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 35 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 (60 g) — 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

183 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 :)

      • 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 stars

  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.5 stars

  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

    Joyce5 stars

  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. Thanks5 stars

    • 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!5 stars

  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 haha5 stars

  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!!5 stars

  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!5 stars

  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?5 stars

  25. Thank you for recipe. Easy to make. Perfect texture and flavour. Also great idea for info in diffrent sizes of cake5 stars

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