What is the difference between sponge cake and sponge cake?
Genoise is, like the mother sauces of French cuisine, the ancestor of many variations. The oldest and most essential sponge cake recipe was included in “The English wife“, a 17th century book on cooking, brewing, distilling and general housekeeping by the poet Gervase Markham. It calls for flour, sugar and eggs, whole and yellow, spiced with anise seed and cilantro, all beaten to incorporate a good amount of air, which, along with the heat of baking, allows the cake to rise (via baker’s skin).
From the humble sponge cake were born many children. For example, the French-Italian version is known as Gateau Genoise and, as explained Epicurious, it is the addition of fat in the form of butter. This can weigh down what is normally a very delicate dough, so extra egg yolks are added for structure and support.
Perhaps one of the best-known versions of sponge cake, at least in the United States, is angel food cake, which is suitable as it was invented in the United States. A calorie-conscious favorite, says Martha Stewartangel food cake eschews fat in the form of butter and egg yolks to produce a delicate, airy crumb of whipped egg whites, sugar and flour with the occasional addition of cream of tartar.