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Grandma’s Italian Cream-Filled Sponge Cake

My childhood summers were spent at my grandparents, eating Grandma’s famous sponge cake. She would always serve it chilled, so the cold Italian cream just hit different in the sticky, salty summer air. Because she was the ultimate Italian Grandma, her only ambition in life was to watch her family eat her food, and I assure you she achieved that ambition time and time again with this Italian cream-filled sponge cake.

And, of course, she insisted I make the cake with her, which I was more than eager to do. All I wanted as a kid was to be in the kitchen, and Grandma started me young! Before she passed, Grandma handed her recipe down to me on a scribbled, stained note card. Over the years, I have slowly tweaked and—sorry, Grandma! No tea, no shade—improved it. This cake is extremely versatile, and what I consider a true recipe hero.

There are three ways I love to top my Italian cream-filled sponge cake: Mixed berries tend to be my favorite and really shine in the summer. Toasted coconut is another surefire winner as well. Or you can go super traditional and flourish the top with a shake of confectioners’ sugar and a scattering of roasted pistachios. All versions should be served with a big dollop of whipped cream—Grandma wouldn’t have had it any other way!

This recipe was developed for Food52, and the entire recipe can be found here.

You can watch me make this recipe on the Food52 Youtube Channel here:


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