Traditional sponge cake is naturally dairy-free, and made simply with eggs, sugar, and flour. The eggs do all the heavy lifting, so no baking soda or baking powder is needed. And no fats are used either. Dairy-free sponge cake is a little denser than angel food cake, since you use both the egg yolks and whites (no waste!), but it’s still relatively light and fluffy.
Basic Dairy-Free Sponge Cake, Ready for Your Favorite Toppings
This particular version is a biscuit sponge cake, because the sugar is blended into both the whites and the yolks for a cake that holds its shape a little better. Classic sponge cake doesn’t contain any added flavors, because it’s intended to be a base for toppings and flavors. But I have various tips, suggestions, and flavor options in the FAQs below.
Can I Make this Recipe Egg-Free?
It just won’t be like a traditional sponge cake if you use an egg alternative. This type of cake requires too many eggs for a seamless swap. Aquafaba is the best substitute option, but it will result in a cake that’s a little denser, and more gummy in texture. Aquafaba doesn’t add the richness of egg yolks.
Can I Use an Another Sweetener?
I haven’t tested it with other sweeteners. Another granulated type of sugar should work fine, but might affect the texture and taste a little. If using a liquid sweetener, you would want to use less, but I’m not sure on the quantity that would be best. Sugar-free sweeteners are supposed to bake like sugar, but I haven’t tested any in this dairy-free sponge cake.
Can I Use Just All-Purpose Flour?
I don’t recommend it for the best texture. As noted, you can use all-purpose flour with a little cornstarch to create a cake flour consistency. If you avoid corn, arrowroot starch should work fine.
Will this Work as a Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Sponge Cake?
In theory, it should work with your favorite 1:1 gluten-free flour blend. I wouldn’t use a single flour, and definitely do not try to substitute a nut flour or coconut flour. Use a grain-based flour blend if testing. Egg heavy baked goods tend to fair well with gluten-free flour blend, but the results can vary based on the type you choose. I have a friend who swears by King Arthur, but I haven’t tested it in this recipe.
Why is there No Oil or Butter in Sponge Cake?
There are various types of cakes. Like angel food cake, classic sponge cake doesn’t contain added fats. If you add butter that makes it a butter cake, and if you add oil that makes it a chiffon cake!
How Should I Top Dairy-Free Sponge Cake
- Top or layer the cake with dairy-free coconut whipped cream or store-bought whip and fresh fruit. Add strawberry sauce for a fancier dessert.
- Drizzle flavored syrup or liqueur over the cake (poking holes is optional). It’s called sponge cake for good reason. It soaks up flavors like a sponge!
- Serve topped with seasonal fruit and dairy-free creme anglaise.
- Bake the cake in a jelly roll pan and use it as the base for a dairy-free jelly roll cake. You will need to reduce the baking time, which can range from 12 to 20 minutes.
- Enjoy it as a classic two layer dairy-free sponge cake with jam filling and dairy-free frosting.
- Simply dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar. It’s still pretty darn good on its own!
Special Diet Notes: Basic Dairy-Free Sponge Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, oil-free, and vegetarian. If you confuse eggs with dairy, you’re not alone! See this post: Are Eggs Dairy?.
- 6 eggs
- ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar (see Note below)
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 cup cake flour (see All-Purpose Option below)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F, and cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Separate the eggs, putting the whites in large mixing bowl and the yolks in a small mixing bowl.
- Add the cream of tartar and ½ cup sugar to the whites and beat with a mixer or hand mixer (you can use a whisk, but it's a workout!) until stiff peaks form.
- Add the remaining ½ cup sugar to the yolks and beat or whisk until very thick and light yellow in color.
- Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.
- Gently fold in the flour, ⅓ cup at a time, until combined. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into your prepared cake pans.
- Bake the cakes for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool for a few minutes in the pans, before carefully removing them and taking off the parchment paper. Let the cakes cool completely.
All Purpose Flour Option: Substitute ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch for the cake flour. Thoroughly whisk the two ingredients together before adding to the recipe.