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Zuccotto is light as a feather yet full of fruit and soaked with rum. Fill it with fresh fruit such as, strawberries, raspberries or peaches. You can prepare it as shown here in this recipe or serve it in a pretty bowl, maybe one with a pedestal, top it off with the whipped cream and scoop it out.
Pane di Spagna is a light sponge cake found in most markets in Italy. It is often layered with mascarpone, pastry cream and fruit. Biscotti are also crushed and layered in the same manner. These are common everyday desserts in Italy and are very easy to prepare. There are no rules, just use the fruits that are in season.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: Follow a recipe for pastry cream
Yield: 1-10”x5” Cake, 12 servings
3- 9” x 2” plain sponge cakes or cut in half 2 Pane di Spagna
6 large, fresh peaches or 1 large container fresh strawberries
2 pastry cream recipes
1/2 cup dark Rum
2 cups Confectionary sugar
1 cup water
1 16 oz. container whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 pound almond slices, toasted
OTHER THINGS NEEDED
Bowl 10” x 5”
PANE di SPAGNA
Chef Franco, Pasticceria Monte S. Angelo, (Foggia) Italia
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes @ 375ºF
Yield: 1 10” sponge cake
1 cup flour, sifted
1 cup confectionary sugar
6 large egg yolks, beaten
6 large egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
2 teaspoons lemon or vanilla extract
OTHER THINGS NEEDED
10” round layer cake pan
Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Beat the egg yolks, add the confectionary sugar and extract and blend well until the batter is smooth. Add in the sifted flour a little at a time and blend well. The batter will be a little thick at this point. Fold 1/4th of the egg whites into the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites gently.
Pour it into a greased baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes. Prick it with a cake tester until it come out dry.
If you are using fresh peaches, peel them and cut them into slices. Put 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a pan and dissolve the sugar until you have syrup. Place the peaches in the syrup and cook them until they are soft, but still have a slight stiffness. Remove them and allow them to cool, and reduce the syrup to about 1 cup. You can add a little peach brandy or rum to the syrup. Sprinkle the syrup over the cake instead of the rum as you would if you were using fresh strawberries. You can also use canned peaches. If using strawberries they should be washed, shucked and sliced.
Make the pastry cream according to the recipe directions and let it cool.
Cover a 10” x 5” bowl or form with plastic wrap so that it completely covers the bowl. It should come down the outside of the bowl enough to fold over the cake at the end.
Cut the cakes in half and cover the bottom and sides of the bowl with the cake. Sprinkle a little rum or syrup over the entire cake. Spread a layer of pastry cream over the bottom of the cake. Place another layer of cake over the cream and sprinkle it with a little rum or sryup. Slice the strawberries or peaches and place them over the cake. Cover the fruit with another layer of cake again sprinkling the syrup or rum. Put another layer of fruit over the cake and another layer of pastry cream and cover the cream with the last layer of cake. This should take you to the top of your bowl. Bring the plastic wrap over the top of the bowl covering the entire top of the cake. Place a plate on the top with a weight, such as a can of tomatoes and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
Place almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown. Watch them carefully as they will brown quickly.
Whip the cream in a cold bowl until the cream starts to stiffen. Add the vanilla and confectionary sugar and beat until the cream forms stiff peaks.
Cover the entire cake with the whipped cream and pat the toasted almonds over the cake. Return it to the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.