A classic Italian cream cake just like Nonna use to make is a basic sponge cake, that is soaked with some sort of liqueur, filled with pastry cream and covered whipped cream.
Here I will be showing the classic way of assembling a popular Italian cake.
The four essential ingredients are.
A sponge Cake
To make an Italian cake for about 8-10 people you will need a fatless basic sponge cake of about 25cm or 9in. (I have used a rectangle sponge for the photos)
If you have your recipe of a fatless sponge that you are happy with it use that otherwise here is a simple basic sponge cake recipe for you to try.
A traditional Italian pastry cream is what is called for with this Italian cream cake.
For this size cake you can use this pastry cream recipe (using 700gr of milk) just double the amounts stated in the recipe. You will find other variations of this cream that you may prefer too.
The more classic liqueurs used in making this cake here are Rum and Maraschino. I have used another liqueur that is popular here Alchermes, from the photos below you can see that this liqueur has a bright red color. Of course if these flavors are not to liking simply change them.
Wetting the sponge with the liqueur straight from the bottle can be a little too strong for my liking.
For an Italian cake this size I would measure out about a cup and a half of water and then add the liqueur to it. How much depends on your preferences, I just use the good old Italian way… Taste it!
Note... Prepare the water and liqueur a little at a time as not to waste the liqueur because once it is mixed with water it will not keep well.
Real milk fresh cream does fit perfectly with this Italian cream cake, but it is not really what is commonly used here. I have had my bakery for 20 years here in Sardinia and I can count on one hand how many cakes I have sold using fresh cream.
The majority of Italian's prefer a sweeten vegetable based whipping cream. Of course the choice is yours…
Assembling your Italian Cream Cake.
Your Italian cream cake base is ready.
Pop in the fridge over night. I like to assemble the cake and cream base 2 days before for better flavor and then I finished the cake off with the whipping cream on the day I will serve it.
A simple and quick solution for decorating the cake is by whipping up the cream , spooning it on to the cake, making soft peaks and dusting it with some cocoa powder.
Like I said this is a very simple homemade style but there's nothing to stop you from going to town by using a piping bag, adding cake decorations or even fresh fruit.
If you're looking for a more of a professional look here are a few easy steps.
1. Start off by placing a few spoon's full of whipping cream on top of the cake and spreading it out evenly.
2. Place a star nozzle into a piping bag and fill with the whipping cream
3.Being with the sides first, pipe the whipping cream by simply going up and down the side of the cake. Make sure your lines of cream are close together so that it completely covers the cake.
4. Finishing off by piping shells around the boarder of the cake
Viola!! Your Italian cream cake ready to decorate with whatever you like.
This cream cake is an ideal base for any occasion. Although the majority of Italians do like a little bit of liqueur in their cake it can be easily substituted with fruit syrups.
Here are a few photos of decorated cake that I have made using this recipe and method.
As you can see the cream cakes can be decorated very simply or you can even go to town on them.