I know some of you may be experiencing lovely cooler temperatures. I am happy for you. I really am. I’m also extremely envious of you.
It’s not often that I find the right moment to bake with my mom. She is an amazing baker and inspires me with her creativity and talent. My sweet friend Lizzy asked the both of us to create a recipe for her blog this summer when she was on vacation. It was end of school year time for me and we were also planning a big trip to Italy. I couldn’t say no to Lizzy and I also couldn’t say no for a chance to bake with my mom.
Baking with my mom (the other Lizzie) is sometimes quite the adventure. Usually, it gets a little loud. We argue and boss each other around. We can’t cook or bake together when my husband is home. He thinks we are fighting with each other when actually, we’re just passionately discussing why we think the other person is wrong with their idea. I’m always right. She’ll say she’s always right. But through all the silliness, we do sometimes come up with some wonderful creations, like this lovely cake.
I almost let the whole summer slip by without sharing the recipe here for my own memory and also for any of you that may want to try it one day. It’s a sweet way to salute the impending end of summer.
It’s a beautiful cake and it is really not that difficult to make. The pan di spagna (sponge cake)is light as air and really versatile. It is my mother-in-law Teresa’s recipe. She makes her cake for every birthday. She sometimes fills it with pudding or crema pasticciera (pastry cream). My mom was thinking of a way to showcase the gorgeous strawberries we were enjoying at the height of the season. Her strawberry filling with stabilized whipped cream is a filling I remember her making when I was a little girl. It’s not too heavy. Not too sweet. And is absolutely delicious. Mom did the pretty decoration with the strawberries. Really, she was the brainchild behind this recipe. All I did was bake the cake and drive her crazy in the kitchen. (If you want to see some photos on how Teresa (my mother-in-law)makes the pan di spagna cake, it's over here.
Pan di Spagna ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions to make Pan di Spagna
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or use baking spray) two 9-inch round 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.
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 20minutes 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.
Set on wire rack to cool.
Strawberry Filling with Stabilized Whipped Cream
To make the stabilized whipped cream:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 Tablespoon cold water
1 cup cold heavy or whipping cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a small bowl, add gelatin to cold water. Let it dissolve.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream for about 1 minute.Add the gelatin and the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until it gets thick and starts to form peaks.
To prepare the strawberries:
2-lbs of fresh strawberries (1 ½ box for filling. Other ½ is for decorating)
1 cup granulated sugar
Juice and zest of one lemon
Hull and slice 1 ½ box (reserve the other ½for decoration) of strawberries. In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, strawberries, juice and zest of one lemon.
Cook until strawberries get soft and macerated over medium heat. As soon as they get thickened, add the slices from the additional ½ box of strawberries. Fold and incorporate with the macerated strawberries in the thickened sauce.
To assemble the cake:
Let the strawberries cool down for a few minutes and spread on one portion of cake.Spread on top of the strawberries with a spatula the stabilized whipped cream,ending with the second layer of cake. With the spatula, spread the remaining whipped cream on the sides and decorate with the additional strawberries leaving stems on and cut into half. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy the Summer Strawberry Cake.:)