Go Back
5 from 1 vote
Portuguese Sponge Cake (Pão de ló) with Strawberry Compote
Portuguese sponge cake (pão de ló) with strawberry compote
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
Pão de ló is one of the most popular cakes in Portugal. This simple light and spongy cake dates back to the 1700s. It's a perfect companion to an evening coffee or tea.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Azores, Brazilian, Canadian, Italian, North American, Portugal
Keyword: pão de ló, Sponge cake
Servings: 10 to 12 slices
  • 1 + 1/2 cups sugar
  • 7 large eggs whites and yolks separated, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup water at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp creme of tarter
Strawberry topping
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 cups strawberries , hulled and sliced
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 ºF
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar, on medium high until light and fluffy.

  3. Reduce the stand mixer to medium speed and add the water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix until well combined.
  4. Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl.
  5. Pour the yolk mixture over the flour, whisk together and set aside.
  6. In a clean stand mixer bowl, add the egg whites and beat on medium high.
  7. Add the cream of tarter after about 1 minute.
  8. Once the egg whites start to form soft peaks, slowly pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar while continuing to beat.
  9. Keep beating until stiff peaks form. To test this, remove the stand mixer whisk. Peaks should stand without tipping over. This can take about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the egg whites to the remaining ingredients and fold in with a rubber spatula until well combined. Note: Do not over mix or beat the ingredients during this step.
  11. Run cold water inside of the tube pan with cold water and let it drip out.

  12. Pour the batter into the tube pan and place the pan in the oven on the middle rack.
  13. Bake for 55 minutes or until a cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean.
  14. Place the cake pan upside down on a heat resistant surface and let cool for about 30 minutes.
  15. Carefully run a sharp knife around the edges of the cake.
  16. You should be able to pull the tube and cake out from inside the pan.
  17. Carefully run a sharp knife between the cake bottom and the pan bottom to loosen the cake from the pan.
  18. Lift the cake and place it on a cake plate or platter.
  19. Let the cake finish cooling.
Strawberry topping
  1. Add the water and cornstarch to a medium pot.
  2. Whisk the cornstarch until it dissolves in the water.
  3. Add the sugar and turn on the heat up to medium high.
  4. After one minute, add the strawberries and lemon juice, and stir to combine all ingredients.
  5. Once the mix starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cover.
  6. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stir every 3 or so minutes.
  7. Uncover and shut off the heat.
  8. Let cool down. The compote will thicken a bit.
  9. Serve warm or cold on slices of the sponge cake.
  10. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes
  • This strawberry topping is also perfect on pancakes, waffles, ice cream or any other dish that goes with fruits and syrup.
  • You can also use frozen strawberries if they're not in season. Let them cook an extra 3 minutes.