Sponge cake

Sponge cake

Pan di spagna

The Amalfi Coast
(makes one 20 cm round cake or 8 smaller cakes)
Helen Cathcart

At Andrea Pansa, the lovely old patisserie that graces the main piazza in Amalfi, long fingers of sponge wrapped in paper are served, ready to be dunked into your breakfast coffee or after-dinner limoncello. The name translates as ‘bread of Spain’, presumably a recipe left over from the days of Spanish rule.


Quantity Ingredient
125g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
vanilla pod, seeds removed
or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 orange, finely grated zest, (optional)
125g ‘00’ or plain flour
60g see method for ingredients, melted, plus extra for greasing


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and flour either a 20 cm round tin or 8 semi-spherical moulds measuring 8 cm in diameter and 4 cm deep, tapping out any excess flour. When the oven is hot, sprinkle the sugar on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and heat in the oven for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl for 1 minute, using an electric mixer. Pour in the warm sugar and continue to whisk, adding the vanilla and orange zest, if using, until it leaves a ribbon trail on the surface. To check you’ve whisked enough, turn off the mixer and make a circle with the beaters over the bowl; the mixture should sit on the surface before sinking in. If there is no trail, continue to whisk. When ready, sift the flour into the bowl and gently fold in. Mix in the melted butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin or moulds and smooth the surface.

  3. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes for the large cake 15–20 minutes for the smaller cakes, or until golden brown and a metal skewer inserted into the cake(s) comes out clean. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack.

A note on oven temperatures:

  • It has been assumed throughout that a fan-forced oven is being used. Please adjust your temperatures to 20°C higher if you are using a conventional oven.
The AmalfiCoast
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