Rosewater Orange Sponge Cake


I like the combination of orange and rosewater so that there’s a bit of acidity to cut the sweetness of a rose cake. In some parts of this world, this type of sponge cake is known as a "fatless sponge" as no butter or oil is added to the mixture. Nevertheless it is still a tender, delicate cake.

I like using Nielsen Massey Rose Water but you can also substitute with your own. For cake flour, I have used both Softasilk and Bob’s Red Mill.

Basic Sponge:

  • 300g cake flour
  • 145g superfine or caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 10 egg whites
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 ml warm water


  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Preferred cake pan Zener 9.5 inch tin-plated springform pan from Germany.

Preheat oven to 335 F (168 C)

Prepare cake pan. Butter sides with unsalted butter and place sheet of parchment paper on the bottom.

Zest and juice a fresh orange. I like to leave my zest to macerate in the orange juice.

Sift dry ingredients flour, baking powder, salt together.

Whisk egg yolks and roughly 2/3 (95 g) of the sugar until pale yellow. 

Beat egg whites with whisk attachment. Once they are foamy, add cream of tartar. Add in sugar when soft peaks form and finish beating until stiff peaks form. 

I like to do the chopstick test to see if my egg whites are done. Chopstick should stand up straight on its own in your mixing bowl and not wiggle or fall if egg whites are stiff enough!

Successful chopstick test!

Successful chopstick test!

Carefully combine the batters by gently folding egg yolks, part of the egg whites, rosewater and water.  Gradually add dry ingredients to avoid clumping. Finish by folding in remaining egg whites and finally add the orange zest and juice. Fully incorporated batter should still be light but not streaky.

Pour into cake pan and gently use spatula to level if necessary. Tap against counter to remove any large bubbles.

Bake in pan at 335 F for 50 mins in middle rack of oven. Cake will be done if inserted toothpick in center comes out clean. Edges should pull away from pan.

If you have the time, to avoid the cake deflating, allow cake to cool gradually. I prefer to open the oven door and slide the rack partially out so that my cake slowly acclimates to room temperature, before pulling it out completely.

Notes: I found that darker cake pans will cook the same recipe significantly faster. Decrease cooking time and temperature to 30 mins at 325 F 30 if using a dark nonstick cake pan.


If you don’t have rosewater, you can also omit it or substitute with vanilla extract instead.