KitchenTigress: Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes

Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes

My sponge cupcakes are fluffy and moist. I use a combination of oil, milk, glucose and sugar to stop them from drying out in the oven.

I whisk whole eggs, along with sugar and a bit of glucose, till the ribbon stage, i.e. when I lift the whisk, a "ribbon" falls in a steady stream and sits on top of the mixture without sinking.

The eggs are now thick, with some air bubbles visible. To make the crumb as fine as possible, I whisk slowly till the eggs are smooth and not bubbly anymore. This takes a few minutes.

Next, I sift cake flour into the mixture in 2 lots. The flour sits nicely on the eggs. It doesn't sink like it's in quicksand because it's evenly spread out.

After adding each lot of flour, I mix it with the eggs using a whisk. The objective here is not to mix evenly. I just want to quickly spread out the flour into the eggs so that it doesn't clump and form lumps.

I have to stir gently, without the whisk touching the bottom of the bowl at all.

The bottom half of the eggs is undisturbed, so it has no chance of deflating. It acts as the support for the top half, and prevents that from deflating as it's being mixed.

Time to add wet ingredients. Milk, oil and vanilla extract are stirred together, then gently drizzled around the bowl so that some of the mixture – the more the better – sits on the batter.

Next, I mix a bit with a whisk, gently and quickly spread out the amount that hasn't sunk and disappeared from view. Again, the whisk doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl.

I now have an uneven batter, right? I switch to a spatula and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then I fold the batter, scraping the bottom of the bowl, and I keep folding till I don't see any oil or flour.

I now have an evenly mixed batter that's full of tiny air bubbles. That's important because deflated batter makes cupcakes that are dense and hard.

In the oven, the batter sets quickly because it's very light and airy. I have to move the cakes closer to the oven's top heat for the last 5 minutes of baking. Otherwise, they wouldn't brown in time.

My cupcakes are great plain. But they're even better with some buttercream icing.

How to make vanilla sponge cupcakes

Step-by-step guide

A combination of oil, milk, glucose and sugar stop these cupcakes from drying out in the oven. Glucose helps make them extra light and fluffy.

vanilla sponge  cupcakes
(For 8 cupcakes)

  • 100 g eggs
  • 6 g glucose
  • 40 g castor sugar
  • 40 g cake flour
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 10 g full-fat milk
  • 30 g corn oil – add to milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract – add to milk and corn oil
  • 50 g sugar
  • 30 g egg white
  • 85 g unsalted butter, slightly soft

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place paper liners in 8 muffin cups. Place muffin cups on baking tray. (Paper or cardboard moulds are good too. This recipe isn't fussy about what it's baked in.)

  2. TO MAKE CUPCAKES, whisk eggs, glucose and castor sugar till ribbon stage, i.e. mixture is pale and, when whisk is lifted, drips back into bowl and stays visible.

  3. Sift half of cake flour into egg mixture, moving sieve around bowl so that flour isn't clumped in one area. Gently stir just top part of eggs with whisk, till you see only a bit of flour. Sift remaining half of flour as before. Add salt. Repeat gentle mixing, this time till you don't see any flour.

  4. Stir milk, oil and vanilla extract till well mixed. Gently drizzle mixture around bowl. Mix with whisk till you don't see any oil, again stirring just top part of batter. Using spatula, scrape down thoroughly and fold till just evenly mixed. Divide batter equally between muffin cups, i.e. 27 g each.

  5. Bake 10 minutes on middle shelf till batter is risen. Transfer to upper-middle shelf. Continue baking till golden brown and slightly springy when pressed, another 5 minutes or so.

  6. Remove cakes to wire rack. Wait 5 minutes. Unmould. Serve whilst warm and top is slightly crusty. Alternatively, leave till cool and serve topped with buttercream.

  7. TO MAKE BUTTERCREAM, cook egg white and sugar over low heat, whisking constantly and checking from time to time if sugar is melted by rubbing drop of mixture between fingers.

  8. When sugar is just melted, whisk on high speed mixture till thick, glossy and cold. Add half of butter. Whisk on high speed till well combined. Add remaining butter. Whisk on high speed till mixture is stiff.
  9. Pipe or spread on cupcakes as desired. Recipe makes enough for frosting 16 cupcakes, or 8 if you're a pig.