Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream

This is a recipe for a hot milk sponge cake that makes a great base for layer cakes and trifle. It’s the easiest and best tasting recipe for a classic vanilla sponge cake that you can use to make Victoria sponge cake, fraisier and framboisier cakes, and berry trifles. It keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s the perfect layer cake by Anna Olsen from her newest book Baking Day. I was gifted a copy by Anna and the Appetite By Random House team and I knew I had to share this recipe. It’s the no fail vanilla sponge cake you need in your like and it’s my favourite layer cake to make in the summer with all the berries. It carries through til stone fruit season and perfect with sliced peaches, apricots, cherries, pineapple, kiwi you name it. Layers of moist, plush, tender, fluffy soft sponge cake (I’m pretty sure I used up all the descriptive words there) piled high with fresh whipped cream and mixed berries - simple and refreshing for your back yard celebration. Minimally decorated naked style to show off those pillowy layers of cream and all the beautiful berries.

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream

What is a hot milk cake?

It gets its name from the ingredients used to make this particular type of sponge cake: it’s made with milk that was warmed enough to melt the butter. Using HOT milk helps with aeration in this cake making it a very light and fluffy sponge cake. There’s is no “cream butter and sugar” step in this recipes which is a good thing because it can be the biggest cause of problems with the crumb and texture of some vanilla cakes. This is really a no fail method to a really delicious fully vanilla sponge cake.

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream

Anna Olson is a well known and well loved pastry chef, author and TV personality - just to name a few of her amazing accomplishments. She has at least 10 books under her belt and this one is her latest - Baking Day. It’s filled with 120 sweet and savory recipes to bring family and friends together, and bond over quality time spent baking. That is the whole idea around Baking Day. Baking Days are always soaked with memories whether it’s baking for loved ones or baking with loved ones. The book has a fresh, clean and appealing look from the layout to the photography. Every recipe is marked with difficulty level, necessary time commitment, required tools, and modifications for allergies or dietary restrictions, and each recipe has great recipe notes with tips and substitutions.  It’s made for all sorts of bakers from the novice to the advanced baker. I have so many things book marked from it. This is a great book - I learn a lot about baking from Anna in general and just love her! She has all the tips and tricks secrets we all want to know from a pasty chef and she shares them all so we can all be proud of our baking. Thanks Anna for that and getting a copy of your book in my hands! If you would like a copy of Anna’s book Baking Day you could purchase it from her website or Indigo, and Amazon.

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream

Ingredients for this vanilla Sponge Cake 

  • Eggs – whipped to aerate, these are key to make the cake extraordinarily light and fluffy. You don’t get an eggy flavour and the whole eggs goes in - no need to separate the yolks from the whites in this recipe.
  • Granulated Sugar - is mixed in with the eggs - regular granulated sugar is just fine for this cake.
  • Milk -  2 % is what is called for in this recipe but whole milk will also work
  • Butter - I generally always use unsalted in baking, this cake included
  • Cake Flour-  is a lower protein flour that is softer in texture and creates a light and fluffly cake. You can use all purpose flour but it won’t have the same texture.
  • Vanilla extract - this is the only thing that flavours the cake other than the butter so I like to use pure vanilla extract
  • Baking Powder -is the leavening agent that causes cakes to rise. Baking powder creates a much lighter and airy texture with larger air bubbles

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream

How to make this hot milk Sponge Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare cake pans with baking spray and line the bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper
  2. Heat milk and butter until butter is melted
  3. Whisk or sift all your dry ingredients together
  4. In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, combine eggs, vanilla and sugar; mix with whisk attachment for 5 min until more than doubled in volume
  5. Add flour mixture to eggs and mix on low to combine
  6. Remove some of the batter into separate bowl and whisk in hot milk (tempering the milk)
  7. Add milk/batter mixture all at once to the rest of the batter and whisk to combine
  8. Divide the cake batter into cake pans evenly and bake until golden
  9. When cakes are cool make whipped cream frosting and assemble the Berries and Cream Layer Cake

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream

Tips for baking a great hot milk cake

  • Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder and salt) in order to lighten the dry mixture, to remove clumps, and to help these ingredients mix evenly into the cake batter.
  • Use an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer. In order to whisk the eggs and the sugar enough to incorporate more air, I recommend using an electric mixer or a stand mixer instead of by hand. You won’t get the same lift doing it by whisk.
  • Whip the eggs with the sugar for several minutes (even 5 minutes if you are using an electric mixer). You want the mixture to be very light, airy, and thick. When you lift the beater over the mixture, it should fall back like a ribbon that doesn’t disappear right away. Do not worry about over whipping - that is very hard to do with whole eggs and sugar.
  • Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.

Baking Day is published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream

For more cake recipes like this one check these out:


Yields: Two 9 inch round cakes
Servings: 12
Prep Time: 30-40 mins
Cook Time: 25-30 mins


For the cake

  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake and pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups fresh mixed berries, halved if large

For the whipped cream frosting

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • ½ cup of icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons instant milk powder*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and line two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment.
  2. Heat the milk and butter together over medium heat until butter is melted. Keep the mixture warm over low heat while preparing the rest of the batter.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or standing mixer with whisk attachment - whip the eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed until the eggs are light, pale butter yellow colour and have more than doubled in volume, approx 5 minutes.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the eggs all at once and combine at low speed.
  6. Spoon approx 1½ cups of the cake batter into a separate bowl and whisk in the hot milk. This will help temper it. Add milk mixture all at once to the rest of the batter and whisk by hand to combine
  7. Pour batter into the pans as evenly as possible (for perfectly even cake layers you can weigh the batter). Bake for 25-30 min until the cakes spring back when gently pressed. Cool cakes completely in their pans on a cooling rack before removing to assemble.

For the whipped cream frosting

  1. In large bowl using standing mixer or hand beater with whisk attachment, whip the cream at high speed until it starts to hold its shape.
  2. Add the icing sugar, skim milk powder, and vanilla. Whip at low speed to work the icing sugar in and then increase the speed limit on high and continue to whip until the cream holds a peak when the beaters are lifted.

Assembling the cake

  1. Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or platter. Dollop half of the whipped cream frosting on top, and spread it on evenly. Top with 1½ cups of fresh fruit evenly over cream. Gently place the second cake over top. Spread remaining frosting on top of the cake and arrange the remaining fruit on top.
  2. Chill the assembled cake, uncovered, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day covered before slicing and serving. This time in the refrigerator helps whipped cream thicken and makes slicing easier. If chilling for more then 2 hours wrap carefully or place in a cake carrier in the fridge. The berries may start to release their juices if chilling more than 2 hours.
  3. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

To make ahead:

  • Cakes: can be made up to a day in advance. I usually leave them in the pan to cool completely then wrap them tightly with plastic wrap. Allow them to come to room temperature before assembling them. It’s best to assemble the day you make it.
  • Whipped cream frosting: can be made up to a day in advance as well. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

For freezing:

Wrap cooled cake airtight and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature.

  • Why the skim milk powder: The skim milk powder works as a stabilizer so the frosting will stay in place and not deflate even if whipped a full day ahead of serving. If you cannot find it or don’t have it just leave it out. Your whipped cream will have less stability but will still be delicious.

Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe With Berries and Cream