Warm-Method Sponge Cake

Warme Biskuittorte

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Preparation info

  • Makes


    9 inch cake
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague


By Rick Rodgers

Published 2002

  • About

Many fancy tortes start with classic sponge cake. For a soft, flexible cake that will be flavored with a soaking liquid or can be baked in a jelly-roll pan to make a roulade, the whole eggs and sugar are heated over hot water until very hot. Most recipes use a six-egg batter, but some require the four- or eight-egg recipes, which follow.

Some sponge cake recipes skip butter altogether, but I use a small amount to add flavor and a bit of extra firmness (but not so much that it hardens when refrigerated). To give the butter more flavor, allow it to brown slightly during melting, and leave the milk solids behind in the saucepan when pouring it out.

Take care when folding the flour into the beaten eggs; the flour should be completely incorporated without lumping. The best folding utensil for sponge cake is a large balloon whisk with thin wires, used just like a spatula, allowing the batter and flour to flow through the wires. If you are using a heavy-duty mixer to beat the eggs (by far the best method), the whisk attachment can be detached and held to manually fold in the flour. A large rubber spatula is another option, but a whisk works best.

It is not always necessary to trim off the top crust of the cake. In some tortes, when the cake layers are going to be soaked with syrup, this crust can act as insulation to keep the syrup from seeping out. In this case, place the top cake layer, crust side down, in the pan being used for molding the torte.

The batter works equally well with either cake or all-purpose flour. Cake flour makes a slightly more tender cake.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 cup sifted cake or all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt


  1. To make the cake, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle the inside of the pan with flour, coating evenly and tapping out the excess flour.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the butter to a boil over medium heat. Cook for about 1 minute, just until the specks of milk solids in the butter are lightly browned. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the top, and then pour into a medium bowl, leaving the browned bits behind in the pan. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing heavy-duty electric mixer (or large heatproof bowl). Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl; see photograph 1). Using a large balloon whisk, stir the mixture until the eggs are very warm to the touch and the sugar is dissolved (rub a bit of the egg mixture between your fingers to check for grains of sugar). Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the whisk. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is tripled in volume and very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes (see photograph 2). (If using a hand mixer, allow about 5 minutes to reach this consistency.)
  4. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half of the flour over the eggs. Using the balloon whisk, fold in the flour, leaving a few visible wisps of flour. Sift the remaining flour over the batter and fold it in. Whisk a large dollop of the batter into the melted butter. Fold this mixture into the batter. Pour into the pan and smooth the top.
  5. Bake until the top springs back when pressed in the center and the sides are barely beginning to shrink from the pan, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan, invert onto the rack, and remove the bottom of the pan and the paper. Reinvert the cake onto another rack, right side up. Cool completely.

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