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 98 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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514 comments on “Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna)”

  1. Why don’t you try the recipe as it is written?

  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. What do you think? Surely I didn’t write the reviews myself! 😀

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. Could I make the sponge coloured?

  9. 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! 🙂

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

  11. I love making this sponge cake ! I want to make a chocolate version . How can I adapt this to add cocoa powder to the recipe?

  12. I would like to use this recipe for  a layered ricotta cake I make for Easter. The cake is made in a 5×9″ pan.  What proportions would I use.  Thanks.

  13. I want to use this recipe for an English trifle. What proportions of the ingredients do I use for a 13″ x 9″ pan. And the cooking time, etc?

    • You can use: 9 eggs, 270 grams (2 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon) cake flour, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) sugar, a pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or grated lemon zest. Bake for 45/50 minutes then check it with a toothpick.

      • I also have a 13×9″ pan, but it is only 2 inches high. Are you assuming a 3-inch height in all your conversions, i.e. should I be adding a parchment collar to my pan? Thanks so much, excited to try this!

      • I think it’s better to add a collar to the pan. Please let me know how it goes! 🙂

      • I used the parchment collar but it was not needed after all. The batter filled the pan about 2/3 of the way and the finished height was perfect. Unfortunately the cake came out super dry! After 40 minutes it was more than slightly browned so I turned the oven off at that point. (I actually gave it an additional 3 minutes because it was sizzling, that was probably a mistake.) My old oven runs inconsistently hot and can’t hold a precise temperature like 338 (it will creep up to 350) so I’ll err on the earlier side next time, maybe 30 min. Lesson learned I think!

  14. This looks delicious! We have a very good local bakery that makes a great orange chiffon cake. The reason I haven’t tried to make a chiffon cake is that it call for a very large number of eggs. For health reason I don’t want to use 7-8 eggs, and this looks and sounds like a great alternative. Thank you for the precise directions and measurement conversions for US bakers. 

  15. How many eggs would I need on a 12 and 3/4 by 9 inch pan? How much flour? How much sugar? I’m so sorry. Help!

    • You will need 9 eggs, 270 grams (2 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon) cake flour, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) sugar, a pinch of salt, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated lemon zest. Baking time will be slightly longer, please check it after 45 minutes.

  16. Hello…..I have a rectangular pan….13″x9″x2″…could you please help me with the ratios? Thank-you so much.

    Ida

    • Hi Ida! You will need 9 eggs, 270 grams (2 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon) cake flour, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) sugar, a pinch of salt, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated lemon zest. Baking time will be slightly longer, please check it after 45 minutes.

  17. Hi Elena~
    Looking for your expertise – could this recipe be used as written for cupcakes? What changes or things would you watch for?
    For a graduation party I’m thinking cupcakes may work better to serve the number needed.
    Thank you for your input!

    • Hi Jackie! Maryo just made cupcakes with this recipe (4 eggs recipe for 24 cupcakes).
      I would change the baking time to 20 minutes at 180 degrees C (356 degrees F).

  18. I made these as cupcakes – use the 18/20cm recipe (4 eggs) for 24 cupcakes. I use a Mexican vanilla in the batter. It was a nice alternative to my usual vanilla cupcake recipe that calls for a lot more sugar! I decorated with a lovely cream cheese and yogurt icing and berries for a fresh healthier option. Thanks for the ideas!

  19. Thank you so much for this recipe! After failing with multiple other recipes, this one was fool proof and came out PERFECT! I used it to make my first two tiered cake filled with fresh fruit between layers. I also brushed each cake with lychee syrup and decorated it with fresh whipped cream to make a perfect, not overly sweet birthday cake. Thanks so much for the recipe 🙂

  20. This is my first scratch sponge cake.  I love this recipe and will make it again.  Maybe try it as cupcakes.

  21. Hi Elena,
    This cake is fabulous! It reminds me of something that my Sicilian grandmother made! Would it be possible to make it with almond flour or another gluten-free flour? Have you tried?
    Best,
    Stephannie

  22. Hi Elena
    I made the cake today. It had the sponge consistency but it was very dry. I followed the recipe step by step without altering anything. Do you know why this may have happened to my cake? I am thinking to give it another try later on this week. 

    • Hi Laura! The cake is not supposed to be moist. You have to soak it and fill it!

      • Aha! That makes sense. Actually, I recall my husband saying that it would make for a nice soak and fill cake. Strawberry season is around the corner, I’ll be making this cake,again. It’s a wonderful recipe. 

  23. Hi Elena, very well explained. Thanks a lot. I did it now and waiting to cool. It looks lovely.

  24. Hello, I have an 8 inch long square pan with a depth of 3 inches. How much of each ingredient should I use? This recipe sounds delightful and I’m excited to try it out

    • Hi Emily! You can use 9 eggs, 270 grams (2 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon) cake flour, 270 grams (1 1/3 cup) sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or grated lemon zest

  25. Do you have high altitude adjustments?  We live at 6300’ above sea level. 

  26. A wonderful recipe! I tried it with my square pan and sliced it in half to make a double layer cake. In the middle I added a thin layer of Nutella and it was delicious. My sister loves the cake so much she ate a half of it in one day (goodness •o•). Bravo!

  27. Ciao Elena!
    Wanted to share that I used a sheet pan measuring 9.5″ Width  x 13.5″ Length x 1″ Height and used the 4 eggs recipe.  

    Batter was just nice!

    Since it is relatively flat, I baked it for the obligatory 20 mins without opening the oven 🙂 
    It was done so I turned off the oven and left the cake in the oven for 10 mins with the oven door open with a wooden spoon. 

    The sponge turned out beautiful and even.  Wish I could send you a photo!

    And now perfect for my dessert building.  

    Thank you!

    PS:  2 weeks ago, I made the chocolate sponge for an ice cream cake using a round pan. 

  28. Thank you so much for the conversions and this great recipe. I made it last night and couldn’t wait to taste it… so I cut it in half for a strawberry shortcake tomorrow, and wouldn’t you know it? I cut it a little off and had to even it out 😉 It is great. And so easy! Next time I will make it in a sheet pan for a rolled up type of cake. This is a keeper, for sure! Ciao!

  29. Dear dear Elena!! I am in awe at the love and care you have for all of us out here attempting this marvelous cake!! I have copy/paste/printed all the relevant answers and will be making this August 30, 2019 for a double 1st birthday for my two latest grand-babies—a 1/2 sheet (12x18x30) for the grown ups and 2 mini ‘smash’ cakes for the wee ones (born 20 minutes apart… I kid you not…). I’ll probably brush with a simple syrup flavored with maybe some good booze, with fresh strawberries in between the layers and billows of fortified whipped cream punched up with a bit of powdered freeze-dried strawberries. It will be a sensation!! Thanks to YOU!!

    • THANK YOU for the beautiful comment, Leyla! You really made my day <3

      I am looking forward to see your cakes, they sound delicious! If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.

      Happy birthday to your grandbabies in advance! 🙂

  30. Ciao Elena,

    Ho una pirex (baking dish) 9inx14in. È profonda solo 2in. Che proporzioni uso, se volessi poi dividerla in due per creare due strati? E quale tempo di cottura a quale temperatura? Grazie mille.

    Chiara (Toronto)

  31. I’m by all means no baker but I made this cake last weekend and it’s the best cake I’ve ever tasted -and I’ve had quite a few 🙂 I cut into 3 tiers and layered and topped with a whipped mascarpone cream and fine chopped fresh strawberries. Best recipe ever. Thank you for sharing it and giving such easy to follow and clear instructions! X

  32. Tremendous recipe and I love that’s it needs only 3 ingredients. The result does not disappoint. The proptions and exacting measures even down to egg weight are proof of real mastery. Thank you so much for generously sharing your knowhow. Best cake I’ve ever made and I owe it all to you. Thank you.

  33. hi..can this recipe be use for 2 tier cake?I’m planning to stack up 2 layers..8inch over a 10inch. will the texture allow a 2 tier support?

  34. Hi Elena,i have 39cm round cake tin i need your help if you can give me the cake recipe for this tin please thank you

    • Hi Suzy! For a 39 cm round cake, you will need 14 eggs, 420 grams flour (3 1/2 cups), 420 grams sugar (2 cups + 1 1/2 tablespoon), 3 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt.
      Baking time will be longer, you can check it after 50 minutes.
      Happy baking! 🙂

  35. Thank you Elena i will try to make it then ill let you know how it will turn..

  36. Hi, thanks for this recipe! I’ve now made it several times but with minor differences—I made a pandan-flavored sponge with passionfruit jam and coconut drizzle, and, a personal favorite—I’ve added unsweetened matcha powder to the flour before sifting. With or without tiny chocolate chips, it is heaven with a slightly mint-flavored whipped cream. Thanks again!

  37. Hi Elena, just wanted to let you know the chocolate sponge cake its so delicious and so fluffy. Thanks for the recipe, my children really loved the recipe. Tomorrow I want to try the Lemon sponge cake!

  38. Best sponge cake recipe ever! 
    I have a square pan and need measurements. It is 21 cm by 21 cm and 5 cm heigh. 
    Thank you for your time!

    • Hi Sirena! So glad you liked this recipe 🙂
      For a 21×21 cm pan you will need 5 eggs, 150 grams (1 1/3 cup) cake flour, 150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated lemon zest.
      Baking time should be the same.

      Happy baking! 🙂

  39. My first time making sponge cake and i am so glad i tried with your recipe Elena. Came out perfectly, spongy and tall. 
    Thanks for very detailed tips

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