Pan di Spagna

Nearly every Italian family has a tried and true pan di spagna (sponge cake) recipe that’s been handed down and passed around. Some call it ciambella or ciambellone. I’ve tried many different pan di spagna recipes over the years and none comes close to the one my husband’s Zia Antonietta shared with me. It’s as light as an angel food cake, yet moist and lemony.

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 sachet vanillina
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy (about 10 minutes)
  4. Add oil,water, vanilla, lemon zest and juice.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in the flour mixture. Make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and there are no lumps.
  6. In another bowl, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  7. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter.
  8. Pour mixture into an ungreased angel food cake or ring cake pan. Do not use a non-stick pan for this recipe because it will prevent the cake from rising properly.
  9. Bake for 1 hour.
  10. Once cake is done, immediately turn upside down and allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

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