Guyanese Sponge cake, is a rich yellow cake that is very similar to pound cake or birthday cake. It is often made colorful with multi-colored swirls of food coloring and mostly enjoyed at birthdays and at Christmas.
I have such fond memories of my mother making this sponge cake in Guyana. She made it for all of our birthdays and sometimes for our school Christmas parties. My mom also made sponge cake at Christmas time when baking seem to span over weekends and all of her sisters came by to bake bread, black cake, fruit cake and sponge cake. Those are some of the best memories from my childhood.
It is so important to me that my children have similar memories of traditions around food. Whenever I can insert a Guyanese recipe into a moment, I do. This Guyanese style sponge cake is the cake I make when my children ask to bake a cake. Instead of a box cake I let them help me whip this beauty up. On occasion we'll add food coloring, each child owning a particular color. It is amazing to watch their reaction when the cake is cut open and they see the colors they worked on.
About the Sponge Cake Recipe:
The recipe I am sharing in today's post is from my Aunty Cheryl who (in my opinion) is one of the best baker, chef, creator, in my family. I almost always turn to her when I am struggling to figure out a recipe. Most often she actually has measurements and don't give me the, I don't measure speech!
And let me say that non Guyanese people reading these ingredients, might say this sounds like a pound cake and it really is. Not sure why we call it sponge cake, except that it looks like "old school" sponges.
Step by Step Video Tutorial:
This video features my son Andrew as he is helping me with the ingredients. Generally this recipe makes two 8 inch round sponge cakes. But I explained in the video that my son picked the pan out and there was no convincing him to change his mind. It worked out perfectly and the cake was a huge success. The measurements are actually really easy to half and make one cake if you don't want this much cake. That's typically what I do when I make it with the kids.
Ingredients and substitutions
Butter: Start with room temperature butter for this recipe. It makes a difference in how the sugar and butter creams together. To make this dairy free I use dairy free butter. Earth balance and country crock vegan butter are two of my favorite butter substitutes.
Egg: I also use room temperature eggs in this recipe. I just take my eggs out an hour or so before I need to bake and let them sit on the counter. You can also just put your eggs in some warm water while you measure out your ingredients and it will be just as good.
Sugar: I've also tried this recipe with coconut sugar and it works as a cup to cup substitute, however the cake is really dark in color because of the coconut sugar.
Adding the color swirls (marble) to the batter Step by Step
- Separate the batter into 3 equal parts. Then add 3 drops of gel food coloring with the color your choice and mix together well. Add more color for darker color pay out but remember it will darken as it bakes.
2. Add dollops of the uncolored batter, followed by pats of the colored patter to a 9x13 baking pan. Then using the handle of a wooden spoon swirl to make a marble effect in the batter. If you wanted to have an element of surprise you could divide the batter into 4. Color two and leave two portions uncolored. Then add the two colored batter and one uncolored batter to the pan. Swirl, then top with the remaining uncolored batter, smoothing the batter to cover the top completely. Once it bakes you would only see the marble once you cut into the cake.
3. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. You could also bake this cake at 325°F for an hour and a really soft cake.
4. Cut into it for that beautiful colored marble effect! Depending on how you added the batter you will see either even bits of color or big chunks.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make this egg free? Yes. You can substitute the eggs in this recipe for ½ cup of unsweetened apple sauce and 1 cup of milk. Or ½ cup of apple sauce, ½ cup of yogurt and ½ cup of milk.
- What size pan should I use? This recipe makes two 8 inch x 3 inch pans or 1 9 inch by 13 inch sheet cake pan.
- Can I add Maraschino cherries to this recipe? Yes. Do what you like. I don't like maraschino cherries in cake so I didn't add any to this one.
- Is the rum in this recipe really necessary. No, it's optional. My aunt did it and so I do it. That's all.
Printable Recipe Card
Guyanese Style Sponge Cake
- 1 lb butter room temperature
- 1 lb granulated sugar
- 10 eggs room temperature
- 1 lb flour sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 teaspoon almond essence optional
- zest of one navel orange
- 1 teaspoon rum optional
- Preheat oven to 350 °F
- Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy and most of the sugar crystals have dissolved
- Add eggs one as a time and mix into the creamed sugar and butter
- Then add baking powder to the flour and sift together
- Next add sifted flour, ½ cup at a time to the creamed butter, sugar and egg mixture and slowly mix together forming a smooth batter.
- Add vanilla essence, orange zest and rum (if using)
- Pour mixture into a greased bundt cake pan or two 8 inch round pans
- Place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a wooden skewer or tooth pick comes out clean (free of batter) when inserted into the cake
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing from the baking pan
- For best results use room temperature butter. It makes the creaming process easier and helps the batter to be fluffier. Room temperature eggs are also great in the recipe. If I plan to make this I leave the eggs and the butter out over night. If I am doing it spur of the moment, I microwave the butter a little (not the best, but it works) and drop the eggs (shell on) in some warm water.
- To add color to this cake, divide the batter into 3 then add 3-5 drops of food coloring of your choice to two of the three portions of batter. Then add the batter into a greased baking pan. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, swirl to make a marble pattern. Then bake.
- Adding the rum to the batter might be new to most but I promise you it makes the cake fresher longer. Give it a try and tell me what you think!