat!

  5. Wonderful Recipe!! I'll Be Trying This Recipe Without Eggs For Temple And Let You Know How It Comes Out!
    I Have Been Testing All Black Cake Recipes That I Can Get A Hold Of -And Was Wondering If You Can Post The Black Cake Recipe On Your Blog. Just So I Can Test It Out For The Holiday Season! I Would Really Appreciate This!

  6. Hi Anonymous! Please email me at for a recipe for sponge cake without eggs! If you omit the eggs from this one it will not rise. I will also send you a black cake recipe when you email me. Thanks for visiting! :)

  7. I was looking for a basic cake recipe and this seems like a winner! My mom forgot the guyanese fruit cake recipe that she keeps locked in her head. I've tried many times to replicate it to no sucess. And wow, that cookbook is awesome. I'm so glad I stumbled across this blog! I can tell I'll be a fan =) Happy Holidays!

  8. Making this cake tomorrow or the next....thanks again for the recipe - Cindy P

  9. I made this today and it came out perfectly....was sooo good too. I think i ate half of it by myself, lol. Thank you for posting and keep the good work up.

  10. Hi Alicia,great recipe. I was wondering if I wanted to add some candied cherries to this recipe, will it make my dry? Do I need to increase the amount of milk the recipe calls for?



    1. Hi Preya,

      No it won't make it dry, just toss the cherries in some flour just to coat them, it will keep the cherries from sinking to the bottom.

  11. This cake looks so moist a delish, definitely gonna try this one .

  12. Made this cake for Christmas and although it was good, my cake was a little dry.

    It has nothing to do with the recipe (was in the shower and left the cake in the oven too long) but showing the recipe to other they said the butter and egg should be a 1:2. So will try it both ways. Again with this recipe, and then doing the 1 butter to 2 eggs.

    Just waiting for the colder months to come back.

    1. Hi Toni,

      I have tried it with 4 eggs and for me it has too much of an egg-y taste to it, but you may have a different experience :) Yes, try not to bake it too long, it will dry out. Merry Christmas and have fun baking!

  13. Hi Alicia

    I really enjoy reading your blogs as much of them brought back a lot of memories of my mom cooking all these wonderful Guyanese dishes.
    In the past, my mom would make the sponge cake for our birthdays, sometimes at christmas too. Reading your blog about this, it's totally different from how my mom makes hers. Your recipe didn't say how long to beat the eggs to get the airy feel of the eggs. I'm surprised to see only 1 and 1/2 cup flour used for this cake... it looks small.

    The way my mom makes, oh my goodness, it was a lot of work. She would weigh each ingredient by 1 pound. One lb of flour, one lb of butter, and one lb of sugar. Mix the butter with sugar until finely creamed. She would have my brother or me to mix 12 eggs (omg) for exactly 20 minutes. I think after 15 minutes of beating, she would put a peel of orange skin (didn't have to grate it) in the egg. Then after that, she would mix the butter mixture with the flour until well mixed, then finally add in the egg for final mix. I might be forgetting some other small ingredients she added in there. But the sponge cake always came out delicious and soft!

    But thank you so much for doing this as it always make me feel good about my Guyanese culture and food!!

    1. Hi Abi,

      Thanks for leaving such a detailed comment! Glad to have brought back memories of cooking with your mom, days we will always remember! Based on the number of eggs, it sounds like the batter your mom whipped up made more than one cake, this recipe only makes only one 9in round pan. It looks like the main thing your mom did differently is add the egg last vs. adding the flour mixture last. Very interesting! I'll be doing a lot of holiday baking this season so I will certainly give her method a try. Oh, I forgot to mention, you are correct, I didn't say how long to beat the eggs only because everyone may be using a different vessel for mixing ex. whipping eggs or creaming anything for 20 min using a kitchen aid stand mixer vs a hand held mixer will yield different volumes. Some people still prefer using a whisk the whole way through so it's more important these days I think, to look for the texture of the batter/eggs vs. the time, hopefully that made sense! Again, thanks for your comments and I will be sure to follow up here and let you know how the cake turned out using your mom's variation in method :).


  14. Iove reading the above and looking at the book! Wow I must say keep the book safe!

  15. Hi Alicia, thanks so much for sharing all of your great recipes. I have tried a number if new things my mom doesn't normally make and they come out yum especially the patties and cheese rolls. They are defintely a crowd pleaser! I'm making a batch of cupcakes today using this sponge cake recipe.. it's in the oven and I hope it comes in great! I made this sponge cake for Christmas and it came out very dry I think I left it in the oven for longer than I shouldve so I will try again...but thanks again!!

    1. Hi Mandy, thanks and glad you are enjoying the recipes. How long are you baking the cupcakes for? I've never tried this recipe for cupcakes so do let me know how it goes!

  16. Hi Alicia, thanks so much for sharing all of your great recipes. I have tried a number if new things my mom doesn't normally make and they come out yum especially the patties and cheese rolls. They are defintely a crowd pleaser! I'm making a batch of cupcakes today using this sponge cake recipe.. it's in the oven and I hope it comes in great! I made this sponge cake for Christmas and it came out very dry I think I left it in the oven for longer than I shouldve so I will try again...but thanks again!!

  17. I'm from South Ruimveldt Park and miss my moms sponge cake terribly! I'm gonna try your recipe!

  18. Hi Thanks for the recipe, I married a Guyanese so I'm trying this out for the first time. What happens if your spoon/spatula doesn't stand up in your mix, I added a-lot (alot) more flour and it still wouldn't stand for long, i didnt want to overmix it.
    Thanks in advance

  19. What kind of flour should I use? All purpose or cake? And its vanilla extract I'm assuming?

    1. Hello, all-purpose flour and yes, you are correct - it's vanilla extract.

  20. What kind of flour should I use? All purpose or cake? And its vanilla extract I'm assuming?

  21. Thanks for sharing your recipe! It's easy to follow and well it's yummy. Trying my hand at a traditional Christmas cake after many years. I can't wait to share with my family and friends

  22. Just tried this...I think it maybe needs a little more flour as mine came out with a line at the bottom where the butter settled. Granted I used margerine, white sugar and 2tsp of Orange juice instead of orange zest (did not have any). But the taste is great! Exactly what I was looking for...definitely keeping this one!

  23. Thanks for all the great recipes, I've tried quite a few. For the sponge cake can you use cake flour? Thanks Bee!