Homemade Twinkies

“An enduring American icon.”

So said President Clinton as he dropped a Twinkie in the millennium time capsule back in 1999. I don’t think he meant “enduring” in quite the way the packaged snack’s rumored 30-year shelf life implies, although if you’re stashing a dessert to be unearthed decades from now, a cellophane-wrapped tubular cake seems a far better prospect than a freshly baked apple pie.

Ever since Twinkies’ 1930 debut into our national snack consciousness, the golden sponge cake with artificially flavored cream filling has woven its way into the fabric of American culture. Presidential accolades aside, Twinkies have found devotees in droves and made cameos in Ghostbusters, Sleepless in Seattle, and even Archie Bunker’s lunchbox.

Everyone loves Twinkies. Except me.

I’m just not that into them. Even as an indiscriminate sweets-loving kid whose crunchy, Birkenstock-wearing mother sent her to school with carrot sticks, peanut butter with honey on whole wheat, and an intense craving for the forbidden, I never particularly cared for Twinkies. The little yellow cakes with the preternatural staying power never beckoned.

I think my lack of attraction might have something to do with the cream filling, as I’ve never met a sponge cake I didn’t like. Though I’m not against gobs of sugar of unknown provenance, that filling was sickly sweet and strangely waxy and couldn’t hold a candle to the made-from-scratch buttercream I was used to at home. Maybe it was mom’s frosting prowess, and not her disapproval of processed foods per se, that kept me and Twinkies apart all these years. (Thanks, Mom. Really.)

So just in time for the classic confection’s 81st birthday, I came up with my own riff. It includes my favorite yellow sponge cake, coaxed into that familiar oblong shape via some creative tin-foil folding, and as much airy, meringue-y, vanilla-tinged, still-really-quite-sweet seven-minute frosting, er, filling, as the cake can contain without bursting. Though I’ve never cultivated even a meager appreciation for the star-spangled snack cake, let alone anything resembling the requisite reverence, I find the moist, flavorful crumb and gobsmackingly sweet, fluffy filling of this divine little ditty outright irresistible. Especially when eaten slightly warm—something I can assure you will never happen with a Twinkie straight from the wrapper.–Erin Carlman Weber

LC What Shape is Your Twinkie? Note

Take a look at the recipe below. Yes, we know what you’re thinking. You could bypass the whole arts-and-craft moment of jury-rigging oblong baking molds out of aluminum foil and instead make do with a standard muffin or cupcake tin, in which case you’d divvy the batter among a dozen muffin liners, tweak the baking time to 13 to 17 minutes, and slather the cooled muffins with Seven-Minute Frosting. Although natch, this approach will suffice only if you don’t mind a squat cupcake that’s sort of like a blond Hostess CupCake minus the squiggle of icing on top. Far simpler and more authentic than either of these options is to embrace your inner kiddish cravings and invest in a Twinkie mold. Far funner is to just embrace Howdy Doody’s approach….



Special Equipment: spice jars, chopstick, piping bag or gun

Homemade Twinkies Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 50 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 12 Twinkie look-alikes

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk, preferably whole
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • Seven-Minute Filling, er, Frosting

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position.
  • 2. To make your shiny, single-use Twinkie molds, start with a piece of aluminum foil, preferably heavy-duty, that’s approximately 14 inches long. It should be just a little longer than it is wide. Fold the foil in half lengthwise, then fold it in half again to create a rectangle that’s about 6 inches long and 7 inches wide. Repeat to make a dozen rectangles.
  • 3. Place 1 sheet of folded foil on your work surface, with the long side facing you. Place a standard-size plastic or glass spice jar on its side in the center of the foil, the jar’s long side also facing you. Bring the long sides of the foil up around the jar. The foil won’t reach all the way around, and that’s okay. Fold the foil in around both top and bottom ends of the spice jar, nice and tight. You’ll end up with a sort of trough situation. (Cookbook author Todd Wilbur has a video of the process here; if you’re impatient, fast forward to 1:10, where the action starts.) Repeat until you have 12 foil Twinkie molds. Spritz the molds with an obscenely generous amount of nonstick spray or use your fingertips to coat the molds with vegetable oil. Place the Twinkie molds on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan.
  • 4. Whisk the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
  • 5. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter melts. Remove from the heat add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.
  • 6. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, a large mixing bowl) and reserving the yolks in another bowl. Beat the whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the whites reach soft, moist peaks.
  • 7. Transfer the beaten egg whites to a large bowl and add the egg yolks to the standing mixer bowl—there’s no need to clean the bowl (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, simply place the egg yolks in a separate large bowl). Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and a pale lemon color, about 5 minutes. Add the beaten egg whites to the yolks, but do not mix.
  • 8. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg whites and then mix everything on low speed for just 10 seconds (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, until blended but not thoroughly combined). Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in one side of the batter, and pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed, about 8 strokes.
  • 9. Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared molds, filling each with about 3/4 inch of batter. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan containing the molds to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool in the molds.
  • 10. Just before filling, remove each cake from the foil. Using the end of a chopstick, poke three holes in the bottom of each cake, just like in the bottom of real Twinkies. Wiggle the tip of the chopstick around quite a lot to make room for the filling. (Again, you can see this in action here, beginning at minute 3.)
  • 11. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fit with a small tip (about 1/4 inch across). Pipe the frosting into the holes you created in the bottom of the cakes. As you fill each cake, hold it in your hand and press your palm gently around it so you can feel the cake expand, taking care not to overfill and crack the cake.
  • 12. Unlike real Twinkies, these won’t last indefinitely. They’re best served still slightly warm.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Victoria Filippi

Apr 05, 2011

This is one of the best sponge cake recipes I’ve tried. It’s fantastic because it’s light, yet really moist. The 7-minute frosting is quite easy to make and works as a mock-Twinkie filling, but overall, I don’t think these tasted much like Twinkies. Although they were still very good, Twinkies are much, much sweeter, and less spongy. My kids preferred them plain, with no filling, whereas I preferred them with a jam filling and a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar, much like my mother’s jelly rolls. Delicious! I’d make the sponge cake again (and again and again) because it was fabulous. I also would use it for tiramisu.

Testers Choice
Tamiko Lagerwaard

Apr 05, 2011

These were so much fun to make and eat. I took the easy way out and made them into muffins instead of the traditional Twinkie shape. I also made them gluten-free. The results were delightfully tasty, although not quite the way I remembered Twinkies tasting (it’s been a long while). The sponge was light and airy, and the filling was delightful, although a bit sweet. The batter had to be spooned, not poured, into the muffin cups, as it was too thick for pouring. Since I converted this batter to gluten-free, I can’t say if this is typical of the regular version. The baking time was also a bit longer for me at 20 minutes. To fill these, I inserted a pastry tip into the bottom of the cupcake. They went quickly, and all were delighted and happy to eat them.

Testers Choice
Steve Subera

Apr 05, 2011

Even if you don’t like Twinkies, this recipe is a keeper just for the sponge cake alone. It was easy to make, tasted great, and I can see using it in other recipes in the future. I poured the batter into a muffin tin, and the bake time was only 13 minutes instead of 15 to 17. The filling came together in about 3 minutes, although I beat it for the full 5 minutes to see what would happen. While the filling got somewhat chunkier, it didn’t affect the final texture when piped into the cake. There was more than enough filling, and it could have been reduced by a third. I also had leftover cake batter after filling my cupcake tin, so I poured the batter in two bouchon molds, which served as a nice approximation to the Twinkie shape.


Comments
Comments
  1. Greg Bulmash says:

    Ahhh, it’s the beaten whites that would make this difficult to convert into an egg-free version (my son has egg allergies and we do not prepare anything with eggs in my kitchen).

    OTOH, I’m sure some crafty Vegan has developed an eggless sponge cake recipe I could use as a starting point in a quest for an eggless Twinkie. I might just have to take this as a challenge.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      We’ll be waiting to hear your tale, Greg. You know, you may wish to take a cue from the military’s MRE formulas, which have no eggs, either. Although then we’re talking multi-syllabic chemical compounds that probably are as good for your son as eggs. Never mind.

      • Greg Bulmash says:

        Renee, I read that piece you ran on the military brownies and was simultaneously fascinated and horrified. I think I’ll stick with starting from a vegan adaptation when I want to do eggless baking.

        I’ve already tracked down some vegan sponge cake recipes, although I think I may have to experiment to make them more Twinkie-like.

        I’m sure my two boys will gladly gobble up the rejects. :-)

        And since sponge cake is okay on Passover, someone might want to try this recipe using matzoh cake flour (a more finely ground form of matzoh meal — you could probably put regular matzoh meal in the food processor for a couple of long pulses and then sift it if you can’t find the commercial stuff).

        • Deanya B. says:

          Did you ever come up with a good vegan version? If so, please share :)

          • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

            Hi Deanya, fingers crossed that Greg has been in the kitchen whipping up vegan Twinkies.

  2. wow, that is brilliant! Who doesn’t love twinkies?

  3. Lauren says:

    This is such a fun idea! I never ate a Twinkie just because I was sketched out by what crazy chemicals and preservatives must be squeezed into them, but THIS kind of Twinkie looks right up my alley.

    • Erin Carlman Weber, LC Intern says:

      Yes, all pronounceable ingredients in our version! Do let us know what you think of the results.

  4. Homemade TWINKIES?!?! Yes, please! I haven’t had a Twinkie in YEARS, but these are calling my name!

    {And thanks for the hostess cupcake shout-out!}

  5. Susan says:

    I’m with Erin. I was never enticed by a Twinkie and once I traded for one in the school cafeteria, I was unimpressed. They had no icing, no squiggle and the filling was gross (I’m using my kid words here). My mom wouldn’t buy any of the store bought sweets except (a brand called) Mothers Oatmeal Cookies and Ginger Snaps. Another yuck. Is that child neglect? It felt like it ;) Hope you don’t mind my using the sponge cake recipe to make a Boston Cream Pie. Now, that’s my idea of a good use for this raved about sponge cake. Twinkie, schminkie!

    • Erin Carlman Weber, LC Intern says:

      Susan, I’d get fruit leather for treats in my school lunch. I’m with you. Enjoy the Boston cream pie. Excellent use for the sponge cake!

  6. Wow, impressive…they look perfect!

  7. I’m going to include this in my Copycat Club round up next month–May 7/11. thanks, hope that is OK.

    • Erin Carlman Weber, LC Intern says:

      We’d be honored! How does the Copycat Club work? What other treats have you done?

  8. karen says:

    I guess the fact that the recipe was for a sponge cake should’ve been a red flag since I detest it. I guess I thought it would somehow taste different, haha. It was easy to make but, yeah, it definitely doesn’t taste like a twinkie. I do think the filling is NOM, though, so at least this wasn’t a total loss :)

    • David Leite says:

      karen, I tried emailing you to go deeper into your experience with the recipe and perhaps to suggest something else, but Gmail says your account doesn’t exist.

      I’m so terribly sorry you didn’t like the recipe. We were aiming for a gourmet version, if you will, by not using any trans fats or artificial flavors and ingredients. I’m glad that the filling was nom. I hope you won’t hold this against us?!

      Have you tried the Sno-Balls recipe? I developed that, and I think it’s better than the original.

  9. Aaron says:

    Wow. this recipe looks (and sounds) delicious, in fact I plan on making into a Sunday breakfast for my family. ^_^

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Aaron, we think homemade Twinkies sound like a marvelous breakfast for your brood. (Lucky family!) We’ll be waiting to hear how it went…

  10. I want those. Right. Now.

    {{PS…thanks so much for the link!}} :)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      bridget {bake at 350}, you are so very welcome! And yes, you are right to want them now. When you whip up a batch, kindly let us know what you think….

  11. Patty K says:

    Would this be a good cake to use for a jelly roll? If so should I make any adjustment in the amount of cake batter? I can’t tell if this would fill a jelly roll pan.
    thanks

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Patty, proportion wise, the yield of this recipe should be fine in a jelly roll pan. It is, however, a bit wetter than a normal jelly roll batter. If you give it a try, please let us know. We’re curious.

  12. Teresa says:

    On the TV they can’t stop talking about the end of the Twinkie, the plant is shutting down or going out of business. It is hard to believe that Twinkies will be no more. BUT with this wonderful recipe they don’t have to be.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Our thoughts exactly, Teresa. And minus all those multisyllabic preservatives. All triviality aside, though, our thoughts are with the thousands who are newly without jobs as a result of Hostess’s demise.

  13. Phil says:

    R.I.P. Hostess. Now that we can’t buy Twinkies anymore, I’ve got to try this!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Let us know when you do, Phil. Though we test our recipes over and over again prior to sharing them on the site, we’re always curious to hear what readers think….

  14. Lisa says:

    With all the news and drama over Hostess’ demise, I made these tonight! Thanks for the recipe. They turned out nice, the filling a bit too sweet. Cute.

    Homemade Twinkies

  15. teresa says:

    I have not tried the cake, it sounds great. Now the frosting, no. It is not 7-minute frosting inside those Twinkies. It is a creamy filling and it is far from 7-minute. I thank you for the cake, and will try it. I am 68 and I still eat them, lol. My fav cake!!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Teresa, we look forward to hearing what you think! And of course you’re right, actual Twinkies do not contain Seven-Minute Frosting. But as we note above, we just sorta felt the need to make them a smidge more sophisticated, though to some that may seem heresy. Do let us know what you think…

  16. Renee says:

    The author is not the only person in American who doesn’t like Twinkies. I’ve never liked them—-although I admit a bizarre craving now and then for Zingers, which aren’t all that different. Regardless of my unAmerican stance on Twinkies (and Oreos, which I also don’t understand the American fixation of), I’m sad that the labor dispute led to the loss of so many jobs. Now, if someone could come up with a good copycat for HoHos or the original McDonald’s fried cherry pies, they’d have my attention. Thanks.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Renee, that’s what’s so wonderfully wacky about cravings—they’re just so darn unique and inexplicable. While we don’t have the actual McDonald’s recipe, you may wish to try this recipe for Homemade Pop Tarts, which I suspect may come close when hot out of the oven…?

      • Renee says:

        True, that!

        I saw that recipe last night and wondered if they would work deep-fried. I mean, if you’re going to eat junk, may as well go all the way and give up any pretense of virtue about it, right? It was the texture of the McD’s original pies that made them so addictive! I knew they were (technically) awful, but there was just something about them right out of the fryer….

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Oooh, I like the way you’re thinking…! You know, I do think that the Toaster Tarts recipe would work deep-fried. It’s not a terribly dense dough, so my hunch is the exterior would puff slightly and turn golden at about the same time the inner layers turn flakey, although I have yet to try it. Just be certain to seal the edges of the dough really well—perhaps even make fold the dough over so there’s one less potential leakage line? Renee, if you give it a whirl, by all means, let us know. In the meantime, I’ll be trying this shortly….

          • Renee says:

            I think it’s time to dig out the deep fryer.

            • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

              Heh. I’ll be standing pie, I mean, by! (That was an actual typo, I swear. Darn subconscious…) Do let me know. I’m holding off on the pie. My husband may be getting toaster tarts instead for his bday…

  17. warbaby says:

    Only the good lord knows what is really in Hostess Twinkies. These look much better to eat. I cannot wait to make them. Thanks.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Exactly, Warbaby. No multisyllabic ingredients here. We promise. Just a delicate sponge cake and a sweet seven-minute frosting-slash-filling. Do let us know what you think…!

  18. Jamie Kunn says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I will give them a try haha. Have you seen the crazy eBay listings for Twinkies? Also sites like http://www.getyourtwinkie.com/. People love these things!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re welcome, Jamie! And yes, these little snack cakes have inspired quite a large following over the decades…funny how things from our childhood just sorta stick with us that way.

  19. DeidraJ says:

    I’m with you on never being a fan of Twinkies. It’s the waxiness of that filling. Ick! I find the same with most Hostess and Little Debbie Snacks. I would LOVE to make these for the fam as a farewell to a childhood classic! I never bought them as an adult, but I do remember scarfing down those chocolate cupcakes and Sno Balls while my sister—very loyal to her Twinkies—looked over with a smile as we thanked Mom for our sweet treats. Let’s not forget that we’re losing WonderBread too. How awful for everyone involved. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      DeidraJ, we think you’ll like this filling, which actually a simple but sophisticated Seven-Minute Frosting. As for those mounds of pink fluff, you didn’t ask for a Sno Balls recipe, but we thought that you may like one…

  20. Rachel says:

    I always thought that there was some lemon flavor in Twinkies. No?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Rachel, we never picked up the lilt of lemon in Twinkies. Just a slightly chemical smack. Anyone else think they detected lemon? Of course, if you wish you could add some very finely grated lemon zest to the sponge cake batter….

  21. kitblu says:

    Two comments:
    1. In Canada, Twinkies are made by a different company and will not be affected by Hostess’s problems. Get ‘em here folks – from Canada, I mean.

    2. My doctor showed a film comparing pure chocolate to Twinkies. A high-temperature torch (like that used to cut through steel) was applied to the chocolate, which melted and then evaporated. When the torch was applied to the Twinkie, nothing happened. The Twinkie was unaffected by the heat of the torch. Digestion requires a process similar to heat to absorb nutrients from food. Therefore, one can conclude that no nourishment can be obtained from Twinkies. Many of you will acknowledge that but still consume Twinkies because “they taste good”.

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks, kitblu.

      1. For those who need ‘em, you know where to go.

      2. I can guarantee that a torch put to our Twinkie would incinerate it in a millisecond. Nothing but homemade goodness.

  22. Hostess with the mostess says:

    I made these tonight and all I can say is WOW! These are fantastic. This recipe rocks. Thanks for sharing!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You are incredibly welcome, Hostess with the mostess! Happy to oblige. Yours is exactly the sorta enthusiastic response we were gunning for….

  23. Penny McCloskey says:

    For anyone who wants to invest, the Twinkie Pan is the best way to get the original shape we’re used to. However, when you get the pan, the insert states that it is not designed to be an exact replica for the shape of a Twinkie, and the recipes included will not result in a true Twinkie. To test it, I put a real Twinkie in the pan hollow, and it’s true, the pan is both deeper and longer than a real Twinkie. But still, I think I’ll rock if I use your recipe and their pan!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Penny, we love your curious spirit! Nice reporting. We, too, think that duo will rock—let us know when you try it!

  24. Senda S. says:

    Does anyone have a report on the cake as a jelly roll? My husband’s favorite dessert was a Twinkie cake at a restaurant that is no longer open in Denver called 975. They used to make a jelly roll and roll it up around the cream filling. His birthday is Friday, so I thought I might try to do a mimic with the recipe, just changing the shape. Would love to hear if the cake is happy and crack free as a large sheet!

  25. Dale says:

    Wow !!! This sounds Great ! Cannot wait to try !!! Thanks again ! :) Dale

  26. addbac says:

    I’ll have to try these but I do have concern. I’m older, mid 50′s in fact, when I was a kid the Twinkie tasted different. It was awesome. The filling however, was not “frosting” but a light delicate cream and there was more of it than the later version. When I got older, that seemed to change. Butterfrosting wouldn’t do, too heavy, too sweet. Also, the cupcakes had a frosting on top that had a much better chocolate frosting, later years, it tasted like wax and they used less of the same cream filling. The price went up, the quality down. Sad, but it’s why myself and those I know stopped buying the product. I hope they reinstate the earlier recipes.

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