Pan di Spagna is an easy super light cake that can be also flavored with vanilla, lemon zest, or orange zest.
Watch the video instructions for this Soft sponge cake recipe.
4 Ingredient sponge cake
Unlike other, sponge cakes this basic Italian Sponge Cake doesn’t need oil, butter, or baking powder. The Pan di Spagna can be also eaten as it is with a cup of tea.
This classic egg sponge cake is used in many Italian desserts, for example, Zuppa Inglese and Tiramisù or Cassata and Zuccotto.
So delicate, it is the perfect sponge, fluffy soft base for any kind of cake and takes on moisture nicely from fruit, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic syrups and can be layered with pastry cream or Chantilly Cream.
Sponge cake ingredients
For this Italian Sponge cake, you need just a few ingredients: eggs, flour, potato starch, and sugar. Pan di Spagna is indeed a classic recipe of Italian cuisine and therefore it is one of the most used bases in pastry.
Tips to succeed with this Soft Sponge Cake Recipe if your bake it for the first time:
- Before you start to make this cake, preheat the oven at 340°F (170°C) and grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan (20 cm).
- Use room temperature eggs.
- Since this egg cake has not Leavening agent like baking powder, you need to incorporate as much air as possible when you whisk the eggs, so don’t rush this part! 🙂
- Sift the flour and potato starch at least 2 times.
- After that, Incorporate the flour/potato starch mix into the batter carefully one spoon at the time.
- Do not open the oven for the first 30 minutes or as a result your cake will deflate!
- Every oven is different, please after the baking time, do also the toothpick test.
- Turn off the oven but leave the cake inside for 5 minutes with the door slightly open.
- Remove the sponge cake from the oven, let it cool inside the pan for 10 more minutes.
- Take a knife or offset spatula and run it around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan and flip it on a cooling rack upside down (without the pan) to cool entirely.
- When the Pan di Spagna is in the oven, look at the surface, if it becomes too golden already halfway through cooking, lower the temperature a little.
- If the sponge cake is golden brown at the end of the cooking, and you see that the edges come off the pan then the Sponge cake is probably ready.
- To be sure do the toothpick test, if it comes out dry then the sponge cake is finally ready.
- Our advice is to prepare this base the day before, let it cool completely then sealed entirely with cling film.
- It will be more compact, easy to cut, and also it will take better the weight of the filling.
- This cake needs to be moistened before adding the filling.
We recommend using simple syrup (alcoholic, and non- alcoholic) and/or fresh fruits, it will work as well.
In general, a soft, fluffy, and moistured sponge base will make a big difference in the flavor of your final cake.
- Cake flour instead of the All-purpose flour Substitute
- (Gluten-free base) All-purpose flour with potato starch and add also 1 teaspoon of baking powder for a gluten-free cake base.
Without filling you can preserve this cake at room temperature, completely sealed with a plastic wrap for about 3 days.
You can also freeze this easy sponge cake for a couple of months.
With filling in the fridge for up to 2 days.
This is our “foolproof” soft sponge cake recipe.
In conclusion, we hope that this egg sponge cake will become your best sponge cake recipe for all the Italian desserts.
- 1/3 cup and 1 Tablespoon of Potato starch (60g)
- 1/2 cup of 00 or all-purpose flour (60g)
- 1/2 cup and 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar (120g )
- 4 medium eggs (Room temperature)
- Optional but suggested 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar/vanilla extract, or lemon zest.
Before you start to make this cake preheat the oven at 338°F (170°C) and grease and flour an 8-inch springform cake pan (20 cm).
Beat the eggs and sugar with a stand mixer for 10 minutes minimum on medium speed. 15 to 20 minutes is optimal. It is during this stage that air gets incorporated.
Sift the flour and potato starch together (at least 2 times)
With a hand whisk, incorporate the flour mix to the eggs one tablespoon at a time, slowly turning in that flour not to deflate those beautiful eggs.
Pour the batter in the cake pan and use a toothpick in a circular motion without touching the bottom to smooth the batter and to get rid of the bigger air bubbles
Bake in the lower part of the oven at 325°F 160°C for about 45-50 minutes (depends on your oven).
Do the toothpick test, if it comes out dry then the sponge cake is ready.
REMEMBER: do not open the oven for the first 30 minutes!
Turn off the oven but leave the cake inside for 5 minutes with the door slightly open.
Remove the sponge cake from the oven, let it cool inside the pan for 10 more minutes.
Take a small knife or offset spatula and run it around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan and flip it on a cooling rack upside down (without the pan) to cool entirely.
Our advice is to prepare this base the day before, let it cool completely then sealed entirely with cling film. It will be more compact, easier to cut it, and also ready to be wet with a liqueur or syrup. It will take better the weight of the filling. To moisturize the cake, we recommend using syrup or fresh fruits will work as well.
Looking for a chocolate cake instead? Watch this!