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.


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
5 from 123 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

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

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
  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!

© 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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622 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! 


  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.

    • You can definitely whip whole eggs. It’s not meant to be the same as whipping egg whites alone, nor should it make stiff peaks. This recipe turned out excellent!

  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.  

  15. I used this recipe to make a Hong Kong style fruit cake for my father in law’s birthday and it turned out great! I used two 6″x1.5″ pans, and overbaked it a little at 35 minutes, but I should have known to adjust the time down a bit more. Once they were dressed up with the fruit and cream, no one seemed to mind 😉 “good, not too sweet!” was the praise dad gave it, and mama asked me for the recipe! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  16. I’ve made this cake 3 times now and it is an absolute winner. The chart for different size pans is great. My only complaint is my ancient Kenwood chef is so noisy I’ve now learnt to leave the house for 20 mins while the sugar and eggs are whipping.

  17. Is there any possibility of making this cake as a Gluten-free cake? It’s a lot to ask, but with such a simple ingredient list I wonder if it would be possible? 

    Cheers, Susan

  18. I am new to baking, but have started out trying out some recipes in the past few months. I was conducting an experiment with two sponge cake recipes, one after the other, and this one was the clear winner. I followed the proportions for the 9 inch pan and substituted 20 grams of all purpose flour for starch, for a more cake flour texture. My oven does seem to run a little hotter than some, so the cake was done at 30 mins. The cake did not deflate at all during cooling and has a wonderfully airy texture. I’ve combined it with a raspberry reduction and mango/guava mousse. It’s absolutely delicious and one of my most successful baking projects so far. 

  19. Hi, from Philippines here. I tried this recipe and I successfully made it. It’s really good, everyone loves it and it’s easy to make. Thank you! T’was my first time making an Italian recipe

  20. I have used this recipe several times and its my go to for birthdays or just a nice cake that i can decorate for Sunday tea. Absolutely flop proof

  21. Great recipe, I made it in a 9 inch springform pan lined with parchment paper. Mine was done right at 27 minutes, I guess my over runs hot. Going to use this to make an Italian rum cake!

  22. This cake was sooper fluffy and delish! It was so easy to make too!!! Thank you for the recipeʕ•ٹ•ʔ I baked for 35 minutes and had no problems with the cake being dry so I have no idea what the negative comments are about. Pretty much fool proof as long as you whip the eggs long enough and they are at room temperature.(•ө•)♡

  23. Hi Elena, can I use non stick pan to bake this sponge cake?


  24. Great recipe and so easy to follow and adapt. I have a question: I am making a Yule Log. The pan is 14.5 x 9.75. How long do I cook this for? It keeps coming out almost perfect but a little dry. Thank you! Love it!

  25. The recipe calls for lemon zest or vanilla that is “optional”. I take that to understand it can be eliminated completely? Could orange flavoring be used, or any other flavoring for that matter?

    • You can eliminate it completely or use any other flavor. I wouldn’t eliminate the flavoring completely otherwise the cake might taste too “eggy”.

    • I made it today. ABSOLUTELY DELISIOUS I used lemon extract. It reminded me of the lady fingers I used to eat as a child. I had to quickly cut it up and freeze it, or I would have eaten the whole thing. As it was, I ate 3 pieces! YUM Thanks

  26. Hi! What about in a 24cm x 11cm (inside measurements) loaf tin?

  27. Hi I’m Lynn Satoshi here, I done the cake this morning is turned out nicely, thank you and appreciate for your recipe with individual size cake pan my one is 6″× 3 inches. Baked time for me 30 minutes.

  28. Perfect sponge cake! It turned out very well. I followed the “6 egg” batch size and spread this out on a half sheet pan. Made layers for a Christmas Tiramisu. For everyone mentioning it’s a bit dry- it’s supposed to be so you can soak it with yummy flavored syrups. If you want moist cake layers go for yellow/butter cakes. Anyways- thank you for your recipe!!

  29. What an amazing cake, I made it today for my dad’s birthday and he loved it. Cut it in 3 layers and filled with sweetened cream and diced peaches. Was amazing. Definitely a recipe to hold into. Thank you so much and so easy.

  30. Amazing cake! First time baking a sponge cake. I followed the recipe exactly and the cake turned out perfect. Serving with fresh berries and cream 🙂

  31. This recipe sounds perfect for what I need-so many positive comments! I’ll come back to post my successful story- I am very hopeful! ♥️

  32. I doubled the recipe and it came out perfectly.

  33. Hi Elena,
    Thank you for the great recipe but more so for the amazing tips! I was using small eggs and bitting them for about 7 minutes for an average result, with your tips the cake was a real sponge one, light and beautiful!
    I was planning to use it for my twins 1st birthday but i was wondering if it was possible though to reduce a bit the sugar. Something like 100g instead of 120g. I think it might rise less but what do you think?

    • Hi Helene! I am so glad you found the tips useful.
      I think you will still get a good result with 110/100 grams of sugar, but I wouldn’t do it for an important occasion especially if you have guests.
      May I ask why you want to reduce it? Is it too sweet for you? Feel free to send me an email and maybe we can come up with a solution 🙂

      • I just wanted to reduce the sugar for the kids, the taste is perfect but I want to limit the sugar imput in their diet.
        So I just wanted to let you know that I tried it with 100g of sugar for the twins’ cakes, it was great! Didn’t rise as much as the other one I did with the original recipe for the grown ups but it was very tasty and both of the kids enjoy their strawberry filled smatch cakes!
        Thanks again!
        I will definitely do it again next year 🙂

      • Thank you for letting me know the result, Helene! Glad the kids enjoyed the cake! 🙂

    • I just baked using this recipe and it came out great! I used 110g sugar and it was just right for me.
      Only a hint of sweetness.

      I generally bake with 20%-25% less sugar, especially in American cake recipes, cos I find them all too sweet. ( if you need a guide to my sweetness palate)

  34. Question: I went to buy cake flour and wasn’t sure whether to use plain cake flour or self-raising cake flour. Please advise. Thank you!

  35. 5.25 X 9 X 2,75 (inches) 1.5 quart

    135 X 230 X 70 (millimeters) 1.5 liter

    Could you please give me the conversion recipe for the above pan.

    Thank You…

    Note: I didn’t rate the recipe, because I have yet to try it.

  36. Made this cake because I offered to bake for a school function and a friend with a farm gave me WAY TOO MANY eggs as they were leaving on vacation. Made 3 cakes, each using a different sized silicon spring form pan. Each was flavored differently and added various fruit and whipped cream or chocolate sauce depending. The compliments are still pouring in from the group! Everyone was amazed at the texture and flavor. This recipe is foolproof as long as you use room temp eggs and beat long enough. We live at 9000 feet so took about 30 minutes of beating per batch and baked for about 40 minutes. FABULOUS recipe, thank you

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