Italian Sponge Cake with Pastry Cream Dessert

Zuppa Inglese is a popular Italian treat, sponge cake (pan di spagna) and layering custard, which has an amazing taste and it’s ideal for every season. You will need 180 minutes to prepare this simple dessert. Here is the recipe:

Serving 5


For the sponge cake:

  • ½ cup (125 grams) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered vanilla (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • Alchermes liqueur (a type of Italian liqueur)

For the cream:

  • 2 ½ cups (550 ml) whole fat milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup (120 grams) sugar
  • 3 ½ tablespoons (50 grams) flour
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered cocoa (optional)



To make the sponge cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5. Cover a baking tin with a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg white until you get “snow eggs” (a thick and fluffy mixture). Then, apply the rest of the ingredients and beat all over again.
  • Spread the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Next, remove the cake from the oven and from the pan. Apply it on top of another cake pan, then cover it with a wet towel and allow to cool (it will help you to remove and cut the cake layer easily).
  • Meanwhile, prepare the cream for the filling.

To make the cream:

  • In a large saucepan, pour the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest (if using) and warm it.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with sugar. Then place the flour and starch (if using). Smoothly pour the warm milk and combine well.  Next, return the cream to the saucepan and heat it again, continuing stirring gently, till it reaches a slow boil.
  • Then, if using powdered cocoa – divide the cream in 1/2 into 2 separate bowls. Put the powdered cocoa into 1 bowl and combine to incorporate.
  • In a cake tin or transparent bowl, apply a layer of sponge cake soaked in alchemies liquor, then cover with a layer of chocolate cream. After that, apply another layer of sponge cake and yellow cream. Repeat the process. decorate with chocolate, meringue, or berries (if desired).
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Buon Appetito!


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