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A vintage recipe from the 1800's for sponge cake made with a bread sponge starter, plump raisins, spices, and flour. *This recipe has been updated on Sept. 13, 2019 from the original recipe posted Jan. 27, 2011.
I made my Great Grandmother Stauber's vintage Sponge Cake recipe from her handwritten recipe collection. The results are a moist, delicious, sweet and flavorful cake made with a simple yeast starter sponge made from flour, yeast and water.
There are no oven temperature settings in the original recipe. Back in the early 1900's they didn't have oven temperatures included in recipes (just low, moderate and hot), so I had to figure out what setting would do best for this cake. I ended up baking the cake at a moderate 350 degrees for one hour. Cooking and baking were clearly trial and error back then.
What Pans Work Best For Baking?
Different baking pans yield different results, so I wanted to quickly highlight the benefits of different cooking vessels to help you decide on the best pan for the job.
A good multi-purpose baking pan is a good quality metal pan that conducts heat well, such as aluminum. Aluminum pans are typically the go-to pan for a lot of professional bakers.
Glass pans are great insulators, which slows the flow of heat between the batter and the circulating air in the oven. This can prolong the cooking time and usually calls for a lower cooking temperature. If the oven temperature is too high with a glass pan, you can end up with a well-done edge and sunken center. If you go with glass, lower the cooking temperature 25 degrees and allow a little more baking time. Think "low and slow" for glass.
Finally, there are stoneware baking pans, which are my personal favorite. The only caution is that stoneware pans aren't created equal. They can vary greatly in the composition of the clay and the manufacturing process. I use stoneware from Pampered Chef (throwback to ALL the Pampered Chef parties) and get perfect baking results every time.
How To Make Sponge Cake Fluffy
I actually enjoy experimenting with baking recipes to get the best results. Baking is a form of culinary art that takes practice and patience.
The secret sauce to this sponge cake is the bread sponge that rested for 24 hours. You know it's ready when it's good and bubbly. Don't be intimidated by this step. I promise, it's super easy.
How To Make Cinnamon Raisin Sponge Cake
Ingredients You'll Need:
1 cup of bread sponge
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup whole milk
1 stick butter
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp soda
Flour to stiffen (½ to 1 cup)
1 cup raisins
*I had to research what "sweet milk" was and this is what I found: sweet milk is fresh milk that had to sit at room temperature for several hours. The cream came to the top, and you skimmed that cream off the top and churned the cream.
That separated the butterfat from the milk to make real home butter. What was left with flecks of butter in it was buttermilk. So the term sweet milk referred to milk just milked from the cow. It had the butterfat and all in it.
After churning and getting the butter out, it had turned sour and made buttermilk. So the term sweet milk was just the whole milk before any processing had occurred, then it became sour/ buttermilk. Therefore, I used whole milk.
First, let the butter come to room temperature. Cream butter and sugar. Add the egg. Blend until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and ½ cup of flour. Add to mixture, alternating with the milk on low speed.
Add Bread Sponge. The texture should be very elastic. If the texture seems too thin, add the remaining ½ cup of flour (I did add the extra ½ cup of flour, making it 1 cup total).
Stir in raisins.
Mix gently on low to incorporate all ingredients.
Place mixture into a large bowl, cover and let it sit for one hour at room temperature. Pour into a greased bread pan or large cake pan. You can use a light coating of olive oil or butter.
Bake at 350 for one hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Slice and serve. This sponge cake is delicious with a little homemade whipped cream on top!
My Great Grandmother would be proud. She commented "this is fine" on this recipe and I hope she's listening from above when I say, that I couldn't agree more. Just look at how moist the bottom layer on this cake turns out!
The texture of this cake is to-die-for. You get a slightly crunchy top, moist cake, and an ooey-gooey bottom layer.
This sponge cake would be amazing for the holidays. Pre-soak the raisins in bourbon for an extra delicious treat.
Cinnamon Raisin Sponge Cake Recipe
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 4 oz. unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cloves
- 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour divided
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 cup of bread sponge
- 1 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Mix on medium-high speed to cream the ingredients together.
- Add the egg and mix on medium speed until smooth.
- In a bowl, whisk together ½ cup flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Add flour mixture and milk to butter/sugar mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Add prepared bread sponge and mix gently on low to incorporate all ingredients. The texture of the prepared sponge should be very elastic. If the mixture seems too thin, add the remaining ½ cup of flour (I used the full cup). Stir in raisins.
- Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit for one hour at room temperature.
- Pour into a greased bread loaf pan or 9-inch cake pan.
- Bake for one hour. Cake is cooked when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove pan from oven and place on wire rack to cool, then slice and serve. This would be delicious with a little homemade whipped cream on top.