Italian Cakes & Dessert Recipes


Sponge cake is an extremely soft and spongy sweet pastry commonly used in confectionery.

Around the middle of the eighteenth century, the Republic of Genoa, having commercial relations by sea with other states including, as we know, Spain, France and Portugal, probably sent one of its ambassadors to the court of Madrid, to the king.

The ambassador in question was the Marquis Domenico Pallavicini, scion of a wealthy family. On his departure, Domenico Pallavicini, in addition to various diplomatic advisers, brought with him the staff of his house, i.e. a butler, cooks, porters, etc.

Among the men accompanying Pallavicini was a young Ligurian confectioner, Giobatta Cabona, who had been in the service of the ambassador’s family for years.

At a reception in Madrid, Pallavicini commissioned him to make a different kind of cake.

With a simple manipulation of the ingredients, starting with the classic Biscotto di Savoia, Cabona created a beaten pastry of extreme lightness; once the cake had been tasted, there was such amazement and enthusiasm at the Spanish court that it was deemed right to christen this marvel of lightness with the name Génoise.


Makes two 10-inch cakes.


  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 1/2 oz. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 1/2 oz. cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
  • pinch of salt



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Coat two 10-inch round cake pans with shortening.


2. Blend the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a mixer bowl with a wire whip attachment until the mixture doubles in volume-about 15 minutes on high speed. Just before stopping the mixer, add the vanilla and mix in.


3. Sift together the cake flour, cornstarch and salt. Fold dry mixture into egg mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, just until blended.


4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and put them immediately into the preheated oven. Bake until tops are springy to the touch, about 45-50 minutes.


5. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool on a wire rack. When cool, use a long serrated knife to slice off the tops of the cakes.

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