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 72 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 (60g) — Calories: 137, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 98mg, Sodium: 33mg, Carbohydrates: 24g, Sugar: 12g, Protein: 4g

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Learn how to make a traditional Italian sponge cake (pan di Spagna) from scratch with only 3 ingredients: eggs, flour, and sugar! #italianfood #italian #spongecake #dessert #vanillacake #fromscratch #baking #cake #homemade #easyrecipes

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

  1. Hi Elena, 
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. The cakes bake perfectly even and are so fluffy. But some how it became two loaves (extra a small loaf) 
    The are so good, my son loves it. 
    OX Julia 

  2. Hi Elena,

    I have 2 rectangular pans

    1) 29cm x 11cm x 6cm (height)

    2) 22cm x 13cm x 7cm (height)

    Appreciate if you could do the calculations for me.

    Warmest regards,
    Sheue Lih

    • Hi Sheue.

      1) 29cm x 11cm = 20 cm round pan

      2) 22cm x 13cm = 19 cm round pan

      You will need: 4 eggs, 120 grams (1 cup+1 tablespoon cake flour) cake flour, 120 grams (½ cup + 1 ½ tablespoon) sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or lemon zest.

      Same ingredients for both pans. Let me know how it goes:)

  3. Nice recipe .
    If I have 24 cm square pan, how much ingredients should I use??
    Thanks for your help☺

    • Hi Fati! You will need 7 eggs, 210 grams (2 cups minus 2½ tablespoons) cake flour, 210 grams (2 cups plus ¾ tablespoon) sugar, a pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Baking time will be longer, I guess 10 minutes more… after 40 minutes you can check with a skewer if it’s ready or needs more time. 🙂

  4. Did you or do you use cake strips for this? 

  5. It says in your recipe to use extra large eggs and each egg should weigh about 70 grams. Did you weigh the eggs with the shell? I only have large eggs. If I want to use the same weight for the 4 eggs, do I weigh my eggs to 280 grams in the shell?

  6. Hey Elena, this is a wonderful recipe. If I wanted to add the juice of an orange (not the zest since getting organic orange is difficult where i stay) and vanilla flavoring or extract, how much can i use? (I want to give the cake a orange and vanilla flavor). Sorry if this is a silly question.

    • Hi Reene! Unfortunately, you can’t add orange juice or the batter will be too liquid.

      You can use vanilla extract (1 teaspoon) and soak the cake with orange juice 🙂

  7. Hello Elina. The URL page you provided for making cake flour uses twice the amount of corn flour than you use in your recipe. So haven’t had a bash at making it yet, looks delicious though.

    All the best…..John.

    • Hi John! If you want to make the recipe with 4 eggs (the one written in the recipe card), take 1 cup of flour, remove 2 tablespoons, and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift the flour and cornstarch together 5 times. Please let me know if you try it! 🙂

  8. I was looking for a recipe for my first sponge. This sounded good and went fantastically well. Great directions made this a very simple, fun and successful cake to make. I’m chilling it tonight and will soak it with a glaze made from home made limoncello for dessert. Grazie Mille!

  9. Hi Elena,
    I’m very excited to try this recipe. I’m going to be using a 13×9 inch rectangular pan. What would the proportions/directions be for that? Do you think all the batter will fit in one pan as well?
    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Jay!

      You will need: 9 eggs, 270 grams (2 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon) cake flour, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) sugar, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated lemon zest. Baking time will be longer, I think 5/10 minutes more. Please check it after 40 minutes with a skewer if it’s ready or needs more time.
      Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  10. I am using a 9″ x 3.5″ round tin. Do I use the exact ingredients and baking time as listed in your recipe? Cant wait to try this recipe. Also does the cake need to be filled or soaked or can it be served as is?

    • Hi Brenda! For a 9″ pan you use 5 eggs, 150 grams (1 1/3 cup) cake flour, 150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or lemon zest, a pinch of salt. Baking time should be the same.
      You can leave the cake plain, just keep in mind that it’s not very moist.

  11. Hi Elena,
    i love the sponge recipe.
    can you recommend a good filler perhaps jam and cream and will this help with the dryness of the cake?
    I was wondering is this sponge good to cover with fondant?
    I was thinking to make a rectangle one and cut in half then put on top of each other would that be ok?
    I was looking to make a 50th birthday cake.
    Kind Regards

  12. Hi Elena,

    This cake looks like the perfect sponge I have been looking for to make the cake I have in mind. And thank you for the conversion – it is of great help!
    I do have a couple questions though (I tried to read through almost all the comments to make sure I was not repeating one that was asked already)
    1) For a 6 inch pan, how long would you recommend baking for? 40 mins as well or I would assume less?
    2) I intend to fill mine with plain whipped cream but will moisten it with a simple syrup first. How much syrup would you recommend for a 6 inch cake? I do not want to overdo it and have syrup dripping from the cake.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Harsha!
      For the 6-inch pan, I guess you can bake it for 30/ 35 minutes. Test it with a toothpick inserted into the center after 30 minutes.
      You don’t need much simple syrup. Brush it over the cake with a pastry brush. You only need to brush each area of the cake once.
      Please let me know how it goes 🙂

  13. Hi Elena, I was wondering if I used typically sized white eggs how drastically it would effect the results, I need to make this cake today and only have the medium sized ones on hand:/
    Thank you!!

  14. Dear Elena, I am yet to try your recipe and I surely will.
    But I am writing this msg to tell you that I truly appreciate how you respond to each person’s mail, address them by their name and with so warmth. I know it is a basic communication skill but not a lot of people bother to do so. I am glad you are not one of them.
    Will keep you posted on how my cake turn out…
    Warm regards, Shanti

  15. Hi Elena, i’m looking to use a rectangular dish with dimensions 22.4 x 18 x 4.5 cm. Please could you help with the proportions. Im just so delighted to bake this cake for my Mom’s birthday today.. Thank you..

    • Hi Jiju! You can use 5 eggs, 150 grams (1 1/3 cup) cake flour, 150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

      Baking time should be 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

      Please let me know how it goes 🙂

  16. If I use a 8 inch or 10 inch spring form pan do I use the same ingredients?
    Sheila

    • Hi Sheila!
      For the 8-inch pan, you use the ingredients in the recipe card.
      For a 10-inch pan: 6 eggs, 180 grams (1 ½ cup + 2 tablespoons) cake flour, 180 grams ( ¾ cup + 2 ¼ tablespoons sugar) sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of salt. Baking time should remain the same.

  17. Cake looks fantastic. I am relatively new to cake making and am trying to make a 3 layer 9 inch cake with fondant. Do you recommend I mix the ingredients separately for each layer and will the cake be firm enough to hold the layers and fondant? Thanks!

    • If your baking pan is deep enough, you can get 3 layers from one cake (I used this pan, it’s 3-inches deep). Otherwise, bake 3 cakes and mix the ingredients separately.
      Yes, it’s firm enough to hold layers+fondant. 🙂

  18. Hi. I’m making mini tiramisu cakes for a wedding shower and thought this would be a great recipe. But I’m using a 14 in square pan. Can you do the calculations for me? Thank you

    • Hi Michelle! You can use: 14 eggs, 420 grams (3 1/2 cups) flour, 420 grams (2 cups + 1 1/2 tablespoon) sugar, 3 teaspoons vanilla extract. Baking time will be longer, please check it after 50/55 minutes.

  19. Hi Elena, am just amazed at this recipe of yours. Hopefully I will try it out today because I plan to bake a birthday cake for a 3 year old who is celebrating by weekend. Plz what measurements and pan should I use and what mode of Icing do you think would go well with it.

    Thanks as I await your response.

  20. Hi Elena,

    The cake sunk in the middle. Would yoube able to tell me what i may have done wrong? Thank you for the recipe..

    • Hi Geetha! Cakes usually sink when the batter is not completely cooked; everyone’s ovens are different so you need to find the optimum baking time for your oven. I hope this helps! 🙂

  21. Hi Elena,

    Can I bake it in a 9 inch pan and cut it with a knife?
    Or will it break apart if I try to do that.

    Also, I am thinking of adding the pastry cream between the layers. Do you think I can add a bit of blueberry jam as well with it. Will it go?

    • Hi Alekhya! Cut the 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.
      The blueberry jam+pastry cream sounds like a delicious combination 🙂
      Please let me know how it goes!

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