Kirbie's Cravings

Mini sponge cakes

photo of Mini sponge cakes stacked on a plate

I saw a recipe for Clear Water Sponge Cake on The Little Teochew which looked very much like the sponge cakes that are often sold at Chinese bakeries. Super spongy and light as air, the Chinese sponge cakes are usually the size of oversized muffins. I always pick up a few when I visit a Chinese bakery and I make sure to eat them right away because they spoil quickly.

close-up photo of Mini sponge cakes

I wasn’t sure if these clear water cakes were the same, but they looked remarkably similar and they were easy to make. In fact, I was a bit suspicious at how easy the recipe looked. A lot of Chinese desserts and bakery items are pretty complicated to make.

After I finished mixing the batter, I realized that there was no baking powder agent to make the cake rise. I was really concerned. I knew the egg whites would help the sponge cakes rise, but I wasn’t sure it was enough. I double checked the recipe, but I was afraid that something got lost in the translation, or perhaps the flour used in the original recipe already had baking powder inside it.

photo of one sponge cake on a plate

To my relief, the cakes came out fine. They were soft, spongy, airy. They didn’t rise that much though. So I still wonder if I was supposed to have baking powder in there. Perhaps next time I’ll fill the batter cup higher too, to make these cakes higher.

Update: I made more Chinese Sponge Cakes after this post and they rose much higher than these!

photo of one mini cake

I’ll have to investigate more to see if I should have put in baking powder, but the recipe as written is great too. The cakes tasted just like the chinese sponge cakes I get in the chinese bakeries! I used a regular muffin pan rather than the oversized ones, so these are more like mini sponge cakes. I had no idea they were so easy to make. Next time, I’m just going to make my own rather than buying them.

photo of mini sponge cake split in half

Mini Sponge Cakes

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
These cakes are soft, spongy, and airy and are very similar to the sponge cakes sold at Chinese bakeries.



  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 50 g corn oil


  • 50 g cake flour


  • 3 egg whites


  • 50 g castor sugar
  • Dash of salt


  • Beat (A) till well mixed with an egg beater. Sift in (B), mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk (C) till frothy, add (D) and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold in the egg white mixture to egg yolk mixture in 3 additions, mix until well combined. Scoop the batter into paper cups filling them until they are 60% full.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 150°C for about 18-20mins.


Recipe adapted from The Little Teochew

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!

overhead photo of mini sponge cakes stacked on a plate

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16 comments on “Mini sponge cakes”

  1. Can you freeze these in prep for a wedding?Will use as a base for raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries with whipped cream.,,

  2. can i use butter instead of corn oil???

  3. Hi Kirbie ,
    I was just wondering , how long does this mini sponge cakes last ? Everytime I cook or bake something we always have leftovers and I was wondering if they have to be esten immediately on the same day as it was baked . Thanks !
    – Ace

  4. How much is 50g oil, 50g sugar, and 50g of flour?
    Because I ended up using waaay too much sugar

    • Hi Lucy, unfortunately when I did this recipe I used my scale and measured out the ingredients. So I don’t know what the conversion is for cups. Keep in mind that sugar is quite a bit heavier than flour so you wont need nearly as much to reach 50g compared to 50g of flour. You can try googling to see if anyone has done the conversion for the most basic baking ingredients. Or maybe ask for a scale for christmas =) They are less than $20.

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  6. Hey Kirbie! Thanks for the link up! Glad you made these. They look so soft and spongy. 🙂

  7. Hi WW. Thanks for all the explanations. That really eases my concerns. And I’m definitely going to make this again and beat my eggs longer. Thanks so much!

  8. Hi Kirbie
    No, you don’t need baking powder in these cakes. There are three types of agents to make baked goods rise, it’s either: air, baking powder/soda, or yeast. Since we are making cake, then yeast is out of question.
    The reason why your cakes didn’t rise that much maybe due to the beating time of the eggs. Try using an electric mixer on medium high and beat the egg parts for 10 minuttes at least to incorporate more air into them.
    Also, flour produces protein when it’s mixed with liquid, it’s also known as gluten, so the more you mix it the more gluten it’ll produce. Since gluten is protein, so when it’s baked it’ll harden which in turn will make your baked goods firm. When you are making cakes, however, you want the light and fluffy texture, so low protein flour (or cake flour) is always used. If leavening agents are added to the flour, then it’ll be labeled as self-rising flour.
    Hope that helps :o)

  9. Yeah the recipe calls for low protein flour, which I’m not sure what that is. But Little Teochew also translated it as cake flour, which is what I used. But I’m not sure if cake flour in the US is the same. Because there is no baking powder in the cake flour here.

  10. They are pretty small, so I ate quite a few 😉

  11. Yum, looks good, but in the original recipe and in the Little Teochew’s recipe, it says “???????”/low protein flour which is different (I think) than regular flour…

  12. Oh wow…these look so pretty and so soft in texture. I think I can eat a few of that 😀 I would love to try.