So I've just recently started baking and I've tried a bunch of cakes using the basic combination of the following ingredients:

  • 225g unsalted butter , softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour

They're coming out ok but are not really "light and airy", a bit too "dense" compared to a cake made by a pro. I've done some reading and I think I'm maybe not working the butter and sugar (eggs too?) for long enough and/or working the flour in too much.

Can anyone tell me how to make the perfect light and airy cake?

5 Answers 5


What you are making is a pound cake. Or maybe a sponge cake, depends on the order of mixing the ingredients. Of the two, the sponge cake is somewhat lighter, so if you have been making pound cake (cream butter and sugar, add eggs, then flour), you can switch to sponge (foam eggs and sugar, add flour and fat). But both are hearty homemade cakes, they are supposed to be dense.

The iced cakes you get in a bakery are much lighter, because they use a different type of layer. Most types of cake are lighter than pound and sponge cakes. Try making genoise, chiffon, or angel food cake layers, they are all light. And yes, using cake flour will help too, or replacing part of the flour in the recipe with pure starch (usually cornstarch or potato starch, you can also use wheat starch if you can get it. Tapioca or arrowroot aren't that well suited). For a real "pro" taste, also throw in some lecithine, it makes the mouthfeel softer and smoother - but if you don't feel like hunting around for lecithine, don't bother, a good homemade cake doesn't really need it, I only mentioned it because you asked about "cake made by a pro".


You are essentially correct. It is important to beat plenty of air into the butter/sugar/egg mixture initially, but you should mix in the flour until just incorporated to avoid over-developing the gluten, which will result in a dense cake.

You can also try using cake flour, a low-protein white flour that helps the cake stay light.

  • Definitely the issue is using the wrong flour. Self-raising flour = bready baked goods. Cake flour with less gluten will be much more airy.
    – Jay
    Feb 17, 2012 at 15:18
  • 1
    self-raising flour isn't that much more gluten-rich. It's just AP with bicarb and salt. You can still get light cakes with SR flour if you don't overwork it. Feb 17, 2012 at 16:35

The self-raising flour could be part of the problem. Chemical leavening can lose its power over time, especially if exposed to humidity. Consider using cake flour (which may make for a softer crumb, too) and adding your own baking powder. This lets you ensure that the leavening is fresh, and also lets you control the amount.

Also, if you really want light and airy, mix up an angel food cake. It's pretty much the ultimate in light and airy as cakes go, and very easy to make.


Try this:

200g of self raising flour  
200g caster sugar 
a tsp of baking powder 
tbs of water and 
four eggs 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. In another bowl mix all other ingredients together, then add the eggs add a bit of vanilla essence.
Whisk for 2 mins, then bake on the shelf second from bottom for 45mins at 150°C.

You will have a light, fluffy, moist cake. All you may need to do is trim off any crusty edges.


Duncan Hinez or Betty Crocker cake mix makes light cakes.

  • 1
    Hello! Please don't post your mail or similar personal information in answers. Also, please make sure you are helping the OP to solve his problem, instead of ranting about what didn't work for you. I'm leaving that as an answer, as it is possible that somebody can make a lighter cake from a box mix than from scratch, but I doubt that it will get much positive reaction.
    – rumtscho
    Jul 31, 2015 at 16:51

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