I love foam cakes because their light, airy texture makes them both fun to make and fun to eat. Foam cakes are types of cakes that are leavened primarily with beaten eggs or egg whites. When eggs are beaten at high speeds, they build a foam made up of tiny bubbles that is held together by the proteins in the eggs. This foam is airy enough to leaven a cake – hence the term, foam cake. There are several types of foam cakes. Two of the most popular are chiffon cakes and angel food cakes. Chiffon cakes typically have vegetable oil added to them to make them extra moist, while angel food cakes are made with egg whites alone and contain no fat at all. Sponge cakes fall somewhere in between these two other foam cakes because they are usually made with whole eggs or a combination of eggs and egg yolks. Some sponge cakes do contain melted butter or oil, but generally a sponge cake is made with no additional added fats at all.
This Pineapple Sponge Cake is a beautiful cake that is perfect for spring and summer entertaining. I can just about guarantee that you’ll love it if you also tend to enjoy other foam cakes – even if you’ve never made a regular sponge cake before. This cake is as moist as an angel food cake with a slightly firmer structure to it, like a chiffon cake. It is soft and tender, with just the right amount of sweetness that you can eat it on its own without it seeming too “plain.” You can also pair thick slices of this cake with whipped cream, fresh berries and tropical fruits – after all, it is a pineapple cake!
The pineapple flavor in this cake doesn’t come from whole slices of pineapple. The pineapple flavor comes from juice, which is reduced to concentrate that sweet, floral pineapple flavor. You should start with unsweetened, natural juice for this recipe, not a pineapple juice made from concentrate or one that has been artificially sweetened. Pour the juice into a small saucepan and cook it until it is syrupy and reduced by half. Once it is cooled, it will infuse a nice sweetness into your cake.
This cake should be baked in a 10-inch ring pan with a removable bottom, so it is easy to remove from the pan after it cools. Like an angel food cake, it should be cooled upside down to discourage the cake from shrinking as it cools. A golden brown “crust” will form on the top of this cake as it bakes and, while it is tasty, you’ll get a much better presentation if you flip the cake upside down before serving it! Kept in an airtight container, this cake will stay perfectly fresh for several days after baking.
Pineapple Sponge Cake
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
6 large egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F. Take out a 10-inch ring pan and do not grease.
In a small saucepan, reduce pineapple juice to 1/2 cup of liquid. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, sift together sifted cake flour and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. With the mixer on high speed, gradually beat in the salt and 3/4 cup of the sugar until egg whites reach soft peaks. Set aside.
In another large bowl, with a mixer on medium-high speed, beat together remaining 3/4 cup sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Blend in pineapple juice, then gradually blend in the flour mixture.
Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture, working in two or three additions, folding the ingredients together until no streaks of egg whites remain visible. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Turn the pan upside down and place on the kitchen counter to cool. When cake is completely cool, run a knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake and invert it onto a serving platter.