Simple Somali Sponge Cake With Cardamom & Vanilla

When it comes to hosting guests in Somali culture, there are a few essential treats that must be served alongside the obligatory cup of Shaah (somali tea). Among them are Buskud (traditional Somali pressed cookies) and of course, Doolsho (traditional vanilla and cardamom sponge cake).

Today, I’m excited to share with you my recipe for Somali Doolshe, a delightful sponge cake that pairs perfectly with a cup of tea. In the last three years, I’ve made this cake at least once a month, if not more. Its aroma wafts through the house as it bakes, inviting everyone to indulge in its fluffy goodness. Over the years, I’ve experimented with countless variations of this cake, but I’ve finally landed on the best, most fail-proof method for making . This foolproof recipe guarantees success every time you make it, ensuring that your Somali mom (Hooyo) and guests will be impressed by your baking skills.

What is a Sponge Cake?

Sponge cake, characterized by its airy and delicate crumb, is a very versatile, and light cake. The key to its light and airy texture lies in whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks before adding in the other ingredients.

Somali Cake Ingredients

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Eggs (Separated): By separating the eggs, we can use the whites to give our cake its light, fluffy texture, while the yolks add richness and flavor.
  • Cardamom: This special spice gives our cake its unique Somali flavor
  • Cinnamon: We’ll add ground cinnamon – another quintessential Somali spice that pairs well with Cardamom
  • Nutmeg (Optional): feel free to sprinkle in some ground nutmeg — it’s totally optional but gives our cake some extra warmth and depth
  • Vanilla Extract: I recommend this alcohol-free vanilla extract for anyone looking for a Halal option
  • Granulated Sugar: granulated sugar not only adds sweetness but also helps give our cake its tender texture.
  • All-Purpose Flour: to avoid a dry and dense cake, make sure to measure the flour by scooping it into a measuring cup and leveling the cup, don’t pack the flour down into the cup! Here’s a quick tutorial on how to properly measure flour with measuring cups

A Few Tips to Get Perfect Results Every Time!

To ensure the best results, use room-temperature eggs, as they whip up more easily.

Using a stand mixer makes the job easy, but a hand blender can also be used.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form before gradually adding in the egg yolks, vanilla, and spices. You’ll know you reached stiff peaks when you remove the whisk attachment and a small peak forms at the tip that doesn’t droop, see the image below for reference on what to look for. Here’s a quick tutorial to learn more about stiff vs soft peaks.

Sifting the flour before adding it to the batter helps to aerate it, resulting in a lighter cake. It also helps to prevent lumps in the batter, ensuring a smooth consistency.

Make sure your oven is preheated to the correct temperature before baking the cake. An oven thermometer can help ensure accuracy, as ovens can vary in temperature.

To check if the cake is done, insert a toothpick or cake tester into the center. If it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, the cake is ready. Avoid opening the oven door too frequently during baking, as this can cause fluctuations in temperature and affect the baking process.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely. This helps prevent the cake from collapsing or sticking to the pan.

Pour the batter into a well-oiled bundt pan for a traditional Doolsho. This ensures that the cake bakes evenly and retains its shape.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes a Sponge Cake Light and Fluffy?

The light and fluffy texture of a sponge cake comes from properly whipped eggs, which incorporate air into the batter. Be sure not to overmix the batter, as this can deflate it and result in a denser cake.

Why Did the Cake Collapse?

Overmixing the batter or opening the oven door too frequently while baking can cause the cake to collapse. To avoid this, follow the recipe instructions carefully and resist the urge to peek into the oven too often while the cake is baking.

Ground vs. Regular Cardamom

For an authentic Somali flavor, I recommend using whole cardamom pods and grinding the seeds into powder, however, if you prefer a milder flavor, you can use pre-ground cardamom.

How to store and serve Somali Doolshe Cake

Once cooled, serve the cake with tea and other sweets to impress your guests. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Which Baking spray should I use?

When preparing your baking pan, use sprays that include flour to ensure that the cake releases easily without sticking to the pan. Baking sprays with flour eliminate the need for greasing and flouring the pan separately, saving you time and effort in the baking process. This makes them especially handy when you’re in a rush or preparing multiple batches of baked goods. This spray by Baker’s Joy has been my go-to for so many years and has yet to fail me!

Can I use a different type of pan for baking the sponge cake?

While a bundt pan is traditional for , you can also use a regular round cake pan or even a loaf pan. Just adjust the baking time accordingly.

Can I make this cake ahead of time?

Yes, you can make the cake ahead of time and store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. Just be sure to allow it to cool completely before storing.

Can I freeze the cake?

Yes, you can freeze the cake for longer storage. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place it in a freezer-safe container or bag. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

My cake didn’t rise properly. What went wrong?

Several factors could cause a cake not to rise properly, including outdated baking powder, underwhipped eggs, or overmixing the batter. Make sure to use fresh ingredients and follow the recipe instructions carefully for best results.

Try this Somali Cake recipe for Ramadan or Eid and let me know how it goes!

Somali Doolshe (Cake)

5 from 1 vote


  • 7 eggs separated
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup flour


  • Whip together the 7 egg whites on a high setting until you reach stiff peaks. This step is crucial for incorporating air into the egg whites, which helps to leaven the cake and create its light and airy texture.
  • Lower the power setting of your mixer before slowly adding in the egg yolks, one at a time, ensuring that each yolk is fully incorporated before adding the next. This helps to evenly distribute the yolks throughout the batter without collapsing the fluffy egg whites
  • Add in the vanilla and spices – cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg (nutmeg is optional) – to infuse the cake with warm, aromatic flavors found in a lot of Somali recipes
  • With your mixer still at a low setting, slowly add in the sugar, incorporating it gradually to ensure it dissolves evenly into the batter
  • Sift in the flour slowly, making sure not to overmix the batter. Sifting helps to aerate the flour and prevent lumps, resulting in a smoother, more uniform batter. Be gentle when folding in the flour to avoid overmixing (as you can tell overmixing is a bit no-no in this recipe)
  • Pour the batter into a well-oiled bundt pan, ensuring that it is evenly distributed. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 25-30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Start taking a peak at the cake around the 20-minute mark, all ovens are different so adjust the bake time to your oven temperature.
  • Finally, allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully removing it onto a wire rack to cool completely. This resting period helps the cake to set and makes it easier to release from the pan without sticking. Once cooled, you can enjoy your homemade Somali Doolshe cake with a cup of tea or as a light dessert for any occasion!


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  1. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe after so many failed attempts at other ones and let me tell you this recipe came out perfect!!!!!!! I hate failing at recipes but this one was so straightforward there’s no way to mess up. Try this for yourself it’ll be so delicious!!!!

    1. Thanks so much! I’m so glad to hear it, I’ve spent many attempts getting this recipe just right so this comment makes me so happy! 🙏🏽

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