Among the best known desserts in the Tuscan capital, without a doubt the soup English is one of the most loved. An ancient dessert that, according to many, was imported from England to Tuscany in the nineteenth century, a period in which a large community had settled in Florence and its countryside English. Most likely these wealthy families used Tuscan peasant women and housewives as maids and cooks; It is therefore possible that these women, learning to cook a particularly light, velvety and fast cream, then passed it on in their gastronomic culture.
Others argue instead that it is a Tuscan dessert, invented in Fiesole to be precise, based on the fact that Alchermes, the main ingredient of the recipe, was created in Florence.
However it is today we want to cheer you with the recipe of Paolo Gori, chef of the Trattoria Da Burde of Florence, which illustrates its version.
Zuppa inglese (Italian Trifle)
For the sponge cake: 75 g of 00 flour, 75 g of potato starch, 4 eggs, 150 g of sugar. For the English cream: ½ liter of milk, 4 egg yolks, 125 g of sugar, vanilla bean. For the chocolate cream: see English cream without vanilla with the addition of 2 tablespoons of cocoa. For the bath: Alchermes, water.
Prepare the custard. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, then add the seeds of the vanilla pod. Meanwhile, with a whisk, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture becomes creamy. Now pour the milk, a little at a time, into the egg and sugar mixture, then put the preparation back on the heat and stir continuously until the cream has thickened. Follow the same procedure to make the chocolate cream.
For the sponge cake, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is consistent. Incorporate the flour and starch a little at a time. Beat the egg whites until stiff with an electric whisk and then add them to the egg yolk mixture, turning slowly so as not to remove it. Grease and flour a cake pan, pour the dough into it and bake it in a preheated oven at 180 ° C for about 35 minutes. Once cooked, let it cool.
Wet the sponge cake with the alchermes mixed with a little water and place the two creams on top, alternating them.
“Also called the English soup, this spoon dessert dates back to the early nineteenth century. Its characteristic is the custard, a recipe that does not include the use of flour and therefore requires greater manual skill because, as is known, if the milk boils, it makes the egg tear and therefore the cream goes crazy. The English cream was then accompanied with what was available, still today there are those who enjoy it with sponge cake and those with donut, always soaked in liqueur. Here in Florence we use Alchermes, but let's not fossilize, Vermouth could also be fine ”.
Text taken from "At the table from Florence to Chianti. A journey through food and wine. Raw materials, recipes and historical events"of Milko Chilleri, edited by Expos.