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Zuppa Inglese

Download pdf of recipe here.
Recipes for Zuppa Inglese first appeared in the late nineteenth century in the towns of Emilia-Romagna. Some say it originated when the Dukes of Este returned to Italy from England and instructed their chefs to recreate the English trifle they had enjoyed there.

Unlike the English Trifle, the Zuppa Inglese does not feature cream or jelly. Instead, sponge cake is soaked in Alchermes liqueur and layered with vanilla and chocolate pastry creams.

Alkermes (or Alchermes) is an ancient liqueur of Arabic origin prepared by infusing alcohol with sugar, rose water, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla and other herbs. Its main feature is its unmistakeable scarlet colour, which was originally obtained by adding “kermes“, a type of small insect. Today, the Tuscan version is made with cochineal and is difficult to find outside of Italy. You can still achieve the same colour using red food colouring, as we have suggested here.

This delicious dessert can easily be made ahead, so it’s perfect for entertaining a large group. Choose a lovely wide serving bowl and spoon it out to your guests at the table.


Pan di Spagna ( Sponge cake)
5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75 g flour sifted
75 g cornflour sifted

Pre heat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a round 24cm cake tin with butter and dust with flour.

Use an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Beat in the vanilla extract until combined, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and gently fold into the egg mix. As there is no raising agent, you need to keep as much air in the mixture as possible, so now gently fold in the sifted flours a little at a time.
Pour the batter into prepared tin and bake for 35 -40 minutes, or until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.
Remove the cake from oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
The cake can be tightly wrapped and frozen (up to 3 weeks) for future use.

Vanilla pastry cream
500 ml milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways & seeds scraped
6 egg yolks
150 g castor sugar
50 g plain flour, sifted

Pour 400 ml of the milk into a saucepan, reserving the remaining 100ml in the fridge. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and add the seeds and the pod to the milk and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse, then remove the vanilla pod and discard.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the egg yolks and the sugar until thick and pale. With the motor running, pour in about 100 ml of the infused milk in a slow and steady stream. Add the sifted floured mix to a smooth paste,
Pour this mixture slowly back into the saucepan of infused milk, whisking constantly Continue to whisk over a medium heat until the mixture comes to the boil, then cook for a few minutes. Add the reserved cold milk in a steady stream, still whisking, then remove from the heat immediately. Cover the surface of the pastry cream with a round of baking paper to stop a skin from forming as it cools. Cool to room temperature.

If you will not be using it right away, place in a bowl with cling wrap in contact with the surface, you can keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Whisk or stir again before using to eliminate any lumps that may have formed.

Chocolate pastry cream
500 ml milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways & seeds scraped
6 egg yolks
150 g castor sugar
50 g plain flour, sifted
2 tsp cocoa powder, sifted
80 g dark chocolate, grated

Make the chocolate pastry cream in the same way, adding the cocoa powder with the flour and stirring the grated chocolate into the pastry cream after it is taken off the heat. Set aside both pastry creams to cool to room temperature.

100 g sugar
400 ml water
100 mL Alkermes liqueur (or 4-5 drops red food colouring)
100ml rum

To make the syrup, put the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, without stirring (the sugar might crystallise), then remove from the heat and allow to cool. If using the Alkermes liqueur, divid the syrup into 2 halves, then add it to eh one, and the rum to the other. If using food colouring, add both it and the rum to the syrup.

Choose a deep round serving dish about the same size as the sponge.

Slice the sponge cake into 3 layers horizontally. Place the first layer of the cake into the base of the dish and brush it well with syrup, taking care not to wet it too much.
Spread a layer of one of the pastry creams on top. Repeat, creating multiple layers, alternating the syrups and the creams. Finish with a layer of sponge brushed with syrup.
Cover with plastic film and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Can be served with lightly whipped cream on top.Zoom Kobe X ZK10