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 33 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

163 comments on “Chocolate Italian Sponge Cake”

  1. 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

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

  3. 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 🙂

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

  5. Im planning on making this for a family gathering, and was wondering if this cake recipe is dry at all. Or would you think it’s necessary to use a simple syrup?

  6. Hello Elena .. i would like to try this recipe but i have 2 quick questions. How well does the cake rise ? I am asking because i have one recipe which calls for 9 eggs ,57g butter 150g sugar and 125 g flour and 25g cocoa powdwer but it does not rise at all . I have read that the cake is in the dry side so my other question is do u think adding a little butter will make the cake a bit moist ? Or that would ruin the whole recipe ?

    • Hi Yemuraki! This cake rises quite well if you follow the instructions and beat the eggs+sugar long enough.
      I wouldn’t add butter… it will become a completely different recipe!
      Please let me know how it goes 🙂

  7. I tried this recipe a few days ago. I used 6 eggs for a 9 inch measurement because i felt my eggs were small. They were 50g each. I also added vanilla extract just to tone down the smell of the egg. The cake came out great … it braised very well and it has a great texture. Nice and fluffy . This is going to be my go to chocolate spinge. I will also try the lemon version which i saw in this website as well .

  8. i made this recipe and the pplain sponge and they turned out awsome.i made two cakes.so one vanilla and one chocolate.one of the chocolate cake didnt rise because i overbeat the flour i think….but then i made fluffy ones!!!!and elena is awsome.she responded me many times till i get the recipe right.she is awsome.and the sponges were awsome with some simple syrup.everyone loved the cake.!!!!thanks

  9. Hello Elena. Will this sponge cake fall apart if I try and split the baked cake into 3 layers?? I was thinking of making a chocolate cannoli cake with it.

    • Hi Joann! It’s better if you prepare it the day before. Let it cool, wrap it in clingfilm and store it in the fridge. This way it will be much easier to cut it into layers

  10. Hi..Elena…can I use this recipe for sheet cake?

  11. Hi Elena 
    My cake turned out to be simply awesome..thanks for the lovely recipe.

  12. Hi Elena,, my family is intolerance gluten.. can I do the cake with cornflour?.. once I tried with rice flour but with other recipe and it came out dry. I wanna make cake for my daughter birthday soon and i want other kids to enjoy the cake gluten free which is like a normal cake. Thank you Elena…

    • Hi Sukma! I tried this cake with gluten-free flour and it came out perfect. Please keep in mind that this cake is not moist. You should brush each layer with a simple syrup or juice and then fill it.

  13. Hi Elena, I’d like to use this recipe for a Swiss roll cake and was wondering if you knew how to make it in a 13”x20” or a 14.5”x10.5” roll pan?

  14. I’d like to use this recipe as the base for my Black Forest cake, do you think it will work? Thx for the advice.

  15. Hello, when you say beating the eggs, you mean without separating whites from yolks?
    Thanks

  16. Hi Elena. I used the recipe for 9 inch ( reduced sugar to 100g).t But it only managed to fill half of a 7inchx 2 inch pan.
    & the cake didn’t seem to have such thickness like yours.
    The texture is slightly chewy. Not spongy enough.
    May I know what is the possible mistake?
    Could it be the reduced sugar?
    Or I over folded it ? ( it took me almost 30minutes to fold in all the flour, little by little)
    Looking forward to your advice. Thank you.

    • Hi Nik! If you reduce the sugar from 150 to 100, you will not have the same result. 🙂

      • Thanks Elina. I tried to reduce sugar as My family doesn’t take too sweet stuff. I will give it a try again!
        Btw, is there any folding technique I should look into? As the flour seems hard to blend in to the egg mixture. I notice the mixture’s airy texture is gone during my folding (30+ minutes in total). Appreciate your advice. Thanks!

      • It shouldn’t take 30 minutes to fold in the flour. Sift a couple of tablespoons of flour on the batter, and fold it in using this technique
        I hope this helps 🙂

  17. Hi Elina!
    Thank you for the amazing recipe!, i made the recipe for a birthday cake, but i end up having a cake with 5cm height, is that right? and is it enough for a birthday cake with fondant layer or should i bake more?
    Thank You! 

    my pan size id 10inch

  18. For chocolate pan di spagna could you tell me amount of ingredients i would need for 12″pan and baking time please. Could i also add more cocoa power to make it more chocolatey, if so how much would be a good amount? Many thanks

    • You will need 9 eggs, 220 grams cake flour (2 cups), 50 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) sugar.
      If you use all-purpose flour, 220 grams = 1 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon

      Baking time should be 5/10 minutes more (it depends on your oven). After 40 minutes you can check with a skewer if it’s ready or needs more time.

      You can use more cocoa powder if you wish. Just replace some flour with the cocoa powder. For example: if you add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, remove 1 tablespoon of flour.

      Happy Baking! 🙂

  19. Hi there. Thanks for the recipe. Was wondering if I could split it into 2 pans to bake them into 2 layers? If so, how long would you recommend the bake time to be?

  20. I was so excited to make this as a rookie baker but feel like it was an epic fail. I’m determined to try it again. The measurements adjust for a different size pan but my pan size fell in the middle of the adjustments. I have a 9.5 inch pan but the ratio changes are for 9 or 10 inch pan. I went up to the ratio for a 10 inch. Not sure why but my eggs never got stiff after whipping for 25 minutes & the cake didn’t get fluffy. It dried out on the bottom.  Any suggestions.

  21. Also forgot to mention, I didn’t have cake flour so I looked up a substitute for all purpose flour & replaced 2-3 tablespoons of flour for baking powder.  I was wondering if this could cause an issue.

    • Hi Jenn!
      – As your pan is 9.5-inch I suggest you use the recipe for a 9-inch pan
      – the egg mixture is not supposed to get stiff but fluffy and pale yellow
      – If you don’t have cake flour, you can make it at home using all-purpose flour + corn starch, not baking powder.

  22. Lol! Hi Elena – I meant to say cornstarch. Thanks for the reply! Today is tge dsy I try again. Will let you know how it comes out!
    Jenn

  23. Can I double the quantity and use a 9×13 pan to bake it?

    • For a 9×13 pan, you can use 9 eggs, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) granulated sugar, 220 grams (1 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) flour, 50 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder.

  24. Elena
    I was going to use 11×15″ pan for black forest cake. What ratios should I use?

    • Hi Cate!

      You can use: 13 eggs, 390 grams (2 cups minus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar, 320 grams (3 cups minus 1 tablespoon) cake flour, 70 grams (2/3 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon) unsweetened cocoa powder.
      Baking time will be longer, please check the cake after 45/50 minutes.
      Happy baking! 🙂

  25. sorry to ask – but can I confirm – when you say cake flour – do you mean what we (UK) call self-raising flour so it has the raising agent in it?

  26. Hi, I baked the cake, it came out so good yummy my kid’s love it, thanks for the recipe

  27. Perfect excellent  cake recipe thank you

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