Cauvain Sponge Cake Technology

CAUVAIN, S.P. and YOUNG, L.S. (2000) Bakery Food Manufacture and Quality:

Water control and effects, Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK. TELLOKE, G.W. (1984) The mixing of cake batters. FMBRA Report No. 114, CCFRA, Chipping Campden, UK.

3.7 We are making 'all-butter' cakes but find that after baking they lack volume and have a firm eating character. Why is this and is there any way to improve the cake quality?

Butter is often chosen in cakemaking because of its quality attributes related to flavour and mouthfeel, and its potential marketing value through the association with 'naturalness' and 'quality'. However, while a 'natural' product, butter can be the subject of natural quality variations and has characteristics that are not always best suited to cakemaking.

Butter is a mixture of butter oils, water and salt. The level of water must not exceed 16% and salt levels do not exceed 2% of the total butter weight. Thus if butter is used to replace an oil or bakery shortening then the level of addition should be increased to about 1.2 times the recipe shortening level. A weight for weight replacement of shortening with butter will therefore result in a lower fat level in the recipe which will reduce batter aeration and cake volume. Butter oils and butterfats are available which can be used on a one for one replacement basis because they do not contain water (Rajah, 1997).

Generally the ability of butter to contribute to batter aeration and thus cake volume is inferior to bakery shortenings or cake margarines . This is because the SFI at 20 °C for butter is lower than that generally recommended for use in cakemaking; typically around 24% of a fat should be solid at 20 °C. Butter SFIs at 20 °C vary according to the butter's source, in part because of differences and changes in feeding habits of the cows.

The tempering of butter can improve its functionality in cakemaking. We suggest that you hold the butter between 28 and 30 °C for 18-20 h before use. This tempering period permits a beneficial increase in the crystal size of the solid fractions in the butter. You should ensure that full equilibration of temperature has taken place because often the slabs of butter may be stored on a pallet or in a large block which slows down the rate of heat penetration to the centre of the stack.

Considerable improvements in cake volume, softness and eating quality can be obtained by adding a low level of glycerol monostearate (GMS) to the batter. GMS is more effective than butter at stabilising the foam structure of a cake batter. We suggest the addition of a level of 1% (GMS solids) of the total batter weight. The GMS should be in the alpha form and may be added as a stabilised gel.


RAJAH, K.K. (1997) Cream, butter and milk fat products, in The Technology of Cake Making (ed. A.J. Bent), Blackie Academic & Professional, London, UK, pp. 48-80.

3.8 We have been using oil in the production of our sponge cakes but we wish to change to using butter. How can we do this?

There are two courses of action open to you: either melt the butter and add it as a warm oil or add it in the solid form.

The practice of melting fats to incorporate them into sponge batters has been known for some time. The traditional 'butter sponge' utilises a basic sponge recipe to which the melted butter is added after all of the other ingredients at the end of the mixing process. The butter should be heated only until it is just liquid, otherwise the hot oil may increase the batter temperature high enough to cause a premature reaction of the baking powder. You may find some benefit in using a little more baking powder in the formulation to compensate for any losses that may occur. If you are not already doing so you may find some advantage in the addition of a suitable emulsifier to the formulation.

If you are going to use the butter in the solid form we certainly recommend the addition of an emulsifier to the formulation otherwise you will not achieve the product volume that you are seeking. You may experience some difficulty in dispersing the butter and so it may be better to use an all-in mixing method. You may also wish to adjust the baking powder level in the formulation.

If you wish to make any claim regarding the use the term 'butter' as part of the baked product descriptor you will need to ensure that the level of added butter conforms to the following Code of Practice in the UK:

• At least 5% butterfat for the claim 'contains'.

• 100% for the claim ' made with butter' or the descriptor ' butter sponge' .

3.9 We wish to produce a softer eating sponge cake and have been trying to add fat or oil but cannot get the quality we are seeking. Is the addition of fat to sponge batters possible and what do we need to do to achieve the quality we are seeking?

In a traditional sponge recipe composed of flour, sugar and egg the mixing action of the whisk draws small air bubbles into the batter during mixing. The egg proteins, principally the lipoproteins, align themselves at the interface of the air bubbles with the aqueous phase. At the interface they provide stability to the air bubbles and prevent them from rising to the batter surface and escaping to the atmosphere.

This bubble stabilisation of the batter 'foam' is particularly important in the early stages of baking when the increase in temperature increases the tendency of the air bubbles to rise. Later, during baking, the solid part of the foam begins to set, the gas bubbles begin to burst and the gases diffuse out leaving behind a sponge structure (here the term ' sponge' is used in the generic sense, referring to a structure in which the individual cells are interconnected and gases and liquids may diffuse through the matrix).

When oils or solid fats are added to a traditional sponge batter they inhibit the inclusion of air into the batter and displace the egg proteins at the gas bubble/ aqueous phase interface. This change allows many of the gas bubbles to escape from the batter, especially during baking when any solid fat is turning to liquid oil. The result is that the mechanical aeration is much reduced and the resultant cake volume is small. For these reasons many traditional methods of producing sponge cakes encourage the scalding of the mixing bowl to remove any traces of fat before the start of mixing.

Oils or fats may be added to sponge cakes to improve the eating quality by carefully blending them into the batter towards the end of mixing. In the case of fats which are solid at bakery temperature it is advisable to heat the fat until it is liquid.

Alternatively you can add an emulsifier, such as GMS, to the sponge formulation to take over the main air bubble stabilising role from the egg proteins. The level of addition needs to be sufficiently high to ensure that bubble stability is maintained during baking up to the point of conversion from foam to sponge (Cauvain and Cyster, 1996). Oils are more suitable for the production of enriched sponges though the addition of solid fat is possible but sponge cake volume and texture are less satisfactory (Cauvain and Cyster, 1977).


CAUVAIN, S.P. and CYSTER, J.A. (1977) The effect of fat on sponge cake quality. FMBRA Bulletin No. 5, October, 171-176, CCFRA, Chipping Campden, UK.

CAUVAIN, S.P. and CYSTER, J.A. (1996) Sponge cake technology. CCFRA Review No. 2, CCFRA, Chipping Campden, UK.

3.10 We are making a non-dairy cream cake and find that after some days a 'soggy' layer forms at the interface of the cake and the cream. We have balanced the water activity of the cake and cream but still see the problem and so we believe that this comes from fat migration from the cream. Are we correct?

There are two possible causes for the formation of a soggy layer at the interface of the cake and cream: one is related to moisture migration and the other as you correctly assume comes from fat migration. Both moisture and fat migration can occur and so we must consider that your problem may be related to a combination of the two effects. However, since you have balanced water component activities we can assume that most of the seepage comes from the migration of fat.

The mobility of a composite fat or shortening depends on its oil content at any given temperature since only the liquid component can flow downwards under the influence of gravity. Thus, we would expect that the problem would be worse when using fats with lower solids contents. To minimise the problem we suggest that you use a fat with a higher solids fat content provided that this does not give you problems with aeration of the fat during whipping or an unacceptably greasy mouthfeel.

Fat seepage is affected by the product storage temperature (see Fig. 9). The higher the storage temperature, the greater the proportion of a given fat that is

Moisture i i-

Storage Temperature

Fig. 9 Fat and moisture seepage in non-dairy cream cakes.

liquid and so the greater the risk of seepage. Variations in storage humidity on the other hand have very little effect on fat seepage though small increases have been observed as the storage humidity increases (Cauvain and Young, 2000).

Fat seepage is affected by the degree to which the cream has been aerated with seepage being greater as the cream specific volume increases (Cauvain and Young, 2000). You may wish to limit your cream specific volume or reduce your overall fat content.


CAUVAIN, S.P. and YOUNG, L.S. (2000) Bakery Food Manufacture and Quality: Water control and effects, Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK.

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