Skip to main content

Pan Di Spagna & Childhood Memories




Mother’s Day is often celebrated with happiness or sadness, depending on whether you have your mother close by or not.  Despite this, one always remembers the wonderful times spent with her sharing simple moments like baking a cake together. Growing up in an Italian family has always meant assisting in the kitchen observing my mother, while happily wearing my hand made apron she had made for me.

Mums favourite little cooking book which she has been using since I was a child appeared before me the day I visited and found her baking  the fail proof cake  she simply calls Torta con L’uva, similar to a pound cake but with grated orange rind and sultanas.  This now fragile booklet has brought back childhood memories of when I would help her bake this cake - one of the few cake recipes found amongst a rhyming story in Italian about a little girl who sets off to bake a cake.  I remember being drawn by the rhyme and beautiful images presented.  My focus was always on reciting this story than actually assisting with the baking, clearly knowing that I would still get to eat the cake regardless of whether I helped or not. La Storia di Maria Rosa is one that many Italian children growing up in the 60’s and 70’s know and connect with their young cooking experiences.  


My mother acquired this little recipe book when we lived in the north of Italy and referred to it ever since. There are two cakes that over the years have been made from this booklet – Focaccia Primavera or better known to us as Torta con L'uva, and the other is Pan Di Spagna – a sponge cake that my sister bakes for my parents for every occasion. Being Mothers’ Day, I thought I would make it this year for a change. 

All recipes are written in Italian and endorsing Bertolini products such as Lievito Bertolini which I am certain many of us have used in our cakes. The booklet is no longer published, however I found the ebook copy you can download.  In Australia more recently I have used Pane Degli Angeli or Paneangeli, a vanilla raising agent in a small sachet of 16g in weight.



Pan Di Spagna (Sponge Cake)

The original recipe says to add 300g of flour and 200g of sugar.  I have modified the recipe to read:


1/2 cup cornflour
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
6 egg
grated lemon rind (original recipe / optional)
pinch of salt
1 sachet Lievito Vaniglinato Bertolini or Paneangeli (vanilla raising agent 16g in weight)



Separate 6 egg whites and beat until stiff but not dry. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff and shiny.  Add egg yolks one at a time and beat well.


Sift together cornflour, plain flour, pinch of salt, and vanilla raising agent in a separate bowl.


To the egg mixture fold in the flour gradually with a wooden spoon trying not to deflate the mixture.


Line a 25cm cake tin, or if you want a taller cake, use a 20cm tin and extend the paper lining so that the cake can rise above the rim of the tin.


Bake in moderate 180c fan forced oven for 25 - 30 minutes.


The sponge is lovely to eat as is or can be filled with egg custard cream and your favourite berries.  I have cut three layers and slightly soaked it with liquor before adding the cream and raspberries. Lightly dust with icing sugar.







Pan Di Spagna with custard cream and raspberries soaked in liquor


Happy Mother's Day!



Comments

  1. I have a little recipe book that is similar to that one - aren't they just gorgeous. Your cake looks so Italian - I love it

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Paola. Yes, these little books were very typical of the times. Very different today, where cooking books are read like books.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Panzerotti /Tortelli di Castagne & Cioccolato (Chestnut & chocolate filled morsels)

When I think of chestnuts, I reminisce about my birth town - Domodossola, where I was first introduced to this distinctive flavoured nut.  We were fortunate to live close to Sacro Monte Calvario, a mountain lined with chestnut trees. My mother cooked many dishes which used this flavorsome nut, especially sweets such as these panzerotti di castagne & cioccolato.  Withthis sweet mamma has more recently substituted the chestnut filling with chickpeas as they are readily available all year round and knowing that my papa`enjoys this sweetmade frequently.

Chestnut season is a favourite for our whole family and we are of the belief that if you've never had a freshly roasted chestnut you haven't lived. We often visit Daylesford in country Victoria around autumn to purchase them fresh and enjoy them roasted at the farmers markets.

This recipe is a variation of panzerotti / tortelli di ceci which I have shared previously with you.  The filling is more delicate in texture and lighter t…

Cucina Conversations: Cassatelle Siciliane

Cassatelle are typical Sicilian pastries filled with lemon scented ricotta, and also known as cassateddi in Sicilian dialect.  The name derives from the word cassata, and by adding the diminutive suffix ‘ella’ you get the word cassatella, a smaller individual serving. An assortment of these pastries can be found in different regions of Sicily and are considered traditional deserts for the Carnevale and Easter period. In researching this topic, I become enthralled by the history behind the most complex of cassate from Palermo through to these more simple-to-make pastries from Siracusa, and therefore could not help but share some of its history with you.
Sicily is known as the sweets centre of Italy, and it appears that the most colourful and famous cassatasiciliana in all its glory, is one of the reasons.  It is believed to have originated in Palermo, made with sheep’s milk ricotta – at its richest and herbaceous during Spring; and containing other ingredients prevalent to the area suc…

Cucina Conversations: Rosette di Pane (Rosette Bread Rolls)

Rosette Soffiate, or puffed rosette rolls are probably one of the hardest bread types I have attempted to make.  It has taken me many attempts and still cannot claim that I have achieved the hollow centre being 'the' inherent characteristic of this Italian panino.  This month, our CucinaConversations topic is all about bread, and provides us with an opportunity to learn more about the many bread types found in the different regions of Italy. There are claims that there are over 350 types of bread in Italy, of which many are specific to their regions while others are more widespread and exist based around religious, utilitarian or prepared for celebrations.  

This rosetta roll is ideal and typically used for fillings due to its hollow centre. In the Friuli-Venezia region of Italy, a region which borders Austria, rosette rolls are similar to Austrian bread, and have a soft, compact crumb.  Like those in Austria, they are sprinkled with poppy seeds. Rosette rolls produced in Milan…