Gennaro’s Italian Sponge Cake Recipe

I don’t know about you, but I love my local Italian deli. They’ve been in business for 35 years and are a great example of a local family-run business with a strong customer focus and a great presence in the city of St Albans – joining in with the St Albans Food Festival, fetes and fairs. I buy all my seasonal produce from my deli, Italian ’00’ flour for pasta and baking, fresh cheeses (including local cheeses) and Italian antipasti.

Bertolli are running their second annual Bertolli Spread Olive D’Oro Awards and they have asked me to share a competition with you – if you vote for your favourite deli over on their site you could be in with a chance of winning a holiday to Palma, Italy.  In return, I have a wonderful Italian Sponge Cake recipe to share by Jamie’s mentor Gennaro Contaldo – called a Torta Paradiso.

There are six categories within the competiton-

  • Best Deli Café
  • Best Deli Store Cupboard
  • Best Family-Run Deli
  • Best Produce
  • Best Deli Dish
  • Best Customer Service

See the details below the recipe or the Bertolli UK website for more information on where to vote.

Gennaro's Italian Sponge
Image courtesy of Bertolli

Torta Paradiso (Italian sponge cake with a creamy filling)

This is a traditional Italian sponge cake, sometimes known as Torta Margherita.  Over time, it has evolved and a creamy filling is sometimes added. It makes a wonderfully rich and creamy cake which is perfect to enjoy for dessert or for afternoon tea.  Using Bertolli Spread simultaneously gives both the cake and filling the creaminess it deserves and makes it lighter and healthier for all to enjoy! 

Servings: 6-8


  • 4 x eggs, separated
  • 200 g Bertolli Spread & extra for greasing
  • 200 g sugar
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 50 g cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 x sachet vanilla powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 1 x lemon
  • Sifted icing sugar

1 x round cake tin 22 cm in diameter – lightly greased and lined with baking parchment paper

For the Creamy filling (makes approximately 300g)

  • 50 ml water
  • 150 g sugar
  • 6 x organic free-range egg yolks  – make sure they are very fresh!
  • 175 g Bertolli Spread
  • Seeds of 1x vanilla pod or 1x sachet of vanilla powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks until well amalgamated.  In a larger bowl, cream together the Bertolli Spread and sugar.  Gradually add the yolks.  Gradually fold in flour, cornflour, baking powder, vanilla powder, salt and lemon zest.  Gently fold the stiff egg whites this into the mixture with a metal spoon until well combined.
  3. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.  You can check if it is cooked by inserting a wooden skewer in the centre, if it comes out dry the cake is ready.  Remove, tip out onto a wire rack to cool, then with a sharp knife carefully cut horizontally into two layers.
  4. For the Creamy filling – Combine water and sugar in a small pan, place on a low heat, stirring from time to time until the sugar has dissolved and you obtain a syrup consistency.
  5. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and gradually add the syrup.  Leave the mixture to cool.  Then add the Bertolli Spread and vanilla seeds or powder and continue to whisk until you obtain a creamy consistency.  Place in the fridge and use when required.
  6. Spread the creamy filling over the cooled cake layers and sandwich together.  Sprinkle with lots of sifted icing sugar over the top and serve.

TIP  ~  For a really tasty filling, mix some strawberry or raspberry jam into the creamy mix!

© Gennaro Contaldo

Gennaro Contaldo has teamed up with Bertolli to call on the nation to back its best Italian delis in the second annual Bertolli Spread Olive D’Oro Awards. To vote for your favourite deli visit the Bertolli website here.


Disclosure: I’m happy to share the details of the Bertolli Spread Olive D’Oro Awards with you as I am very much behind campaigns to support local artisan and local family-run businesses.  I have received no payment or compensation to endorse this competition – other than Gennaro’s recipe to share.  

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