Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Custard

By Thursday, February 25, 2016 2 Permalink

Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd layer one with fruit

WARNING: This is the first cake I’ve ever baked so for all you bakers out there who see my mistakes, shhhhh it still tastes great.

From ages 5-13 my favorite dessert was Italian sponge cake. Not chocolate cake or brownies. Not pumpkin pie. Not cinnamon rolls. Extremely simple white cake, whipped cream, a little custard, and fresh fruit. Ok, honestly I just ignored the fruit and went to town on the rest of the cake because I was a child and thought fruit was a waste of my time, but the point is that each year on my birthday when I could reasonably ask for any dessert I wanted, I asked my Mom to make Italian sponge cake. This is the recipe she used to make those cakes.

Now, I have no idea how truly Italian this cake recipe really is. There are loads of so-called Italian sponge cake recipes on the internet and they’re all pretty different but most of them seem to agree that real Italian sponge cake only has 3 ingredients; flour, eggs, and sugar. This recipe calls for 6 ingredients, one of which is baking powder, which apparently really changes things. But what do I know?

Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd bottom layer

I am not a baker, and I’m kinda not all that interested in the strict science of baking. There is less room for improvisation and that is what I’m all about in kitchen. I drive Julia crazy with my fly by the seat of my pants baking, and now that we’re 8 episodes deep into The Great British Baking Show I can see why. Granular mistakes in your prep, sugar introduced at the wrong time, or cold eggs instead of room temp and your whole bake will be rubbish and you should throw it in the bin. That’s British speak, seriously watch this show on Netflix – the bakers are very, very good and probably the nicest people ever featured on the telly.

Anyway I may not be a baker but there is truly nothing I love in this world more than baked goods, so surprisingly this is my very first cake I have ever baked, using my Nana’s recipe from the 1960s. I think it turned out pretty well, though I obviously need to work on my decorating. The key with this cake is that you don’t want the actual cake to be too strong in flavor or density. You want a fluffy and light cake, an ideal vehicle for the custard you paint its insides with and the gallons of heavy whipped cream you smother it in.

Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd layer one

Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd naked

A few notes on the monstrous cake I made – it is really waaaaaaaaaaaay too big and I had no idea it would be this huge before I made it, so the recipe below is for only half the portion that I came up with. More cake for me though!

Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd close up

Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd piece of cake

Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Custard
Print Recipe
A simple cake with fresh whipped cream and lemon custard, like most simple cakes this recipe requires a fair amount of precision and patience but the result is the ideal combo of fruit, custard, cake, and whipped cream.Before starting make sure you have the following ready: Hand mixer with chilled blades; 10+ minutes in the freezer should be sufficient A food processor Spring form pan Leave your eggs out for 30+ minutes to bring them down to room temperature
Servings Prep Time
12 Slices 60 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes 20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 Slices 60 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes 20 Minutes
Italian Sponge Cake with Lemon Custard
Print Recipe
A simple cake with fresh whipped cream and lemon custard, like most simple cakes this recipe requires a fair amount of precision and patience but the result is the ideal combo of fruit, custard, cake, and whipped cream.Before starting make sure you have the following ready: Hand mixer with chilled blades; 10+ minutes in the freezer should be sufficient A food processor Spring form pan Leave your eggs out for 30+ minutes to bring them down to room temperature
Servings Prep Time
12 Slices 60 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes 20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 Slices 60 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes 20 Minutes
Ingredients
For the cake
For the custard
For the whipped cream
Servings: Slices
Instructions
The cake
  1. Separate the egg yolks and the whites into different large bowls.
  2. Beat the yolks with a whisk until creamy yellow and gradually add the sugar until the mix is even.
  3. Slowly add the flour, intermittently adding the water to loosen things up and save your arm from dying. Set aside when smooth.
  4. Use a hand mixer or rotary mixer to beat the egg whites and baking powder until they form hard peaks.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the batter and pour the batter into an ungreased spring form pan.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.
The custard
  1. Peel the rind off a lemon and add to a food processor with the sugar. Chop until finely mixed.
  2. In a mixing bowl cream the butter, slowly add in the lemon, sugar, and salt until the mix is consistent.
  3. Add the eggs and lemon juice and blend until smooth.
  4. Cook in a sauce pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring consistently.
  5. Set aside to cool and settle.
The whipped cream
  1. Take the hand mixer blades out of your freezer.
  2. On high speed in a large mixing bowl whip the heavy cream on high speed, adding the sugar and vanilla as you go. Whip until whipped. Ja feel?
Constructing the beast
  1. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  2. Slice the cake horizontally about half way down the cake.
  3. Smother the top of the bottom half of the cake with the custard. Add sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries for an extra surprise when you cut into the cake.
  4. Put the top half of the cake back in its place.
  5. Cover the whole thing in whipped cream and as much fresh fruit as you can find. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

The cake will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.

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  • 1. the lighting in your food photos incredible
    2. I’m making this cake this weekend after this post

    • 1. Thank you and also we take most of them on the floor next to the window. Weird? Not weird? Food photography to me is bizarre.
      2. Yay! Let us know how it turns out.