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 84 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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450 comments on “Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna)”

  1. Hello, can I separate egg whites and egg yolks and beat the egg whites until soft peaks form by adding vinegar to it ???

  2. Thank you for the recipe. Could you please tell me the measurements for a half sheet cake? Also, can I substitute 00 flour for the cake flour?

    Thanks!

    • For a half sheet pan, I would use 14 eggs, 420 grams (3 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon) 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.

      Yes, you can use 00 flour 🙂

  3. Does cake come out good without Baking powder and Butter / Oil? 

  4. Not like that In general cake recipes calls for baking powder and Butter /Oil. However in your recipe you didn’t not ask for Baking powder and Butter /Oil. So I got doubt…

  5. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and well explained recipe!!

  6. Really delicious fluffy cake it’s my favorite recipe now

    • LOVE hearing that, Hiba! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

    • Made one today… still inside the oven for cooling down. I am so glad to see the outcome. You have explained the recipe and measurements of its ingredients so very well especially the ratio of ingredients according to the pan size. It was really helpful. Thanks for this awesome recipe. And yeah, I could bake an awesome sponge. Thinking of layering it with strawberry cream filling.. my daughter’s most favourite… but have to wait until the cake cools down completely.. .. impatient mumma.. impatient kiddo!

  7. Hi Elena!
    It was the first cake i ever made and I loved it!
    I have a question.
    I made this cake in order to see how it goes so next week I can make the same as a birthday cake for my daughter.
    The plan is cut it in layers and put some frosting between them.
    The pan that i used to make the cake is a 26cm diamter x 7cm height.
    I used the ingredients for 26cm pan that you wrote and from what came out it seems that i can cut, two thick layers or 3 very thin layers.
    Can I increase the amount of the ingredients for the same pan so the cake gets a bit thicker or should i bake two of them?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Dimi! You can increase the ingredients, and use 7 eggs instead of 6. In this case, I would add parchment paper to make the pan deeper. 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 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.

  8. Hi Elena! Thank you for sharing the recipe in such a beautifully detailed way. Will a rubber spatula work if i don’t have a wooden spoon?

  9. Could I make the sponge coloured?

  10. Followed recipe for 9” making a collar on 2 “ pan.  Used 6 large eggs instead of 5 extra large.  When I was folding the batter into the pan, I saw several pockets of flower that were not blended in.  Blended as I came upon these while still trying to only fold. Other mistake I think I made was for the first minute after cooking the oven door was wide open until I read the part about using wooden spoon as opener.  Cake did not rise like seen in picture.  It got to about 3” high but settled to a bit over 2” and it’s a bit dry.  Still tastes great w milk or coffee, just like my mother in law’s used to. I don’t think she used a recipe.  Will try again.  Thank you

    • I think you deflated the egg mixture when you added the flour. Add a couple of tablespoons of sifted flour, fold, and add again.

      I hope this helps! 🙂

  11. Can this be split into three layers and used to make an Italian rum cake?

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