Growing up in an Italian family, being in the kitchen has always been a big part of our time spent together. While my dad was young, he spent every Sunday with my great-grandparents, Nonno and Nonna, and often spent summers with my extended family in Italy, where he developed a love for Italian cuisine. My dad wove this passion for food into my childhood, too, taking everything he learned over the years and passing it on to my sisters and me. 

Being the die-hard dessert person I am, I always gravitated toward my Nonna’s Sunshine Cake once I started experimenting in the kitchen on my own. This sponge cake is quick and simple to make, and a perfect summer treat for those who don’t love cavity-level sweetness in their desserts. The secret ingredient is fresh orange juice, just enough to give the cake more complexity without overpowering the overall flavor. Sunshine cake is great served on its own, with a side of fresh fruit or — if you’re feeling fancy — dressed up with an orange zest glaze to add an extra punch of citrusy goodness. My family eats it for breakfast (why pass up an excuse to have cake for breakfast?), but this dessert is also a perfect no-fuss option for any summer event. 

Sunshine Cake Recipe:


  • 5 eggs 
  • 1 ½ cups sugar 
  • 4 ounces whole milk
  • 4 ounces oil (I use canola or vegetable)
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • Juice squeezed from 1 orange 


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Add parchment to the bottom of an angel food cake pan. (If you don’t have one: try using this hack with a round pan and an aluminum can!) Then grease the parchment and sides of the pan with room temperature butter.
  3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat the eggs for about 4 minutes until they are light and fluffy. 
  4. Incorporate the sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. 
  5. Add milk, oil and orange juice to the egg mixture. Stir to combine. 
  6. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
  7. Add the dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredients, incorporating just until the batter is uniform (without any lumps). 
  8. Add the batter to the prepared angel food cake pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Glaze Recipe


  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice (squeezed from an orange, not from a bottle!)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon salted butter, melted 


  1. Combine the sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a bowl. Whisk together until there are no lumps. 
  2. Add in the melted butter and whisk until evenly combined.
  3. Drizzle over the top of the cake once it has completely cooled.
  4. Share and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a crowd pleaser this summer, give this one a try! It’s a low-labor treat with a little taste of Italian sunshine that’s sure to impress anyone.