Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna)

Pan di Spagna (Italian Sponge Cake) is a simple, airy sponge cake flavored with vanilla or lemon zest. It’s made with only 3 ingredients: eggs, sugar, and flour…no baking powder, no butter, no oil, and no dairy!

Italian sponge cake on a white plate. A bowl with flour and egg shells in the background

This traditional cake is used in desserts like cassata, zuccotto, zuppa inglese and tiramisù. It can be soaked with your favorite mixture and layered with cream fillings, covered with fondant, or just eaten on its own, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

The secrets to baking a perfect Pan di Spagna:

  1. Use extra large eggs (each egg should weigh approximately 70 grams/2.46 ounces). Eggs have to be at room temperature, not cold from the fridge. If they are too cold, soak them for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water.
  2. It’s better to use a low-protein flour, such as cake flour. If it’s not available in the store, you can make it at home (check out this tutorial by Joy the Baker), or use all-purpose flour.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar for no less than 15/20 minutes. It is during this stage that air is incorporated. The eggs should turn a pale yellow.
  4. Sift the flour on top of the egg mixture, a little at a time, and fold it gently with a wooden spoon. If you pour in too much flour, it will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
  5. While the cake is baking, don’t open the oven for at least 30 minutes as this may cause the cake to deflate.
  6. When it’s ready, turn off the oven but leave the cake inside (keep the door slightly open using a wooden spoon) for 5- 10 minutes.
  7. You should cut the Italian sponge cake with a serrated knife 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. You can make it up to  3 days ahead!
Italian sponge cake on a white plate. A bowl with egg shells in the background

Baking Pan:

For the sponge cake in the picture, I used a Wilton round pan 15 cm wide and 8 cm high  (6 x 3 inch). If your baking pan is not very deep, use 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 the parchment paper 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.

Your baking pan is a different size? Use the following ratios:

  • 12 cm (4 inches) pan: 2 eggs, 60 grams cake flour, 60 grams sugar → ½ cup + ½ tablespoon cake flour, 1/3 cup minus ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 15 cm  (6 inches) pan: 3 eggs, 90 grams cake flour, 90 grams sugar → ¾ cup + ¾ tablespoon cake flour, 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 18/20 cm  (7/8 inches) pan: 4 eggs, 120 grams cake flour, 120 grams sugar → 1 cup+1 tablespoon cake flour, ½ cup + 1 ½ tablespoon sugar
  •  23 cm ( 9 inches) pan: 5 eggs, 150 grams cake flour, 150 grams sugar → 1 1/3 cup cake flour, 3/4 cup sugar
  • 26 cm (10 inches) pan: 6 eggs, 180 grams cake flour, 180 grams sugar → 1 ½ cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour, ¾ cup + 2¼ tablespoons sugar
  • 27 cm (10 ½ inches) pan: 7 eggs, 210 grams cake flour, 210 grams sugar → 2 cups minus 2½ tablespoons cake flour, 1 cup plus ¾ tablespoon sugar
  • 28 cm (11 inches) pan: 8 eggs, 240 grams cake flour, 240 grams sugar → 2 cups plus 2½ tablespoons cake flour, 1¼ cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 30 cm  (12 inches) pan: 9 eggs, 270 grams cake flour, 270 grams sugar → 2 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon cake flour, 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 32 cm (12 ½ inches) pan: 10 eggs, 300 grams cake flour, 300 grams sugar → 2 ¾ cups minus 1½ tablespoon cake flour, 1 ½ cup sugar

Do you have a rectangular or square pan? Send me an email or post a comment with the size of your pan, I can calculate it for you.

STORAGE:

Store the cake in the refrigerator for a couple of days, until ready to use. It can also be tightly wrapped in cling film and stored in the freezer for several months. Bring it back to room temperature or unthaw overnight in the refrigerator, when needed.

You might also like to try the chocolate version Chocolate Italian Sponge Cake 

Italian sponge cake on a white plate. A bowl with flour and egg shells in the background
Print
5 from 109 votes
Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna)
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hr
 
Author: As Easy As Apple Pie
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings:8

Learn how to make a traditional Italian sponge cake from scratch with only 3 ingredients: eggs, flour, and sugar!


Ingredients
For an 18-20 cm (7-8 inches) pan:
  • ½ cup + 1½ tablespoon (120 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or vanilla extract optional
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (120 grams) cake flour, sifted *you can use all-purpose flour: 120 grams=1 cup
Instructions
  1. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator ahead of time as the eggs need to be at room temperature 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 (or spray with baking spray) a 20 cm (8 inches) pan. 

  4. Put the eggs, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the bowl of your stand mixer.

  5. Beat the eggs until very fluffy and pale yellow (about 15/20 minutes on medium/high speed). To test that it has been beaten enough, let a small amount of batter fall into the bowl. If it remains "sitting" on top, it means that it's ready.

  6. italian-sponge-cake-pan-di-spagna
  7. Sift the flour on top of the egg mixture, a little at a time, and fold it gently with a wooden spoon.
  8. italian-sponge-cake-pan-di-spagna
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Don't smooth the top or bang the pan on the counter, leave it as it is!
  10. italian-sponge-cake-pan-di-spagna
  11. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Remember: do not open the oven for the first 30 minutes!)

  12. Turn off the oven but leave the cake inside (keep the door slightly open using a wooden spoon) for 5/10 minutes so it can cool down slowly.

  13. Remove the sponge cake from the oven, let it cool for 10 more minutes, then loosen around the edges with a knife, and flip it on a wire rack upside down (without the pan) to cool completely.

  14. Enjoy it!
Notes

© as easy as Apple Pie owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given.

Nutrition Information
Amount per serving (60 g) — Calories: 137, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 98mg, Sodium: 33mg, Carbohydrates: 24g, Sugar: 12g, Protein: 4g

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572 comments on “Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna)”

  1. Hi Elena ! Thank you for that recipe !! Can you tell me, if you use a 9 inch pan, would the baking time be different ? Thank you !!

  2. I made this tonight for my family. It over baked slightly at 35 mins., so it was a little dry. However, it was very spongey, and the right amount of sweet, to pair with the macerated strawberries (honey & balsamic), and coconut milk whipped cream. Thank you! I’m going to add this one to my wheelhouse.

  3. We loved this cake. Used it to make Maltese trifle.
    Great recipe, thank you! Mine was done after 30 minutes.

  4. I have followed this recipe 2x and my cake turned out amazing. This is the only recipe I will be using from now on. 
    Thank you for sharing it with us. 

  5. Hi Elena, 
    This recipe looks delicious! I was wondering what measurements and baking time I should use for my 8 in x 8 in square baking dish? Thank you so much! 

    -Victoria

  6. Hi Elena, I can’t wait to bake this! I am planning on making an Italian rum cake. I’m using the 18/20 cm pan. But I only have large eggs. Should I add an extra egg? Thank you!

  7. Hi Elena, this recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to make it! I was hoping you could advise me on measurements and cooking time for a rectangle cake pan
    measuring: 33.5cm x 23.5cm x 6cm

    Please and thank you! 

    • Hi McKenzie! Happy to help 🙂

      You will need: 10 eggs, 300 grams (2 ¾ cups minus 1½ tablespoon) cake flour, 300 grams (1 ½ cup) sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or grated lemon zest. Baking time will be longer, please check it after 50 minutes.

  8. Didn’t work at all. Any recipe that calls for stiff beaten eggs will always need the following.

    1) Egg white, cause egg yolks prevent it from aerating.
    2) Cold egg whites, cause warm egg whites don’t hold peak well.
    3) Powdered sugar for best results although granulated sugar can be used.

    With egg yolks, room temp eggs and granulated sugar it’s guaranteed not to form.

    Followed this recipe to the T and wasted good quality ingredients. Not even edible.

    • Peter, I think you are reviewing the wrong recipe. There is not written anywhere to beat the eggs until stiff.

      “Beat the eggs until very fluffy and pale yellow”…I don’t think you can achieve that with only egg whites 🙂

    • I had absolutely no problem with using whole eggs, or warm eggs (I left them out overnight and began baking immediately after breakfast), or granulated sugar. No idea where you’ve gone wrong, but everything turned out perfectly here, today, for the fifth or sixth time.

  9. Excellent post! The baking pan chart is so useful. Not to mention all your other tips! Thanks.

  10. I love the detailed instructions very easy to follow. My cake came out good, I just wish it would have been a little moist. Any tip to make it a bit moist? I might have to adjust the cooking time too. Overall it was great. Thank you so much

  11. Worked like a charm, so airy and fluffy!! thank you so much!

  12. ifirst time trying this recipe and it was fantastic. will keep this as a favorite and thank you for the easy to follow steps.

  13. This recipe it’s a life changer!
    So easy and tasty… Love it! Thank you for sharing 

  14. This is a very different method than I was taught, and it is a life changer.  The cake came out perfect.  I did still put a little pan of water in the bottom of the oven while it was heating up and the cake was slightly moist and perfect.  Should you grease and flour the pan if it is high enough?  Thank you so much for this recipe and chart.  Cake perfect every time.  

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