Chocolate Italian Sponge Cake

This chocolate Italian sponge cake is quite fast and easy to prepare, once you understand exactly what you have to do.

Chocolate sponge cake on a white plate and a whisk next to it.

Italian sponge cake (Pan di Spagna) is used in desserts like cassata, zuppa inglese and tiramisù. It can be soaked with your favorite mixture and layered with cream fillings or jam, covered with fondant, or just eaten on its own sprinkled with icing sugar.

You only need 4 ingredients: eggs, granulated sugar, cake flour and unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s made without butter, oil and baking powder; it relies solely on well-beaten eggs for its leavening.

My tips to get a perfect chocolate Italian sponge cake:

  1. You need extra large eggs (each egg should weight approximately 70 grams/2.46 ounces) at room temperature. Take them out from the fridge 20 minutes before you need them, or soak them for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar for at least 15 minutes, until the mixture becomes clear, triples in volume, and reaches the ribbon stage.
  3. Use cake flour, if it’s not available in the store, you can make it at home (check this tutorial by Joy the Baker).
  4. Sift the flour and cocoa powder on top of the egg mixture, a little at a time, and fold it gently with a wooden spoon. Don’t pour it all at once or it will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Don’t open the oven while the cake is cooking, or the cake will deflate.
  6. When the cake is ready, turn off the oven and leave it inside for another ten minutes (put a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it slightly open).
Chocolate sponge cake and a bowl of egg shells in the background

You can prepare the chocolate Italian sponge cake up to 3 days ahead, wrap it in cling film. and keep it in the fridge. You can also wrap it in cling film and freeze it for up to a month. To defrost it, take it out from the freezer the night before and thaw it unwrapped at room temperature.

This recipe is for a 18-20 cm / 7-8 inches baking pan. If you are using a larger pan, use the follow ratios:

  • 15 cm / 6 inches pan: 3 eggs, 90 grams granulated sugar, 75 cake flour, 15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  22 cm /9 inches pan : 5 eggs, 150 grams granulated sugar, 120 grams cake flour, 30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 24 cm / 10 inches: 6 eggs, 180 grams granulated sugar, 145 cake flour, 35 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 26 cm / 11 inches: 7 eggs, 210 grams granulated sugar, 170 grams cake flour, 40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder

If you try this recipe let me know what you think! Leave a comment and don’t forget to take a picture and share it on my Facebook page or tag it #aseasyasapplepie on Instagram!

Chocolate sponge cake on a white plate and a whisk next to it.
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5 from 25 votes
Chocolate Italian Sponge Cake
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hr
 
Author: As Easy As Apple Pie
Course: Dessert
You only need 4 ingredients (eggs, granulated sugar, cake flour and unsweetened cocoa powder) to make this delicious chocolate cake.

Ingredients for a 18-20 cm (7-8 inches) pan. For step by step pictures check here

Ingredients
  • 120 grams (½ cup+1½ tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 4 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 100 grams (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons - if you use all-purpose flour, 100 grams = 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon) cake flour sifted
  • 20 grams (3 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Take the eggs out from the fridge ahead of time or soak them for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (338 degrees F).
  3. Butter and flour a 20 cm (8 inch) pan, or spray it with baking spray.
  4. Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  5. Beat the eggs until very fluffy and pale yellow (about 15 minutes on medium/high speed). To test that it has been beaten enough, let some of the mixture fall into the bowl; if it remains "sitting" on top, that means that it's ready.
  6. Sift the flour and cocoa powder on top of the egg mixture, a little at a time, and fold it gently with a wooden spoon, from bottom to top.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Don't smooth the top or bang the pan on the counter; leave it as it is!
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Don't open the oven for the first 20 minutes!)
  9. Turn off the oven but leave the chocolate Italian sponge cake inside for at least 10 minutes so it can cool down slowly (put a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it slightly open). After that, remove it from the oven, let it cool for 10 more minutes, loosen around the edges with a knife, and then flip the cake on a wire rack upside down (without the pan) to cool completely.
  10. Enjoy!
Notes

© as easy as Apple Pie. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Nutrition Information
Amount per serving (60g) — Calories: 159, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 36mg, Carbohydrates: 29.8g, Fiber: 1.3g, Sugar: 17.4g, Protein: 5.2g

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #aseasyasapplepie. We’d love to see what you come up with!

Do you prefer a vanilla or lemon Italian sponge cake? Give this recipe a try.

Italian sponge cake - Pan di Spagna You only need 4 ingredients (eggs, granulated sugar, cake flour and unsweetened cocoa powder) to make this delicious chocolate cake. #baking #cake #chocolate #chocolatecake #italianfood #italian #italianrecipes #spongecake | aseasyasapplepie.com

116 comments on “Chocolate Italian Sponge Cake”

  1. What a perfect looking sponge cake. Love that you gave the recipes for different sized cake pans too. Beautiful photography 🙂

    • Thank you Moya! 🙂

      • Would this work for a tres Leches cake in a 9 x 13 pan?

      • Hi, Sherry! You can use the ingredients for a 12 inch round pan (9 extra large eggs, 220 grams (2 cups minus 1/2 tablespoon) cake flour (if you use all-purpose flour 220 grams = 1 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon), 50 grams ( 6 1/2 tablespoons) cocoa powder, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) granulated sugar.
        The baking time will be longer, check it after 45 minutes. 🙂

  2. Simply gorgeous, what a beautiful Italian cake you have you have made. I would love to try this recipe.

  3. Hi Elena! I followed your recipe to serve as the chocolate layers of my black forest cake and it turned out wonderfully, so thank you for sharing your recipe! If you like you can see how I used it here: https://foodscrabble.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/black-forest-cake-version-ii/ It will be my go-to recipe to use now ^^ I’ve been looking for a recipe for a while now that doesn’t use butter for the sponge but still gives me a lovely chocolate flavour and your recipe has been the best! Thank you again.

  4. It doesn´t need butter or oil?

  5. Can I use a springform pan or the one I’m using for angel cake ?
    I only have small cake pan 1,5 inch…

    Thanks!

  6. Hello Elena, thanks for very detailed recipe and all the tips. The cake came out very spongy and light. I did lemon curd icing garnished with roasted almonds for my twin daughters’ birthday! But I added 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1-1/2 oz melted butter buttert to your recipe. Everyone loved it. Wish I could post a picture of the cake.

  7. Hi! I just made it; it’s still in the oven. Yours looks so perfectly flat and great. Just peeped into the oven and mine looked slighty domed. Did you trim it?

  8. Hi, Lucy! The temperature is fine…. next time check if it’s ready after 35 minutes as every oven is different.
    Did you just eat it plain or did you soak it? Keep in mind that it’s not a moist cake, it’s supposed to be a little bit dry.
    Let me know how it goes next time 🙂

  9. Hi,
    Can you torte this cake? If sp, do you think it would hold up making it 3 layers? I need height but not necessarily more cake. I was going to use a buttercream for filling.

    Thanks

    • Hi, Patti! For better results, cut the sponge cake when is cold. It’s better if you prepare it the day before, wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge overnight.

  10. Hi Elena, This cake looks perfect! if I wanted to make a mocha cake, could I add instant espresso powder. If so how much? Thanks so much.

  11. Hi Elena,
    I have been looking for a base cake and I want to experiment in making a chocolate mango mousse cupcake. Do you think this will work? Your opinion is very much appreciated. Thank you

    Joyce

  12. This cake looks so tall.
    Do you use a double deep pan?

  13. Hi just wondering if that temperature is for a fan forced oven or normal

  14. could we substitute sugar for date paste?

  15. Hi! I want to make this for my daughter’s birthday (looks scrumptious!). Can the extra large eggs be substituted with large ones? How many would I need for a 12-inch, 9×13 cake? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Linda!
      For a 12-inch cake, you will need 9 eggs. Each egg should weight approximately 70 grams/2.46 ounces with the shell. If you don’t have a scale, I am sure that large eggs will work just fine. So you will need: 9 eggs, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) granulated sugar, 220 grams cake flour (2 cups minus 1/2 tablespoon) or 1 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 50 grams (6 1/2 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder.
      The baking time will be longer, check it after 45 minutes.

      Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  16. Hi I’m interested in cooking this cake for a function using an oblobg tin roughly 33cm x 24cm x 5cm. Are you able to give me the break down of ingredients and cooking times. Thanks

    • Hi, Kelly! You will need: 10 eggs, 300 grams (1 1/2 cup) granulated sugar, 240 grams (2 cups+ 1 1/2 tablespoon) cake flour, 60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder.
      Baking time will be slightly longer, check it after 45 minutes.

  17. Hi,I just saw this post and I’m already trying it. I have soft wheat flour now which I’m using…fingers crossed….hopefully it will turn out great.
    Ps…I like the fact that you have recipies /measurements for other pans. That’s so cool and thoughtful.

  18. Hey Elena,

    Glad I found this post. I’ve got the cake baking right now. I ran across this looking for a lighter sponge cake than the one I use for my black forest (the recipe i have is delish but dense for a sponge cake and includes quite a bit of butter). My brother requested a choco-raspberry cake for his birthday and since it’ll be partnering a dark choco-stout cake (my dad shares the birthday), I wanted a really light chocolate cake. Boy did that turn out to be hard to find! But this came together beautifully, and I’m using it as the base for a raspberry-mousse layer cake tomorrow.

    Thank you!

  19. Hey,

    I somehow didn’t read properly and measured my cocoa and sugar together, so now I have all the dry stuff together… and ideas of what I could make with it?

    I started over to do this cake this time, but now I have another mix to use up haha

  20. Hi Elana this Samia ,I had tryed the sponge cake before but I added baking powder ,little bit baking soda &I add One table spoon coconut powder .After I whisked the eggs with sugar perfect .I start to fold the flour mix gradually the batter deflate &became very thick .The ingredient were 5eggs,half cup granulated sugar &done cub flour .What was the cause Ed the deflation ………your opinion is very much appreciated……thanks

    • Hi Samia! I have no idea why that happened as you didn’t follow my recipe. You added extra ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, coconut powder) you put less sugar (1/2 cup instead of 3/4 cup) less flour… it’s a completely different recipe. 🙂

  21. I’m a new baker from Kenya and I love your recipes!!!It’s my go to sponge cake recipe and it’s easy to make.good work!!

  22. Hi…you ve explained the techniques so beautifully,am happy I could finally make this awesome cake …am your newest follower …I think this is the best writeup on this cake I have came across ever even better than any video tutorial ..thank you very much !!! Appreciate it so much ..good day!

  23. Hello! I found your recipe and it looks absolutely delicious. I do have a question my oven does not go to 338 degrees F the closest I can get my oven to that tempurture it 340 degrees will I need to adjust the cooking time? I am really looking forward to making this and I want it to come out looking as perfect as yours does.

    • Hi Anna! 340 degrees F is perfect, you don’t have to make any adjustments. Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions I am happy to help (you can leave a comment or send me an email) 🙂

  24. Hi Elena! I am happy I found this recipe, this was my first experiment of a sponge with no butter! It turned out great! I only needed one thin layer for my cake so I used the 3-eggs proportion recipe in a 9 inch pan. Like I said, I was generally happy with the result – the only thing, I found it a bit too dry and less “fluffy, soft’ than I expected… Was that because I did not adjust the cooking time? I baked exactly 40 mins at 340F… anything else I might have done wrong? Or is it a normal result when one does not use butter? Should I have moisted it with some syrup?

  25. Thank you for recipe. Easy to make. Perfect texture and flavour. Also great idea for info in diffrent sizes of cake

  26. Hi Elena,

    Very impressive cake! 🙂 How come the top is so very flat? I just made a sponge cake (following a recipe that calls for eggs, buttermilk, baking powder, regular flour, sugar and chocolate powder) and the result was absolutely nothing like yours.

    I understand that the height of a sponge depends on how well the eggs and sugar are beaten, but what causes most other sponges to develop a domed top?

    Also, would I ruin this recipe by adding more chocolate powder? We really like dark chocolate cakes.

    Many thanks,

    Emma

    • Hi Emma!
      If you want to increase the amount of chocolate powder, decrease the flour.

      The top is very flat because you flip the cake on a wired rack upside down (so the domed top becomes the bottom of the cake) 🙂

  27. Hello
    Iloke it to much iwand to do it for my son BR.
    I have pan 25cm. What ingreediens come with it plz?

    • Hi Yara!

      For a 25 cm pan you will need: 6 extra large eggs, 180 grams (3/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons) granulated sugar, 145 flour(1 1/4 cup minus 1/2 tablespoon), 35 grams (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder.

      Baking time should be the same as the recipe. Let me know how it goes 🙂

  28. Hi
    I dont have cake flour just regular flour. Should i add baking powder? If so, how much?

  29. Hi Elena, This is my first attempt at making a cake, ever. My cake tastes wonderful, but it did not rise very much (1 3/4″); It is very dense. I used a 8 x 4 pan, weighed all the ingredients, beat the batter for 15 minutes, (it appeared to me as you described), and baked it for 40 minutes without opening the oven door. My toothpick came out clean when I tested it. I plan to try it again next week. It was over 80 degrees Fahrenheit in my kitchen today. Also, my extra large eggs only weigh 60 grams each. Any idea what I may have done wrong? Thank you in advance for your wonderful recipe and your help.

    • Hi Pete! How many eggs did you use?

      • Ellena, I used four extra large eggs, but each one was only 60 grams. My eggs were at room temperature. Also, I used cake flour, as you recommended. Should I add part of another egg to bring the total to 280 grams for an 8 x 4 pan? I did clean the bowl and whisk with vinegar (and dried) to make sure there was no fat in there. Thank you for your quick response.

      • Maybe you deflated the eggs when you incorporated the flour.
        Please let me know if you try again.

  30. Elena, I’ll be more careful next time. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thank you very much. Pete

  31. can i covered it with fondant or not ??

  32. Hi. I have a rectangular baking tray 30cmx22cm and height is 4 cm
    Would it be possible to tell me the measures to fit this tray,
    I want to use it fit my daughter birthday
    Thanks a lot

    • Hi Dalia!
      For a 30×22 cm pan you will need:
      9 eggs, 270 grams sugar (2 1/3 cup sugar), 220 grams (2 cups) cake flour, 50 grams (1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon) cocoa powder. I think it’s better that you line your pan with parchment paper ( Trace the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper. Cut it out and line the bottom of the pan. Then line the sides of the pan with parchment paper so that it creates a collar that sits 1 to 2-inches above the pan. Make sure that you brush some melted butter to the bottom and sides of the pan so the parchment paper sticks.)
      Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  33. What is your recipe for syrup for this cake?

  34. Hi, I want to use this recipe to make a 4 layer cake, I have 2 26cm tins so I want to bake 2 cakes and cut each in half. Can I just split the 7 eggs mix between the tins or should I increase the amount?

    • Hi Sarah! For 2 26 cm tins you have to double the ingredients. You can also use 6 eggs, if you just want to cut the cake in half…but still double ingredients for 2 tins. Let me know how it goes 🙂

  35. Hi! Can i use 4 normal egg whites and 3 yolks instead of using 3 extra large eggs?

  36. 70 grams with the shell or without shell?

  37. Thank you for this delicious recipe! I made a cake with your recipe and it turned out very nice, fluffy and not to sweet (which I liked) ! The only thing I added was a teaspoon of baking powder to the mixture as I used white flour instead of cake flour which I suppose comes with a batter raising ingredient. I used the cake it in two layers and filled it and topped it with cane syrup and topped with a mix of crumbled toasted, cinnamon powder. peanuts, apple, chocolate powder, and some sweet flour made of graham crackers. It is just delicious!!!!!!

  38. What a great recipe! I really appreciated the details on the eyes. When I weighed my large eggs they were 60 g and I adjusted the quantities per your instructions. My first cake was a ‘tester’served with some home made vanilla bean ice cream and a strawberry compote. I intend to make a black forest cake with this recipe soon!
    Cheers!

  39. Hi Elena

    I made this today, it rose wonderfully and is so nice and even on top, only thing is it didn’t get the height like the cake in your picture, is that a 6″ or 8″ pan? I used an 8″ and it looked a bit flat in comparison, so ended up making another cake to get more height for a birthday cake. Planning to fill it with whipped dark choc ganache and cherry jam. 😀

    Thanks!
    Vanessa

  40. ciao Moya,

    Would it be possible to use this recipe for a 3 tier cake with pie pudding creme in the middle ?
    I also need to cover it with frosting (birthday cake) on the outside.

    Grazie mille !
    Daniele

  41. Hi, I am going to attempt to make my son’s birthday cake. It will be a 10 inch square Mickey mouse cake. Would this be a good recipe and how many do you think I would need to make for this cake? https://pinterest.com/pin/471822498437771662/?source_app=android

    • Hi Felicia! You will need : 8 eggs, 195 grams (1 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoon) flour, 45 grams (1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon) unsweetened cocoa powder, 240 grams sugar (1¼ cup minus 1 tablespoon ).
      Please let me know how it goes 🙂

      • Thank you for your reply. His birthday party is the 21st. I will let you know how it goes. Do you think I could do 2 layers and put chocolate ganache in the middle and it still be ok. I also plan to use molded chocolate instead of fondant.

      • You can even make 3 layers. Just make sure that you prepare the cake the day before so it’s easier to cut it (wrap it in cling film and keep it in the fridge). I can’t wait to see the result 🙂

  42. Hi Elena,

    I’m looking for a good sponge cake recipe to make a buche de noel with. Which measurements do you recommend if I will be baking this on a 53 by 38 cm baking sheet. Thank you!

    • Hi Kim! You will need: 6 eggs, 120 grams (1 cup) flour, 180 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
      Bake at 220 degrees C (428 degrees F) for 6-7 minutes. Here you can find the step by step (it’s in Italian but just look at the pictures)
      I hope this helps 🙂

  43. I am excited to make this cake for my grandson’s 3rd birthday! Will definitely let you know how it turns out. I am using a 9” round pan. Can you please give me the measurements for sugar, flour and cocoa powder in non-metrics system (cups, tbsp, tsp)? Thank you!

  44. I’ve been looking for a moist sponge cake recipe. Will this cake come out moist? If not do you have one?

  45. Would it be possible to use this recipe for a Swiss roll? if so what would the baking time be, at what temperature and how much batter?

    Thanks!

  46. The cake was good but the cooking time ’40 minutes’ is far too much and my cake burnt.I had to cut all around the cake

  47. Hi!
    Does the cooking time change when using a 6 inch pan?

  48. This looks amazing for my daughter’s birthday. What would you do for high altitude adjustments? We live at 5,000 feet.

  49. I am also using this for the sponge in a blackforest cake. The texture is just heavenly. It is exactly what i was looking for. Also, many “authentic ” blackforest recipes call for shortening in the sponge. That seemed far from authentic considering the cake dates back at least 150 years. Your recipe is perfect. This is my go to chocolate sponge from now on.

  50. Amazing! I’ll give it a try 🙂

  51. hey i was just wondering if these conversions for the 9 inch pan are correct:

    1 cup of sugar
    1 cup cake flour
    1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
    can you let me know if these don’t seem right
    thank you

  52. what if the eggs are room temperature do i still have to put them in warm water

  53. Hi! I forgot to thank you for this amazing recipe, I did a wedding cake with two kinds of ganache. The first tier (30 cm sponge) with liquor ganache and the second one (24 cm) with mint chocolate ganache. It was delicious! thank you so much 🙂

  54. Hi, this cake looks amazing ! I am going to try making it but do you think it freezes well ? 

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