Grandma Italian Spongecake

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Grandma's Italian Sponge cake is one of the oldest recipe traditions our family still makes from the early 1960s when mom also learned how to bake the cake.

The cake has no fat or oil content and is predominately a whipped egg white and egg yolk light cake that absorbs flavored easily when served with fruits, drowned in liqueurs, or simply delicious with some jam.

A tender cake as it sounds due to its light texture, the cake is very sold in many bakeries

We prefer the cake with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream but the cake is great with a dusting of powdered sugar and has a fresh lovely lemony taste.

Only on a special birthday would Grandma split the layers and add an Italian homemade pastry cream to the layers, recipe is also included below.

Scroll down to get Grandma's vintage printable recipe.

this is a sponge cake dusted with powdered sugar and lemon twist with a sprig of mint on top

Easy and Homemade Scratch Cake Steps

These are simple steps and have proven to be effective for years by just combining wet and dry ingredients gently for the best results.

Over mixing will ruin the tenderness, so please read the recipe before starting to mix the ingredients together.

Folding the two well-beaten eggs separately is key to the success of sponge cakes.

Ingredients You Will Need To Make

Scroll down to the recipe card for exact measurements

  • flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • egg whites
  • egg yolks
  • sugar
  • water
  • cornstarch
  • lemon flavoring
  • lemon zest


  • use parchment paper to line pans is a best practice for us
  • keep the cake in the refrigerator to prevent mold on any fruits lightly covered
  • use the toothpick method in the center to make sure it's finished baking
  • use any size baking pans round, loaf, springform, angel food cake pan etc.
  • the cake is great plain with a dusting of powdered sugar
  • always wash and blot fruit dry first before adding
  • cool completely before cutting cake or filling separately with wax paper
  • the cake is great served with whipped cream

two styles of sponge cake made from scratch with fruit and whipped cream on top

Fruit Suggestions

  1. Diced Mango
  2. Chopped Apples
  3. Diced Fresh Cherries
  4. Diced Peaches
  5. Chopped Pears
  6. Raspberries
  7. Blackberries
  8. Strawberries chopped

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Making Italian Sponge Cake from Scratch

  1. Remember a few things about making sponge cake from scratch
  2. it takes time so have patience
  3. always use good grade fresh eggs at room temperature they whip up better
  4. always sift the flour
  5. preheating the oven first is a must
  6. make sure your baking powder is new and not old
  7. enjoy Grandma's recipe and happy baking!

Grandma  Italian Spongecake

Grandma Italian Spongecake

Yield: 12
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 16 MinCook time: 45 MinTotal time: 1 Hour
This is a delicious easy sponge cake and the recipe is from the early 1900s when grandma would make this for special occasions. It's light in lemon flavor and perfect with fresh fruits.


  • Cake Batter
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch a salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • (optional)
  • Dark rum to your preference pour over the bottom layer 
  • See below for the Italian Pastry Cream recipe Grandma would fill the cake layers with for special occasions


  1. Beat whites until very stiff, set aside.
  2. Beat yolks in a separate bowl until thick and lemon-colored.
  3. Add sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, sifted flour, and flavoring.
  4. Fold in egg whites.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Pan recommendations:
  7. Use two small 8 inch rounds, or a brownie pan for tiramisu do not grease the sides of the pan just the bottom only.
  8. You can also use a tube pan if you just want a plain cake with no fillings or topping.
  9. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or till brown. Cool.
  10. Your cake is now ready for your favorite creation.
  11. Grandma would pour straight rum on the first layer, you can see some of it in the picture above.
  12. Then top with fresh fruit of choice her actual favorite was either peaches or pineapple.
  13. Suggested fruits would be pineapple, peaches, strawberries, blueberry, cherries, red or blackberry, banana, or just plain with powdered sugar or whipped cream.
  14. Cake can be baked, split in half then filled with pastry cream
  15. 2 cups whole milk
  16. 3 teaspoons dark rum
  17. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  18. 6 egg yolks
  19. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  20. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  21. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  22. Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to a boil.
  23. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. 
  24. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain.
  25.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated with milk and vanilla.
  26.  Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture. 
  27. Using strainer into the saucepan, pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. 
  28. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. 
  29. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and rum Let cool slightly. 
  30. Chill at least 2 hours
  31. Fill cake layer. Top with whipped cream.

Nutrition Facts



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More of Grandma's Recipes

Grandma's Bread Pudding

Grandma's Rice Pudding