Sponge Cake Recipe

Sponge Cake 2008, watercolor by Leora Wenger
Sponge Cake 2008, watercolor by Leora Wenger

Has anyone heard of Esther Robfogel of Rochester, New York? This is really her sponge cake recipe. It is from the Rochester Hadassah Cookbook, which was given to me as an engagement present by mother’s friend from Rochester. Her friend used to make ten sponge cakes a day before Pesach (Erev Erev Pesach), and she gave away about seven. One year our family was one of the lucky recipients of one of these sponge cakes. A few years later, after remembering the delicious taste of that cake, I taught myself to make sponge cake using Esther Robfogel’s recipe, which she titled: Never-Fail Sponge Cake.


  • 9 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake meal
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • Juice and rind of 1 lemon or orange

Beat egg whites until they hold their shape; add sugar slowly. Beat yolks and add lemon juice and rind. Fold in cake meal and potato starch. Fold in beaten yolks. Pour into large size ungreased tube pan. Bake in 325° or 350° oven for 50-60 minutes. Invert on cake rack and let cool in pan.

And don’t do what I did my first year of trying this and use a square aluminum pan. You need to use a tube or bundt pan, or your never-fail cake will fail to bake properly.

Learn about the Sponge Cake painting here

0 thoughts on “Sponge Cake Recipe

  • Love the picture. We are going to my in-laws in Rhode Island for Passover and I was wondering what to bring. Maybe I will try out this recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Gail,

    Just be forewarned that separating all those eggs requires concentration. Use at least 3 bowls so as not to mess up your whites.

    It’s delicious. Like Marie Antoinette: no bread? “Let them eat cake!”

  • Yes; knew the Robfogels! And LOVE the Rochester Hadassah Cookbook….I’m STILL giving them for gifts, and I haven’t lived in Rochester for more than 30 years!

    • You get a hand grater and grate pieces into the bowl. Not too big pieces. I guess you would call that zest of the rind. The orange part, not the white part.

  • Esther G. Robfogel (1904-1997) was my mother. I ate her excellent sponge cakes on Pesach and throughout the year for many decades. I hope that my granddaughter, Esther F. Robfogel, will carry on the tradition.

    • Oh, that is so sweet of you to leave a comment on this post! We love her sponge cake and all the recipes in the Rochester Hadassah Cookbook. I will think of her when I make sponge cake this year.

  • I’m Esther Robfogel’s daughter. Although I used to bake with my mom, baking was never my forte. As it happens, I was thinking about making mom’s cake this year. After reading your blog, I know I will. Thanks.

    • Thanks for writing. I hope I can share the baking process this year with my daughter (or my middle son – no hope in doing a together project with my eldest, though he can make a great chocolate cake with no help at all).

  • Wow, I love the painting! Our matza meal here is coarser, so I avoid it in sponge cakes, but I love the illustraation! You are very talented. Chag kasher v’sameach!

  • Thank you for posting this definately No Fail sponge cake recipe, Leona! I was writing the second part of a blog article on traditions and I wanted to include this recipe in it, so I went into my cooking program, Home Cookin’,it wasn’t there! I was so upset and was too lazy to go downstairs to get my copy of The Rochester Hadassah cookbook (I have 2 versions and love both!). So I thought and thought what to do, then brain kicked in and I Googled “Sponge Cake recipes from the Rochester, NY Hadassah cookbook,” and luckily landed here. So I will be posting the recipe on my blog sometime today. Like Sharon, I still give the cookbook for gifts, but I give them for engagement presents.
    Most of all, I LOVE your drawing…I was so tempted to lift that too! LOL…you are one talented lady! I will be following you, just to see more of your artwork! Again, thx for the recipe!

  • My Mother in Law Natalie Gitelman Schwartz designed the cover and drew the illustrations in the book. She is a local artist here in Rochester New York. We found your blog yesterday when Natalie couldn’t find her cookbook (packed in a box when she and my Father in Law Herb moved in with us last year) and I went searching online for the recipe! What fun to read all the comments! And thanks for posting the recipe so we can keep our tradition. 🙂

    • Thanks for telling us about your relationship to the book! My version has no illustrations. I’m glad I could help with the recipe. Enjoy the rest of Pesach.

  • Thanks to you, Leora, my mother, Esther Robfogel’s never-fail sponge cake is immortalized on the Internet. She would be pleased and would also give credit to her mother, Ida Finn, from whom she learned how to bake. Chag Same’ach!

  • What a beautiful water color! The recipe is great! I am drooling-I need to go get a napkin! 🙂 Thanks for clarifying about the pan.

    • Thank you, Lorri. I guess way back in 2008 we hadn’t yet connected – I make this cake every year, sometimes twice. I now own both a bundt pan and a tube pan – I made it in the tube pan this year, because it’s easier to keep in the bottom of the tube pan.

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