Homemade Twinkies – Leite’s Culinaria

These homemade Twinkies rival the Hostess original with their fluffy cream filling and sponge cake. Just like the ones from your childhood. But better.

This homemade Twinkies recipe is my own take on the Hostess Twinkie. I rely on my yellow sponge cake, crafted into the familiar oblong shape by creatively folding aluminum foil, and a seven-minute frosting that’s fluffy, meringue-like, and reliably sweet as a cream filling. And I stuff as much filling into the sponge cakes as I can fit without the cakes exploding. That’s kind of surprising, as I’ve never developed even the slightest appreciation, let alone awe, for the snack cake. I’m just not that into her. Still, I find the moist, flavorful crumb and incredibly sweet, fluffy filling of this divine little ditty simply irresistible. Especially if it is eaten slightly warm – I can assure you of that never Happens to a Twinkie right out of the box.—Erin Carlman Weber

What is special about a sponge cake?

Technically, a sponge cake does not contain baking powder or baking soda. Instead of these leavening agents, biscuits get their airiness from lots of whipped egg whites. There are many types of sponge cake, but they all have one thing in common: the fluffy texture. And as the name suggests, these cakes are great for soaking in syrup.

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and set the oven rack to the lower middle position.

  • To make your shiny disposable Twinkie molds, start with a piece of aluminum foil, preferably sturdier, about 14 inches long. It should only be slightly longer than wide. Fold the foil in half lengthwise, and then fold it in half again to form a rectangle about 15cm long and about 15cm wide. Repeat this process to create a dozen rectangles.

  • Place 1 sheet of folded foil on your work surface, long side toward you. Place a standard-sized plastic or glass spice jar on its side in the center of the foil, with the long side of the jar also facing you. Run the long sides of the film up around the jar. The foil doesn’t go all the way around, and that’s okay. Fold the foil nicely and tightly around the top and bottom of the spice jar. In the end it comes to a kind of rock bottom situation. (Cookbook author Todd Wilbur has a video of the process here. If you’re impatient, fast-forward to 1:10 where the action begins.) Repeat this process until you have 12 Twinkie foil shapes. Spray the molds with a disproportionately generous amount of non-stick spray, or brush the molds with vegetable oil with your fingertips. Place the Twinkie molds on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

  • In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter over low heat until butter melts. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.

  • Separate the eggs, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer or whisk), and reserve the yolks in another bowl. Beat the egg whites on the highest setting. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of sugar and cream of tartar and continue beating until egg whites reach soft, moist peaks.

  • Place the beaten egg whites in a large bowl and place the yolks in the bowl of the stand mixer. There is no need to clean the bowl (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, simply place the yolks in a separate large bowl). Beat the yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and pale lemon in color (about 5 minutes). Add the beaten egg white to the yolk, but do not mix.

  • Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg whites, then mix on low speed for just 10 seconds (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, until combined but not thoroughly combined). Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in the batter and pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in until the batter is free of flour and the egg whites and yolks are evenly mixed (about 8 strokes).

  • Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared pans and fill each with about 3/4-inch thick batter. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until cake tops are light brown and firm to the touch. Place the mold with the molds on a wire rack and let the cakes cool in the molds.

  • Remove each cake from the foil just before filling. Using the tip of a chopstick, poke three holes in the bottom of each cake, just like the bottom of real Twinkies. Gently move the tip of the chopstick back and forth to make room for the filling. (You can also see this in action from minute 3.)

  • Place the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small tip, about 1/4″ in diameter. Squirt the frosting into the holes you created in the bottom of the cake. As you fill each cake, hold it in the palm of your hand and apply gentle pressure so you can feel the cake expand. Be careful not to overfill the cake or it will burst.

  • Unlike real Twinkies, these don’t last forever. It is best to serve them slightly warm.

Portion: 1 portionCalories: 144 kcalCarbohydrates: 19 GProtein: 4 GFat: 6 GSaturated Fatty Acids: 3 GPolyunsaturated fat: 1 GMonounsaturated fatty acids: 2 Gtrans fats: 0.2 GCholesterol: 88 mgSodium: 80 mgPotassium: 86 mgFiber: 0.2 GSugar: 13 GVitamin A: 241 IUCalcium: 32 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutritional information is calculated automatically and should therefore only be used as an approximation.

Photo © 2011. All rights reserved.

Recipe tester reviews

It was so much fun making and eating these homemade Twinkies. I took the easy route and made muffins instead of the traditional Twinkie shape. I also made them gluten free. The result was wonderfully delicious, even if it didn’t taste quite like I remembered from the Twinkies – but it was also quite a while ago. The sponge cake was light and fluffy and the filling was lovely. The batter had to be spooned into the muffin cups rather than poured as it was too thick to pour. Since I switched this dough to gluten-free, I can’t say if that’s typical of the regular version. The baking time was also a little longer for me at 20 minutes. To fill these, I stuck a tip of pastry into the bottom of the cupcake. These quickly disappeared and everyone was delighted and happy to eat them.

Even if you don’t like Twinkies, this homemade Twinkies recipe is a real hit for the sponge cake alone. It was easy to make, tasted great and I can see myself using it in other recipes in the future. I filled the batter into a muffin pan. The filling was ready in about 3 minutes, although I whipped it for the full 5 minutes to see what would happen. Although the filling got a little lumpier, it didn’t affect the final texture when piped into the cake. The filling was more than adequate and could have been reduced by a third. After I filled my pan, I also had cake batter left over, so I poured the remaining batter into a couple of bouchon pans that served as a nice approximation of the Twinkie pan.

This homemade Twinkies recipe is one of the best sponge cake recipes I’ve ever tried. It’s fantastic because it’s lightweight yet very moist. 7 Minute Frosting is super easy to make and works like a mock Twinkie filling. Overall, Twinkies are way, way cuter and less squishy than these homemade Twinkies. My kids preferred these plain, with no filling, while I preferred them with a jam filling and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, similar to my mom’s jelly rolls. Yummy! I would make the sponge cake again and again because it was fabulous. I would also use it for tiramisu.

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