Italian Coffee Liqueur Sponge Cake

By Gina Falvo

View all articles by this author

(Layered with Chocolate and Vanilla Custard)

This is a traditional Italian sponge cake made at Christmas and for special occasions. It is not your typically light sponge cake, but a heavier texture to allow for the coffee and liqueur to soak through overnight. Mama has made sure Caterina and I know how to make this treasured family recipe for when we are all together at Christmas; this is the grand finale for our dinner.


  • 12 extra large eggs, separated
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) of granulated sugar
  • Juice and grated peel of 1 lemon
  • Juice and grated peel of 3 oranges
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) liqueur of choice (optional)
  • 15-30 ml (1-2 Tbsp) vanilla extract
  • 250 ml (1 cup) canola oil
  • 750 ml (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) baking powder
  • 1-pkg. Bartolina (Italian vanilla powder, optional)

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F).
Lightly oil a 12-inch Bundt pan with a depth of 5 inches; sprinkle with flour; shake off any excess.
Use an electric mixer throughout.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until dry and foamy. In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until egg mixture is creamy and thick. Using the mixer's medium speed, combine the egg whites with the egg yolk and sugar mixtures. Slowly add the flour, baking powder and Bartolina alternating with the canola oil, grated lemon and orange peels and juice plus the liqueur and vanilla.

Cake batter should be thick, not "watery" or thin when poured into prepared Bundt pan. Bake at 175 C (350 F) for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • 120 ml (8 Tbsp) sugar
  • 120 ml (8 Tbsp) flour
  • 1.3 litres of milk
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) vanilla extract
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 15-30 ml (1-2 Tbsp) semi-sweet cocoa powder

Boil 1/2 to 3/4 of a pot of water. Reduce to low heat until custard mixture is prepared.
Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until stiff and foamy.
In a separate stainless steel bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick. Add the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture. Beat in vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add the flour to the egg mixture, beating slowly to avoid any clumping. Set bowl on top of pot of boiling water and gradually stir in the milk with the lemon peels and cinnamon sticks. Stir continuously at low to medium heat to avoid burning - custard thickens as it cooks. Divide into two bowls: one plain vanilla and one chocolate (add cocoa). Cool. Refrigerate.


Make a litre of espresso coffee. Add 75-120 ml (5-8 Tbsp) Tia Maria or liqueur of choice and 45-75 ml (3-5 Tbsp) rum. Set aside to cool.

Divide the Bundt cake into 3 layers. Drench the bottom layer with 1/3 of coffee mixture; spread with chocolate custard. Set the middle layer on top. Drench the second layer with coffee mixture and spread with vanilla custard. Place the top layer on; drench with the remains of the coffee. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight to enhance the flavours. Next day, spread with whipped cream, dust with cocoa powder or add fresh sliced fruits such as strawberries, kiwis, mandarins, peaches, etc. before serving.

Note: The custard filling is also excellent for cannoli.

This article has been viewed 7733 times.


Showing 1 to 2 of 2 comments.

I was looking for a nice Italian coffee cake and will try this tonight. thank-you very much. God bless:)

Posted by grazia | December 11, 2010 Report Violation

Hello Gina, This is a great recipe - the cake is sooooo delicious! The first time we made it, was by hand. Next time, with a machine, it was far simpler and better. We cooked it this year as our family Christmas dessert. Thanks for posting it and a big hello from Australia! Regards, Mark.

Posted by Mark | December 23, 2009 Report Violation

Post A Comment

Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, or antisocial behavior such as "spamming," "trolling," or any other inappropriate material will be removed from the site. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our "terms of use". You are fully responsible for the content you post. Senior Living takes no responsibility for the views and opinions of members using this discussion area.

Submit Articles

Current Issue

Search For Articles


Subscribe To
The Magazine