My First Zuppa Inglese (Ada Boni Part 3)

Part three and Ada Boni is still beating me.

This was my first time making Zuppa Inglese. Sticking to my original challenge, I knew nothing about the recipe prior to baking. I had no idea what it should look or taste like. At one point, while baking I shouted out loud “ooooooh I’m making pudding!!!”…yup.

I believe this is my best creation from the Ada Boni cookbook thus far; however, it was just as stressful as the first two. I was flustered while baking because it uses THREE different recipes to make one dessert. The Zuppa Inglese recipe is the final result but to make it, I also had to follow the Pan di Spagna (Italian Sponge Cake) and Pasticciera Cream (pudding) recipes.

At the end of 2 hours of baking, I was satisfied with the result from my first try. Keep reading to see the recipes, where I went wrong, and what I plan to do next.


The Recipe(s)

Pan Di Spagna

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup pastry flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 5 egg whites

Place egg yolks and sugar in mixing bowl and beat until lemon colored. Add flour, a little at a time, blending in well. Add vanilla and lemon rind. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into cake mixture. Butter and flour a cake pan about 18 inches square. Pour in cake batter and bake in moderate oven (375oF) 40 minutes. Turn over on cake rack and cool.

Pasticciera Cream

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups milk 1 tablespoon butter

Place sugar, egg yolks, flour, lemon rind and vanilla in saucepan and mix together well. Scald milk and pour over mixture, beating constantly with rotary beater. Continue cooking on low flame, stirring with wooden spoon, until mixture reaches the boiling point. Cook 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from fire, add butter and mix well. Pour into bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent skin from forming over top. Serves 4.

Zuppa Inglese (English Soup)

  • 1 recipe pan di Spagna (sponge cake)
  • 1 1/2 jiggers rum
  • 1 1/2 jiggers creme de cacao
  • 1 recipe cool pasticciera cream
  • 1 tablespoon candied fruit, cut fine
  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Cut sponge cake into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle half the slices with rum and the other half with creme de cacao. Spread the bottom of a 10-inch heat-resistant dish with a little of the pasticciera cream and place on it 2 layers of the cake soaked with rum. Pour pasticciera cream over cake and sprinkle with candied fruit. Cover cream with 2 layers of cake soaked with creme de cacao. Beat egg whites until stiff, add sugar and beat again. Pile egg whites on cake and bake in slow oven (300oF). 20 minutes. Cool before serving.

what went wrong

Per usual, I had an oops…and of course it happened within the first 3 minutes of baking.

It was the Pan di Spagna that ruined me. In the directions, the first step is, “Place egg yolks and sugar in mixing bowl and beat until lemon colored”. I read through the directions at least three times before starting because I wanted to avoid mistakes…I guess I was anxious because I put the eggs whites instead of egg yolks in with the sugar first :(.

Zuppa Inglese is supposed to have at least four layers of sponge cake according to Ada Boni’s recipe. Unfortunately, mine only had two because of my egg mess up. Today, many bakers use baking soda, baking powder, corn starch, and more as their rising agents.

During the time Ada Boni published “The Talisman Italian Cookbook”, bakers primarily whipped egg whites to make cakes airy and fluffy. Because I was not able to whip my egg whites properly, I believe my cakes did not rise enough for me to split them.

Below are photos I found on Google of Zuppa Inglese. Each picture shows the cake is unique to the baker. The number of layers, the toppings, and the fillings are all different.

Here is a photo of my result:

My version looked very different from the examples I pulled off of google; however, it was still tasty.

The baking as a whole went fairly smoothly with only few curse words and loud sigh screams. I had my whole family and my boyfriend and his parents taste test the result to determine what should be different.

next recipe/steps

Instead of trying a new recipe, I plan on refining this one with my own touch. Ada Boni’s recipes are lovely because they are teaching me many new techniques in baking, but they are also quite basic (without decoration or flair). My goal next time I make this recipe is to add my own flair.

I plan to:

  • Pipe on the whipped eggs to give it a more finished look
  • Add chocolate shavings to the top
  • Add a small shot of espresso to the layers of coffee rum soaked sponge cake

where to follow the journey

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out the original three by following the links below:

Check out my Instagram account to see live coverage of my baking mishaps :/

If you’re more of a Facebook person follow the link HERE to my Facebook page!

Thank you all!

Let me know what you think of Zuppa Inglese and if you have any advice on how the recipe can be improved, I’d love to read it in the comments!

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