Sarah Hardy’s sponge cake recipe

Best Sponge cake recipe – for stacking and carving and tastes great too


This recipe is great for carving. It is a combination of very tasty, stable to sculpt and not too sweet. As a professional I have honed this recipe over years as I carve cakes, big and small, for clients from celebrities to big brands. Just imagine, Mick Jagger and family ate this very same recipe in zombie form!

The sponge should not be too sweet as we will be adding frosting and coverings too, and the overall taste should be balanced.

Makes one  25.5cm x 37cm (10” x 14.5”) sheet of cake which you can bake in a roasting tin like this for instance. Just grease and line it as you would a cake tin.

(Not the most inspiring picture I know but many people get confused when I mention this tin thing…)

Vanilla Sponge

  • 600g/21oz Salted butter
  • 600g/21oz Caster Sugar
  • 12 Medium Free Range Eggs (room temperature)
  • 600g/21oz Self Raising Flour
  • 4 Vanilla pods – seeds of

Lemon or Orange Sponge

  • Replace vanilla seeds with zest of 6 lemons or oranges

Chocolate Sponge

  • Add 150g/5oz melted dark chocolate to the creamed butter & sugar mix
  • Replace the flour with 450g/16oz Self Raising Flour mixed with 150g/5oz Cocoa Powder


  1. Preheat Oven to 160°C fan (325°F).
  2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla seeds until pale and fluffy (this is where many people go wrong – it needs to be really well creamed, my stand mixer with paddle attachment is on for around 5mins at med speed for this).
  3. Beat eggs lightly in another bowl and add to the mix on medium speed a small amount at a time. Make sure each addition is completely combined before adding the next.  Add a little flour if it curdles.
  4. Once the eggs are combined, mix in the flour at your slowest speed. Stop your machine as soon as it is mixed as you don’t want to knock any air out of your mix.
  5. Pour into your tin and gently smooth it flat.
  6. Bake for around 40 mins depending on your oven – test it with wooden cocktail stick or skewer. If it comes out clean the bake is done.
  7. Cool on wire rack and wrap in grease proof paper then foil and rest in a cool place over night.
  8. You can brush syrup onto your cooled cakes to match your cake flavours if you like but don’t drench them because if you want to stack and carve cakes they need to be structurally sound.