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Nan’s Sponge Cake

A vintage sponge cake recipe. Just like Nan made.
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nan's sponge cake

This is a recipe for a traditional Sponge Cake, decorated with mock cream, a lemon condensed milk filling and strawberries. Just like Nan made.

Nan's Sponge Cake

Did your Nan make Sponge Cake?

My Nan Mac (Nana Ling’s daughter) certainly did. 

And, at least in my mind, they were the best sponge cakes in the world.

I think one of her secrets was making it the same every time.

She perfected her sponge cakes and we all knew what to expect when she arrived at a family gathering – a sponge cake with mock cream, condensed milk filling and strawberries. Perfectly baked, of course.

You’d have to get in quick once sweets were served to make sure you scored a slice of Nan’s sought-after sponge cake.

Re-creating Nan’s Sponge Cake

Here, I’ve tried to get as close as possible to Nan’s Sponge Cake.

I’ve used one of Nana Ling’s old-fashioned sponge recipes. It also happens to be fairly easy to master. Bonus!

I’ve used a mock cream recipe that’s a little lighter than most, and also easy to create and pipe out onto the cake.

The top of the cake is filled with a condensed milk and lemon mixture which is pure alchemy. I never knew how Nan made this as a child. It was just this magical tasting thing in my mind.

The magic has been taken out now, since I’ve discovered the recipe. But the good news is that it’s super simple to make and tastes just as good as I remember.

Finally, I’ve decorated this sponge very simply with strawberries. Just like Nan.

Nana Ling’s Sponge Cake recipe

Keep scrolling for the tested and tweaked version.

handwritten sponge cake recipe
nan's sponge cake

Nan’s Sponge Cake

A vintage sponge cake recipe. Just like Nan made.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Australian, English
Keyword: sponge, spongecake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 361kcal


Sponge Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour (preferably cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda

Condensed Milk Filling

  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 2 lemons

Mock cream

  • 125 grams unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 125 grams icing sugar (3/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons cold water


  • 5 strawberries (chopped in halves or quarters)


Sponge Cake

  • Pre-heat oven to slow-moderate (155 degrees celsius (fan-forced)).
  • Prepare two small round, square or heart tins. Grease and dust with flour or grease and line with baking paper.
  • Separate egg whites from yolks.
  • Whisk whites using an electric hand held beater on medium-high speed until stiff.
  • Add egg yolks and continue beating for another three minutes.
  • Add sugar gradually to egg mixture while continuing to beat on medium-high speed.
  • Sift flour, cream of tartar and cornflour.
  • Fold dry ingredients through egg and sugar mixture on mixer's lowest speed.
  • Combine melted butter, boiling water and bicarb soda. Once combined, add to mixture and mix on lowest speed until combined.
  • Pour equal parts of mixture into the tins and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Once cakes are cooked, allow to cool for five minutes before turning out onto a cooling tray.

Condensed Milk Filling

  • To make condensed milk filling, pour condensed milk into a bowl.
  • Juice the two lemons and add the lemon juice to the condensed milk.
  • Whisk by hand until mixture is an even, thick consistency.

Mock Cream Filling

  • Beat butter until creamy.
  • Add a little of the boiling water to the icing sugar. Just enough to make it into a paste. Add sugar gradually while continuing to beat the butter.
  • Add the remaining water a little at a time, alternating between hot and cold water, while continuing to beat the mixture.


  • Once cakes are completely cool, pipe stars of mock cream on the top of one of the sponges (so top of cake is completely covered). Add the second cake to the top of the first to create a sponge sandwich.
  • Spread a thin layer of mock cream on the top of the second sponge. Pipe stars of mock cream around the edge of the sponge cake.
  • Pour condensed milk mixture onto top of sponge until it fills the area (the mock cream stars act as walls to keep the filling contained). You may have a little left over.
  • Decorate with strawberries.


Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 120mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 461IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 1mg
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Helen Ball

Friday 12th of February 2021

Hi Libby, I love this sponge cake but sadly I can't have it anymore as I have an allergy to corn and anything related to it. But I just wanted to say that I think the difference in our cooking and our parents and grandparents is the slow combustion stove (wood stove) Cheers, Helen


Friday 12th of February 2021

Hi Helen, Not all cornflours are corn based. There's a few that are wheaten cornflour. Check out the ingredients next time you're at the supermarket. Hope this helps.


Friday 12th of February 2021

Hi Helen. Oh, that's inconvenient! Lucky there are plenty of other lovely things without corn ❤️ My mum says the same about the wood stoves. She tells me about the Christmas lunches that Nana Ling and her mother (Granny Sharpe) would cook up in the wood ovens. Thanks so much for sharing. Libby x

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