In this post you’ll get the authentic Pan di Spagna recipe, the Italian sponge cake.
Pan di Spagna is the base for delicious desserts like Cassata, Zuppa Inglese, cream cake or Zuccotto.
Read on for the Italian sponge cake recipe from scratch.
WHAT IS PAN DI SPAGNA AND WHY IT IS CALLED THE SPANISH BREAD
The Italian sponge cake, pan di Spagna (Spanish bread) has quite a story.
The no-yeast, many eggs and little flour, basic pan di Spagna recipe, was born in Madrid and introduced to hungry courtiers at a great banquet held by the Genovese ambassador Pallavicini!
You were probably thinking: if this sponge cake is called “Spanish bread” and was conceived in Madrid, why are you saying it’s Italian?
Not only because it’s patron was from Genova, but also because the inventor pastry chef, Mr. Giobatta, was Italian as well!
One of the ways it came back to Italy was through the Spanish Domination in Sicily, when it substituted “pasta frolla” in the Cassata recipe. You can find the whole story in Palermo’s Simposio, by the way!
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THE PAN DI SPAGNA RECIPE
Nevertheless, besides culinary controversies and questionable origins, here’s how to make the lemon or vanilla Pan di Spagna sponge cake from scratch.
You can make one medium cake or two small ones. I always do that when I’m making a birthday cake or a two or more layers cake (with a lot of “crema pasticcera” in the middle… mmmmmmh…. and strawberries!).
Pan di Spagna or Italian sponge cake
- 3 eggs
- 3 teaspoons boiling water
- 2.6 oz 00 flour 75 gr or 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon
- 2.6 oz white sugar 75 gr or 1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon
- a few drops of vanilla essence or 1/2 lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- a medium size cake mold
Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C).
Place the eggs in the stand mixer's bowl, whisk and add the teaspoons of boiling water - one at the time. You should get a frothy mixture.
Still mixing, add the sugar and whisk until frothy again.
Pour in the flour through a fine sieve and delicately, to incorporate as much air as possible, mix with a wooden spoon.
Add the lemon zest and mix.
Butter the cake mold and sprinkle it with a tablespoon of sugar, shake and swing to make sure it adheres to all the surface, including walls.
Pour the mixture inside the mold and bake 35-45 minutes (stick in a wooden skewer or a knife, if it comes out clean, the cakes is ready).
Bring to room temperature before unmolding the cake.
Enjoy your Italian sponge cake!