Mary’s Powder Puffs

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Light, fluffy and oh so delicious, Powder Puffs (aka sponge drops) are so easy to make and are even better when frozen ahead of time.

Mary Wilmshurst was a regular contributor to foodlovers back in the early days, around 2004.  Aside from engaging in our forum conversations, Mary was most known for her Powder Puff recipe.
Brooke, Mary’s granddaughter recently made contact with us to find out more about her grandmother’s interest here.  It prompted me to bake and publish Mary’s recipe with only one tweak.
Mary uses 1 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
I have changed that to 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, only because I don’t usually have cream of tartar in the pantry.

Yield: makes 15 pairs


  • 2 eggs separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3rd cup castor sugar,
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla,
  • 1/3rd cup cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour (level)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (or 1 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda)
  • jam or citrus curd
  • thickened cream or whipped cream
  • icing sugar to dust


Preheat the oven to 190 C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Whip egg whites and salt. Gradually add sugar and beat well. Stir in vanilla, egg yolks and sifted dry ingredients. Place in teaspoon lots on the tray.
Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.
Best baked 1 tray at a time in the centre of oven for even colour.
Remove immediately  to a wire rack to cool.

Sandwich with whipped cream and jam (or curd)
Place in a container and refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours or longer.
The longer the better. I do them the night before for use the next day, or at this point put them in the freezer. They puff up and become soft and light.
Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving

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16 thoughts on “Mary’s Powder Puffs

  1. Tried to make these, mine spread out and puffed up while in the oven and then went very flat after coming out. What did I do wrong I wonder. However they did taste good, but disappointed they didn’t look great like yours. A bit reluctant to try again although it is a simple easy recipe. Did everything by the recipe and oven temperature was right.

  2. When you say, at this point put them in the freezer, that is after you mentioned sandwiching them with curd or cream. Can they be frozen with the cream or curd in them?

      • Tried these, mine spread out a little and puffed up while in the oven, but went flat when they came out.
        Followed the recipe exactly, oven temp was correct. They did taste great but disappointed they didn’t look great. Very reluctant to try again, any ideas what could’ve gone wrong.

  3. Hi thanks for repeating that recipe. Funny, many many years ago my Great Aunt who was a cook always used cream of tartar and baking soda. She was a terrifically good cook.
    Kind regards
    Pamela. NZ

    • Pamela I wonder if there is any difference as baking powder is a mix of the two. I am thinking there probably is as when you use the separate ingredients you have control over exactly how much of each you are putting in.

  4. The recipe I have been making for over 50 years has soda only and they cook with a smooth surface on top, not bobbly
    I leave 5 hours filled and of course the old fashioned round bottom patty tins give the oyster shape, but always with smooth surface top and bottom

    • Thank goodness you pointed that out Cynthia – thanks so much.
      Sometimes gremlins change things when they are posted and I was writing in a hurry and didn’t check.
      It is in there now!