Sponge cake vs Pound cake

Sponge Cake vs Pound Cake: What is the Difference?

Have you ever wondered why cakes have different textures? There are more varieties of cakes than you could possibly eat in a lifetime! The most popular cakes you’ll be making as a home baker or ones you see in bakeries or shops will either have a sponge cake or pound cake base. These two types of cakes are very similar and are both irresistible. 

Sponge cake is what it says on the tin, it’s a spongy, fluffy and very light cake. Pound cake on the other hand is a much denser sponge. They have similar but distinct ingredients: traditional sponge cakes are made with flour, eggs, and sugar, whereas pound cakes include butter.  

So, if you want to find out the difference between sponge cake vs pound cake, keep reading!

Sponge Cake

The sponge cake is a type of “foam cake.” It is loved across the world and one of the most popular types of cakes to make, presumably due to the simplicity of its ingredients. Eggs, flour and sugar are the main ingredients of a sponge cake, which is also occasionally leavened with baking powder. While some sponge cakes, like angel food cake, only use egg whites, the majority of sponge cakes use whole eggs.


Gervase Markham’s The English Huswife (1615) contains the first documented sponge cake recipe in English. The sponge cake is regarded to be one of the earliest non-yeasted cakes. The cake was thin and crispy, much like a cracker during this time. When bakers began using beaten eggs as a raising agent in the middle of the 18th century, sponge cakes evolved into the cake we know and love today as light and airy. 

In 1843, the invention of baking powder by English food entrepreneur Alfred Bird let us add butter to the traditional recipe of the sponge cake resulting in the birth of the Victoria sponge.

Since the cake was so adaptable, it quickly gained popularity. The basic idea of a light, fluffy cake spread throughout most of the Western world, where different regions created their own versions. The French Genoise and American chiffon cakes are examples of regional adaptations.

How is it made?

Sponge cakes are made with an egg foam that contains egg yolks. Whisking eggs integrates air bubbles to create an airy batter by agitating the protein albumen to create a partially coagulated membrane, stiffening and increasing the volume of the eggs. Typically, whole egg foams are used, but in some cases, egg whites and yolks are separated. The base foam is made from yolk foam, then an egg white foam is folded in at the end of the process.

To simplify it, sponge cakes are made in two basic steps:

  • Sugar and eggs are whipped to a thick foam, and
  • Flour that has been sifted is folded in.

To prevent the air bubbles from deflating, ingredients must be carefully mixed.

Popular Sponge Cakes

Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria Sponge

This delicious sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria and is the epitome of British desserts. It is a two-layer cake made with egg , flour, butter and sugar. The layers are sandwiched together with strawberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar.

Swiss Roll

A swiss roll is a thin sponge cake wherein a layer of filling is spread and then rolled. It is made with eggs, flour and sugar. The cake is usually rolled in parchment paper and sliced.

Swiss roll - Sponge cake

Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake uses egg white foam as its base and contains no fat. Egg whites and baking powder are the leaveners used to help the sponge rise. Angel food cake is baked in an ungreased pan and then cooled upside-down.

Genoise Cake

Genoise is a sponge cake that is made by whipping together whole eggs with sugar over a bain-marie. The egg and sugar mixture is then beaten using a stand mixer until it has doubled in size and has become really pale in color. The dry ingredients are then folded in carefully as to not knock out any air. You can also add oil or melted butter.

Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cakes are made from vegetable oil, separated egg white and egg yolks, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings. They are incredibly light.

Mamon Cake

During the Spanish era, sponge and chiffon cakes were introduced in South East Asia, particularly in the Philippines. They are referred to as mamón. Usually, they are baked cake rolls (locally known as pianono), loaves (taisan), or cupcakes (torta). They are traditionally served with butter (usually margarine) and white sugar.

Boston Cream Pie

A chocolate-glazed, tiered yellow sponge cake with pastry cream makes up a Boston cream pie. The dessert got its name when pies and cakes were baked in the same pans, and the terms were used interchangeably.

Pan di Spagna

Pan di spagne is basically the Italian translation of sponge cake. It is typically made similarly to a normal sponge cake.

Jaconde Cake

Jaconde sponge is also known as Biscuit Joconde. It is a thin sponge cake, similar to a Swiss roll, made with ground almonds. It is usually used in making layered cakes like Opera Cake.

Pound Cake

Pound Cake

One of the most simple and well-known cakes is the pound cake. It’s a white and dense cake. Even if it is primarily plain, several flavored, lighter variants are available nowadays. The name pound cake comes from the number of components needed to make it. Which is a pound of each of four ingredients; flour,  eggs, sugar, and butter.

A pound cake is typically made in a Bundt pan or as a loaf. Because of its simplicity and density, the cake is a well-liked accompaniment to fruit or whipped cream.


The pound cake is thought to have originated in northern Europe in the early 1700s. The large quantity and lack of leveling made it a giant, hefty cake that could easily feed large groups of people. The components of pound cake have evolved over time. Through the years, bakers have modified this basic recipe by cutting the amounts of sugar, fat, and eggs while making up the difference by increasing the amount of milk.

How is it made?

Making a pound cake is incredibly easy as you are using the same measurements for each of the four main ingredients. If you are using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and eggs over medium to high speed and beat well until light and fluffy. Add in any other liquids and fold in the flour and additional dry ingredients.

Don’t whip the mixture too much, especially while adding the flour and eggs. The cake will become dense and tough, and the crust will become more brittle. You don’t want to overdo it because the recipe already produces a dense cake.

My favorite pound cake recipe is this mouthwatering lemon drizzle cake.

Popular Pound Cakes

The cake is well-liked throughout the world, and numerous nations have added their own twists and modifications. It has been altered by adding flavorings like vanilla or almond extract. Dried fruits like currants or dried cranberries can also be added as well as by making changes to the original recipe. Here are some of the variations:

French Style

The pound cake is highly known in France. It is called quatre-quarts which means four quarters. Each of the four quarters has equal weight. The French-speaking Caribbean region typically adds rum or mashed bananas for extra moisture and is a popular cake made on Christmas Eve.

Mexican Style

The word for pound cake in Mexican is panqué. The most popular variations are panqué with pasas (pound cake with raisins) and panqué con nueces (pound cake with walnuts).

Columbian and Venezuelan Style

The word “ponqué” is a Spanish phonetic approximation of the word “pound cake.” It refers to the pound cake that is popular in Colombia and Venezuela. The ponqué, a cake covered in cream or sugar and soaked in wine, is a favorite at birthday parties, wedding receptions, and other social gatherings.

German Style

Any cake that is made by combining flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and often milk into a batter is referred to as Rührkuchen in German, which translates to pound cake. German variations add almonds, chocolate, dried fruits, and alcohol while using various tin shapes and sizes.

What is the Difference Between Sponge Cake vs Pound Cake?

Now that you know a bit more about these two types of cakes you can see that they are quite different. As I mentioned at the beginning, sponge cakes are light and airy, whereas pound cakes are heavy and dense. Most of their ingredients may be the same but the measurements and execution vary. They also differ in taste. Sponge cake has a lighter and subtler taste, while pound cake has a rich buttery flavor. Sponge cakes can be made without leavening agents, but pound cakes need baking powder or self-raising flour to rise.

Both cakes have unique characteristics; whichever you choose to bake, your family and friends will surely enjoy it!

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