Zuppa Inglese Cake


This classic Italian cake, similar to the British trifle, was made by Martha Stewart Living prep kitchen manager John Barricelli for Martha's mother's birthday.



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch cake pans; set aside. Fill a medium saucepan 1/4 full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer.

  2. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg yolks and 1 cup sugar. Place over saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and egg yolks are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. Test by rubbing between your fingers; egg yolks should feel smooth.

  3. Transfer bowl to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add vanilla and salt. Beat on medium speed until pale and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Wash mixer bowl and whisk attachment, and dry well.

  4. In the clean bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Beat on high, until stiff glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes.

  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the egg-yolk mixture. Gently, but thoroughly, fold in remaining egg whites. Gently fold in flour, then butter, mixing until just combined.

  6. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake, rotating cakes halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, and let stand until completely cool.

  7. Trim cakes' tops. Cut each cake in half horizontally, creating 4 layers. Place one layer on a 9-inch cake round. Brush with simple syrup. Spread with half of the pastry cream. Top with second layer. Brush with simple syrup. Top with a 1/4-inch-thick layer of whipped cream, about 1 cup. Top with third cake layer. Brush with simple syrup. Spread with remaining pastry cream. Top with final cake layer. Brush with simple syrup. Coat entire cake with an even layer of whipped cream. Use remaining whipped cream to decorate, as desired.

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