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 86 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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479 comments on “Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna)”

  1. Hello Elena my Italian sister in law brought me a cake like this today, didn’t get recipe so searching found yours, writing it down and hoping to do it when new stove arrives, a big hello from Down under.

  2. Hi
    Can this recipe be doubled for 2 8″ spring form pans

  3. Hi! I plan to make 2 of these, one 9 in round and one smaller heart shaped. Do you think they will stack well? And what filling do you recommend? I plan to cover the top with whipped cream and raspberries. Thank you!

  4. I followed the instructions exactly. Put the oven at 335 and on the middle rack and it turned out beautiful. Thank you!

  5. Elena, I would like to try this in a jelly roll pan for a round. My pan is 12×17, but it might be just shy of 1 inch tall. I had seen jelly roll sponge cake recipes,, but all contained baking soda and often many other ingredients. I wonder if the measurement for your 9×13 would be enough because it isn’t going to be very high?
    Thanks for all your support!

  6. Hi Elena
    My cake turned out dry , I used a 15inch tin at 170.
    Should I reduce the baking time or the temperature? If so to what?
    Thanks Erica

    • Hi Erica! I am sorry this cake didn’t turn out too well for you.
      Try to reduce the baking time to 35 minutes. Also, keep in mind that it’s not a moist cake, it’s supposed to be a little bit dry.

  7. Hello,

    Just followed your recipe and made my cake and looks amazing! I can’t taste it yet though as it is for my son’s birthday party. I need to decorate it now and was going to follow a galaxy glaze method. This requires to cover the cake in white chocolate mousse – would this be ok? I then have to freeze the cake covered in the mousse – would this be ok too? Can I take it out the freezer in the morning – apply the glaze and then serve at 2pm? Any tips would be appreciated! I want it to be perfect! so far so good!

    • Hi Natasha! It will look beautiful with a galaxy glaze.
      You can remove the cake from the freezer one hour before serving.
      Let me know how it goes and happy birthday to your son! 🙂

  8. Sorry about that. Try to beat the eggs for 15 minutes and cook it slightly longer. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  9. Hello,

    I have typical 9 inch cake pan and it is about 2 inch deep. Does it have the enough depth? You have mentioned in the past posts that you said you have 7-8 inch pan and its 15 cm deep. 15 cm is pretty deep so it made me worry to use my shallow pan. I don’t want butter to over flow while cooking.

  10. Hi elena
    I came across this while searching for How to make cake flour, looked good so thought I’ll give it a try. As I was making the cake flour for another cake I added baking powder not releasing that your receipe doesn’t mention baking soda. Anyways I thought I’ll give it a try anyway.
    After baking didn’t look too appealing as top of the cake looked soggy.
    But when I started to cut the cake top off and sliced it in 4 slices to put cream in the middle knew it was a very soft cake.
    Served it for tea to my family and they all loved it.
    This is the recipe I have been searching for pass 15 years . Not sure if it’s the baking soda that made it so light and soft ideal for a fresh cream cake like the Turkish cake shop.
    I cannot thank you enough for this.

  11. Hi! I just found this recipe a week ago and have already made it twice for events. Now my 1st chocolate sponge is in the oven. I need to make small ones in 10cm springform pans. I need to make 4 . Which size round pan amounts should I use for 4 10 cm?
    BTW, everyone loves this cake, kids and adults. The chocolate cake is for a children’s birthday party.

    • Hi Rivka! If you double the recipe, it should be enough for 4 10 cm pans. S0 240 grams granulated sugar, 8 extra large eggs, 200 grams cake flour, 40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder.

  12. hello elena.can I try this recipe without a machine and expect the same results? I mean using a hand whisker.

  13. This tastes similar to the Japanese castella sponge cake! Followed recipe as directed (baked at 320 F) and it turned out fantastically, I served this cake with some homemade vanilla whipped cream – absolutely perfect. Thank you so much!!

  14. Hi Elena,

    I just opened my new toy, a SMEG stand mixer, and to “inaugurate” it, I had to find a recipe which was simple, quick and heavenly, and which would make good test of the new mixer. As soon as I saw your version of this cake, I knew it was perfect for what I wanted. The cake is now in the oven, it’s looking absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t wait for it to be done. Thanks a lot to you!

  15. Hi Elena,

    I’m trying to make mini strawberry shortcakes and I’m wanting to use a sheet pan probably 13×18 with less than an inch depth. I will be using a circle cookie cutter to make the minis after the cake is cooled. I saw you sent an email for a revised recipe for this. Can you please send one to me?

    Thanks,
    Nina

  16. Can this be baked in a sheet tray?

  17. I’ve made this cake at least a half dozen times since I found it last year. The cake is perfect everytime! I have a dairy allergy so it’s perfect for me.
    Thanks so much!

  18. Hi Elena, thank you for the great recipe! I have one question, what are the baking times for the 6″, 9″ and 10″ recipes, do they change or no?

    • Hi Diana! For the 6″ cake, you can check after 35 minutes if it’s done. The 9″ and 10″ maybe need 45/50 minutes. I hope that helps 🙂

  19. Hi Elena

    I used cake flour and for some reason the batter became very watery and reduced greatly in volume as I started to lose air. I added melted butter and milk (about 20g) at the end. What went wrong?

    Lynette

  20. Hi Elena,
    Is the oven temperature of 170°C in reference to fan or non fan oven?

  21. Hi Elena,

    Thank you for this recipe! It is always a big hit! I need to make a 14 inch cake would you have the measurements for this?

    • Hi Daniela! I am so glad you like this recipe 🙂

      For a 14-inch cake you will need: 12 eggs, 360 grams (1 3/4 cup+ 1/2 tablespoon) of sugar, 360 grams flour (3 cups all-purpose flour or 3 cups+ 3 tablespoons cake flour ), 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest or vanilla extract (optional).

      Baking time will be longer,I guess 10 minutes more…after 40 minutes you can check with a skewer.

  22. Hi Elena,

    Made this today and it came out perfectly, even at high altitude (added 1.5 Tablespoons of extra flour). I used it for strawberry shortcake and it was delicious! Thank you for your recipe, I can’t wait to try more recipes from your site!

  23. HI,

    Can you advise if you can use self rising flour instead of cake flour please?

    Thanks
    Amy

  24. Hi Elena!

    I am making a two-tiered cake with 8 layers in each cake. I prefer to cook each layer separately, because I don’t like cutting them from a larger cake. I am using a 9-inch cake pan and hope to make the layers between 1-1.5 centimeters thick. Will this recipe work? Do you have any tips?

    Thanks so much!

  25. Thank you for the recipe. I tried it last night, the cake was soft, light and tasty but a bit dry for me. Is there any way I can add butter or margarine to make it moist and at what proportion is the Margarine.

  26. I would like to use mini springform pans; 1.25 Inch tall. Would the same recipe work? Temperature and time? Thx Karen

  27. Hello, I want to use a tube pan when cooking this cake. When I cook an angel food cake, I don’t grease or flour the sides, I just put a round of parchment paper in the bottom. Should I use the same method with this sponge cake, or am I supposed to grease and flour the bottom AND the sides or just the bottom? I wondered as I thought cakes of this type need to be able to stick to the sides of the pan to “climb” it and gain some height. Thank you.

  28. Hi elena I made a 10 inch cake using your recipe and added raspberries it was a hit . Can I make cupcakes and how long should I bake it for and what temperature in a fan assisted oven?

  29. Hi Elena, I have had much success with your recipe and now I was going to try to use this lovely Emile Henry bundt baking pan, but before I did I thought I would check with you first. Have you made this recipe in a bundt pan? Should I change anything to the recipe? Or do you think if I followed like I was to bake it in a tube pan I should be fine?

  30. I only have a hand mixer, so I wasn’t able to beat the eggs quite as long as they needed because I was afraid I was on the verge of burning up my mixer. However, the cake(s) — I used 7 eggs + 210 g each sugar and flour and then split the batter into 2 pans — are beautiful. Tomorrow it will become a 4-later Raffaello cake, layered with coconut buttercream and toasted almonds. I feel it will be the perfect combination! Thank you.

  31. Hi Elena!

    If I’m going to soak this cake with a sugar syrup, when and how should I do that? After it is already cold, or before putting it in the fridge? I made it in a 9″ springform pan.

    Also, some troubleshooting questions. I measured my flour and sugar in grams using a kitchen scale, and when I beat the eggs and sugar together they got pale yellow and fluffier, but never reached the point of “sitting” on top of the batter, even after beating on high for fifteen minutes. Is it possible I overbeat the mixture and deflated it? I watched it continuously, and to me it never seemed to reach the stage you show in the pictures.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Felicia!

      Soak the cake when it’s cold.

      Sometimes it takes a little bit longer than 15 minutes… How did the cake turn out?

      • Tasty, I used a brown sugar and vanilla syrup, but not quite the texture I was expecting, I think because I never got the egg mixture to the right stage. I’ll try again this weekend and let you know how it turns out!

      • Just keep in mind that if you use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar, the result will not be the same.

  32. It looks soo yummy and tasty..I wish I could taste it..

  33. Hi Elena,
    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. Quick question – if I wanted to bake this recipe in a shallow, half-sheet pan (to cut later for zuccotto), which batch size would you recommend? Thanks!

    • Hi Jackie!
      You can use the recipe with 4 eggs (the one in the recipe card). Also, if the pan is shallow, reduce the baking time. Let me know how it goes 🙂

  34. Hi Elena,

    What is the recommended cooking time for a 6×3 (small) cake? And how much vanilla should I put in? Lastly, can you please confirm if 3/4 cup of cake flour and 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of sugar is the right conversion from metric 🙂

    Thanks!

    • Hi Dasha!
      You can cook it for 30/35 minutes and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
      The measurements: ¾ cup + ¾ tablespoon cake flour, 1/3 cup+2 tablespoons sugar
      I hope you will love it and let me know if you have any questions 🙂

      • Thank you so much, Elena! It came out beautiful! This is a wonderful recipe and it is just amazing to get a personalized response from you!

      • You are welcome, Dasha! I am so glad the cake turned out beautiful. 🙂

  35. Thank you Elena !! its a great recipe !!

  36. I am curious about cupcakes for the wedding guests. What would the difference be as you recommended Nina for her mini strawberry shortcakes?

  37. To compliment the wedding cake, we are having a cuocake tree, is your advice to Nina relevant to this experience too? I’m fine with a sheet cake and a large cookie cutter, but am open to your insights..many thanks!!

  38. Can I use this for an Italian rum cake that has the cream filling in two different layers with whip cream & nuts on the outside

  39. Hi, I had been hunting for this cake recpie for years and I finally found it. Thank you for sharing. I have a question, do i shift the flour before measuring(In cup measurement) and also after measuring while adding it to the beaten eggs?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Grace! I only sift the flour once, while adding it to the beaten eggs.
      I hope you will like this recipe and let me know if you have any questions 🙂

  40. Hi….I’m so glad I found this recipe. Thanks for sharing…..my sponges turned out perfect !!

  41. Hi! I have been looking for a Sponge cake recipe and i found yours! I just made it! Came out great! Thank you!
    My husband love this cake. His mothers use the make it all all the time, since he grew up in Italy!!!

  42. I am SOOO excited to try this cake. My favorite cake in the world is italian rum cake. Sadly, I cannot find it here out west – so I’ve been looking for recipes to make my own.

    Somehow, I wasn’t loving the recipes I was finding – they all called for two pans, splitting into four layers. The cake I remember from my childhood was three layers – but I didn’t want to split one layer into three, as it felt like there wouldn’t be enough cake. And then I found this post!

    Elena, do you have a tried and true recipe for pastry cream (vanilla and chocolate) and stabilized whipped cream?

    Thank you SO much. Looking forward to my birthday cake this year!

    • Dana, this is my recipe for the pastry cream. Just replace the lemon with 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded.
      To make chocolate pastry cream: once the pastry cream is ready, add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa power and mix well.
      Let me me know how it goes 🙂

  43. HI my sister if I use all purpose flour….can I put cornflower. …I am from Jordan …..Thanks

    • Hi Norhan! If you make the recipe with 4 eggs, you can use 60 grams of all-purpose flour and 60 grams of cornflour. Let me know how it goes 🙂

  44. Hi Elena, I have made this recipe many times with mixed results. Most of the time however, I find that the cake turns extremely sticky and soggy at the top about half an hour after removing the cake from the oven. I don’t think this is an issue with under baking the cake because it is a very deep golden brown color when I take it out. But after just 30 minutes the cake has turned soggy and wet. Do you have any notion as to why this is? Thanks!

    • Hi Eunice!

      This happens when the cake isn’t turned out onto your cooling rack soon enough and condensation has built up on the inside of the baking pan. When you removed it from the oven, did you let it cool for 10 minutes or longer? I hope this helps 🙂

  45. Hi! I wanted to try this but I don’t have a round pan for it. Can I use the same measurements in your recipe for the ingredients if I use a 9×9 inches square pan? Your cake looks really good and I can’t wait to try making it!!

    • My pan is only 1.5 inches deep

    • Hi! Yes, you can use the same measurements. As your 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. 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. 🙂

  46. Used this recipe and several others and every time the cake looks perfect when I check with a toothpick, then falls, even after leaving it in the oven with the door open.

  47. Looks so fluffy!

  48. Saludos, Elena.
    I am attempting to make a Tiramisu for the first time and would very much like to use your recipe. I have read it several times and have reviewed all the comments, but still need your help. I want to use the Wilton Loaf Cake baking set of pans to make three or four layers. They measure 10″ x 4″ x 0.75″. Can you email me directions/measurements for this size pans? Gracias!

  49. Hi I’m located in Florida and would love to try this in a 10inch square cake pan that’s 4inches deep could you send me recipe please.

  50. nice recipe am trying it this weekend.
    thanks for the recipe and explanation

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