Making Sunshine Cake

What do you do after you’ve made angel food cake and you have a dozen yolks left? Make sunshine cake of course. My grandmother — who called this “gold cake” — always did and it looked pretty much exactly like this, colonnade frosting and all. You make this cake in very much the same fashion you do angel food cake, save for the fact you need baking powder to help raise it. Start by getting your ingredients together, preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and preparing your pan.

Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan:

Then apply a little cooking spray or butter to the pan.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Next, put the yolks in the bowl of the mixture fitted with the whip.

Whip for about a minute on high until they’re lemon yellow, then add the milk.

Whip that mixture into a foam that’s about as thick as heavy cream. When you pick up the whip you should see some light tracks on the surface. You can whip this higher, but you don’t want to, trust me.

With the machine running, add the sugar in a steady stream. Just pretend that whip is whipping, OK? We’re dealing with low production values here.

Whip for about another 30 seconds until the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should still be thick, but drip readily off the whip.

Now sift about a third of the flour mixture onto the egg mixture.

Fold that in.

Sift on another third, fold, and sift on the last of the flour.

Fold the batter until it looks about like so. A few streaks or spots of flour are OK.

Pour and/or scrape the batter into the prepared pan and put it into the oven.

Bake about 40 minutes until about this color. Gold or something.

Let it cool about ten minutes, then run a butter knife or icing spatula around the rim and the tube to loosen it.

Flip the pan over and de-pan the cake, the peel off the parchment.

Let it cool all the way down before you ice it. It goes well with just about any icing or frosting you care to apply.

13 thoughts on “Making Sunshine Cake”

  1. Well, isn’t that beautiful? What’s this cake like otherwise – texture? crumb? taste?

    1. Hey Nicole!

      The best way to describe it really is as an angel food cake made with yolks. It’s extremely light and very fluffy. Not as rich as a traditional butter cake because, well, it has no butter! I think you’d like it if you tried it. I made another one for a Daisy Scout picnic over the weekend and the kids were wild about it. That surprised me since the cake was neither terribly rich nor terribly sweet. Must be all the love that went into it! 😉

      – Joe

      1. I took a leap of faith, Joe. I trusted you that I could use a non-stick pan for a strawberry chiffon cake that I’ve NEVER trusted to anything but an old well-used angel food cake pan that isn’t non-stick. I turned it upside down with trembling hands, expecting the cake to fall out of the pan…but it did not. I will say the base moved a bit which I’ve never seen with the old pan…guess I will find out in the AM if that means a more compressed cake than usual…but you were right. 🙂 Just thought I’d tell you that…in case you didn’t know you were right. Thanks for the tip. Still have plans to do this one for Saturday delivery with the colonnade frosting but I have this strawberry patch that is producing some serious strawberries and I needed to use a few in a cake for tomorrow. I also have a large container of fresh Oregon strawberries for those who choose no cake…or heck, for those who choose cake AND strawberries. Cake smells amazing. Can’t wait to release it and see the results! Thanks again!!

        I did use the bottle method for separating the eggs and for the first time I had two yolks break in the whites. I think this technique works better with colder eggs than warmer eggs but I’m always uncomfortable with yolks or whites sitting out after being released from the shell. Do you think it is better to separate them cold (I know they tend to separate easier then) and leave them out for a certain time? Thanks.

        1. Great news, Linda! You used quite a bit of what’s been on the blog this last week, didn’t you? 😉

          How did it turn out? I can’t wait to hear!

          Thanks very much for the comment,

          – Joe

          1. Cake turned out beautiful and got great reviews but I did learn not to do anything to move that upside down cake before it is totally cool unlike a non-nonstick pan that I have freely moved around. The cake stayed put until I handled the pan but dropped as soon as I moved it. Luckily it had cooled enough that if had locked the structure so it didn’t collapse when I had to right it but the hold on a nonstick pan is definitely not as firm. Of course the plus side to that was the pretty sides that got released instead of the knife around the cake to release it so that was nice. I didn’t use the parchment on the bottom but I wonder if it would have drooped sooner without that firm hold on the bottom since the sides released so easily. Definitely worth another try but I won’t touch it at all next time until I’m ready to move it and it is definitely cooled down. Joe knows…..thanks!

          2. That was a close one! Maybe leave the parchment out next time. That’s probably the safest bet. But thanks for getting back to me with the results!

            – Joe

  2. would you recommend a cake syrup with this cake? or would it not hold up to a cake syrup well? which cake types would you say are good for cake syrups and ones that are absolutely not?


    1. Hi Leah!

      This cake is too light for anything other than the lightest brushing of cake syrup. I don’t want to say none at all, but the crumb is extremely light and would start to collapse with too heavy an application.

      Great question!

      – Joe

      1. Sounds like it has enough moisture that any syrup wouldn’t be required (moisture-wise). I’d think that colonnade frosting would lock in moisture as well. I’ll let you know how mine goes. I think I will be making both tonight and like your grandmother I’m being creative to come out even with those yolks and whites. The extra yolks will give themselves to a batch of German Chocolate Frosting or maybe an orange curd. Never made an orange curd and at the moment I have a surplus of oranges to use in “something”. Thanks, Joe!

        1. Linda — I’ve made orange curd — it is excellent! Make just like lemon curd, but sub OJ for lemon! Mmmm. . .now I’m hungry.

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