The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Foam Cakes

We might never have thought about cakes like this (because cake is cake, right?), but most good cakes begin with two ingredients — fat or foam. Cakes made with fat or shortening, aka butter cakes, are usually dense, contain butter, margarine, oil or shortening along with baking soda and baking powder, to give it lift. Allrecipes, which gives us an in-depth look at different types of cake, cites chocolate, carrot, or red velvet cakes as examples. However, foam cakes take their lift from a completely different ingredient. 

These cakes — which include sponge, angel, and chiffon cakes — are made with beaten egg whites, which become light and airy when they are whipped for an extended period of time. When beaten eggs are added to cake batter and then popped into the oven, their air pockets expand further, and it is this reaction that gives foam cakes both height and its volume. But because foam cakes rely on a physical and chemical reaction to take place in order to deliver, the eggs you use need to be fresh (via Joy of Baking). The size of the eggs also need to be exact and at room temperature, which the National Institute of Standards and Technology actually defines as 68 degrees Fahrenheit, or 20 degrees Celsius.   

It's a mistake to leave whipped egg whites to sit around

It might sound daunting to make a cake and have its success literally rise (or fall) with one ingredient, but making a foam cake isn't as scary as it sounds if you follow instructions. Crafty Baking says it is critical to use egg whites immediately after they have been beaten, because if you let them sit around, they will start to lose air and deflate. The addition of ingredients like sugar and cream of tartar helps them keep their shape for longer, but it's important not to push the batter by keeping it out of the oven for longer than 10 minutes. 

Joy of Baking recommends that as soon as you've got your egg whites ready, fold the other ingredients in and pop the pan into a preheated oven as quickly as possible. Allrecipes also warns that foam cakes need to be executed in a tall pan, so you've given the batter plenty of space to grow.