It really isn’t fair. It’s not! My sister-in-law in Italy turned 40 and didn’t even get a cake. Not a even a store bought cake. Niente! Nothing!
My sweet sister-in-law had her birthday last week. Teresa (my mother-in-law) shook her head in surprise, “No one bought her a cake? I always make her a cake. Her husband gave her another pair of gold earrings. How many earrings does she need?!?”
A very valid point indeed. Does a woman need good cake or a nice pair of earrings on her birthday? Feeling guilty that her cake-making mamma was here during her birthday spoiling us, I decided we should make the cake she would’ve eaten and we will celebrate and sing to her here! Brilliant idea!
Teresa always makes the same cake. I posted about her cake here
this past July. We were in Italy in June and she made the cake for my father-in-law. Torta alla Panna means Whipped Cream Cake. Teresa always makes the cake with a Pan di Spagna recipe, which is basically a sponge cake. Then she fills it with vanilla pudding and on top is delicious homemade whipped cream and whatever fruit she has in season. We had a container of gorgeous organic strawberries to decorate the top. We used a box of Jello-O instant vanilla pudding to hurry up the process because we had company arriving to celebrate with us!
It made me smile to watch my husband helping his mother with this cake. While we were decorating the cake, Fabrizio arrived from work on his break and jumped in to give us a hand. I left the two of them alone working on the decorating and took the photos.
This cake is moist and aromatic from the liqueur we used. The pudding in the middle adds the perfect touch of creaminess. If you have time to make your own pudding, please do so. If not, the boxed pudding is wonderful and none of our guests noticed the difference. I recommend making your own whipped cream. There is truly nothing like the flavor of homemade whipped cream.
Torta alla Panna
Pan di Spagna ingredients:
12 inch round cake pan
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 small box Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
1 pint whipping cream
container of strawberries
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4-1/2 cup of Rum or your favorite liqueur (use more or less depending on your taste.If you don’t like taste of alcohol, add orange juice or lemon juice to the sugar syrup)
Whipped Cream Directions:
pint of heavy whipping cream (I used organic)
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Chill a medium sized metal bowl in the freezer. Remove bowl from the freezer and add the heavy whipping cream to the bowl. Using a hand mixer on high speed, whip the cream until soft peaks begin to form; gradually add in the 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Continue to beat the whipped cream until it is thick and velvety. (about 1-2 minutes). Don’t over beat or you will have butter.
Directions to make Pan di Spagna
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-inch round cake pan with parchment paper (or 2 9-inch cake pans). Beat the eggs all at one time with the sugar on high speed until it is nice and frothy. Beat in the vanilla.
Sift the flour and baking powder.
Beat in the sifted flour on medium speed in small doses.
This is how the batter should look. Just delizoso!
Pour the batter into the lined cake pan. Teresa didn’t butter and flour it. She put it in dry.
Bake the Pan di Spagna for 30 to 40 minutes, until it is well risen and feels firm when pressed gently with the palm of the hand. Check the cake after the first 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t getting too brown. Every oven is different. If needed, lower the temperature to 325 for the rest of the baking time.
While the cake is baking, whisk together your pudding mix.
Let the cake cool completely.
Slice the cake carefully in half. Let boil one cup of water with 2 tablespoons sugar.
In a bottle add your liqueur and the sugar syrup (we used mandarinetto that Teresa made and brought from Italy. She recommends Rum very highly). Squirt the syrup on the bottom layer very well with 1/2 the bottle.
Spoon on the pudding around the bottom layer.
Spread out the pudding evenly with a spatula.
Carefully place the second layer on top.
Squirt on the other 1/2 bottle of syrup on the top of the cake.
Whip the cream until nice peaks form.
Start spreading the whipped cream around the top and sides of the cream.
We decorated the top with strawberries sliced in half.
Pipe the sides of the cake with more whipped cream.
Finish adding the rest of the strawberries to the top.
And this is an Italian birthday cake!
We had Italian friends come over after dinner. We ate cake. We sang and had espresso. We laughed. We also were celebrating the end of my surgery and the road to my recovery. It was a beautiful cake and a special moment put together spontaneously.
I’m not too sure that Teresa is happy I’m sharing this recipe. She came by as I was loading the photos to the post and said, “La torta e’ bella.” She said, “It was made by me and decorated by my son.” The look of pride in her face was palpable. Then she said “Someone will put it in their cookbook and make money with it.”
I hope you enjoy Teresa’s birthday cake recipe! You can make this cake any time. It is not difficult and is an example of simple Italian baking.
Wishing you a GREAT week! Thank you for stopping by to say “HELLO!”