Requires: X2 24cm round cake pans, 1.5 litre pudding bowl (alternatively a round bowl or 24cm loose bottomed cake pan), electric mixer (or hand beater)
Steps 1-10 to be completed 1 day ahead.
Preheat oven to 180°C conventional oven (350° Fahrenheit/Gas 4). Grease X2 24cm round cake pans by lightly buttering the base and sides with margarine or butter. Line the bases with baking paper, then lightly butter over the baking paper. Add a heaped tablespoon of cornflour or plain flour) in each cake pan, then turn and shake to coat the butter in flour on the base and sides of the cake pans.
To make the Pan di Spagna (Italian sponge cake), use an electric mixer (or hand beater) to beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
Use a wooden spoon to stir in the cornflour, one tablespoon at a time. You want to see air bubbles rise to the surface of the cake mixture before adding additional tablespoons of cornflour. Stir in the sifted baking powder and vanillina (optional) into the cake mixture. Lastly add the lemon zest and stir until well combined.
Divide the cake mixture into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the Crema diplomatica, you need to create Crema Pasticciera (Italian pastry cream) and Crema Chantilly and blend them. It is a combination of 2 parts Crema Pasticciera and 1 part Crema Chantilly.
Tip: To make the Crema Pasticciera, heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan over low to medium heat until just before boing point, then remove from the heat. Place the egg yolks and castor sugar in a large stainless-steel bowl. Whisk until foamy and creamy then slowly whisk in the flour, tablespoon by tablespoon, until well combined. Continue to whisk and slowly add the warmed milk to the egg mixture until combined. Return the Crema pasticciera to the saucepan over low heat. Add the orange zest and continue to whisk until thick (it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon). Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
To prepare the Crema Chantilly, refrigerate a stainless-steel bowl for 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the fridge. Place the thickened cream into the cool bowl. Add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla bean paste). Use an electric mixer or hand beater to beat until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When the Crema Pasticciera has completely cooled, use a spatula to fold half of the Crema Chantilly into the Crema Pasticciera, a little at a time, until well combined and smooth. Refrigerate the portion of Crema Chantilly. The Crema diplomatica is now ready to use.
To make the Strega syrup, combine the Strega liqueur, water and sugar in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.
Note: Strega is one of our favourite Italian herbal liqueurs. It contains approximately 70 herbal ingredients including mint and fennel. The presence of saffron is what gives Strega its yellow color. While we have chosen Strega for this recipe for the flavour and yellow colour, you could use another liqueur of your choice.
To make the Torta mimosa, I use a 1.5 litre pudding (or round bowl) as I find that the cake looks best in a dome shape. Alternatively, you could assemble the Torta mimosa in a loose bottomed cake pan.
Tip: Use a serrated knife to slice one of the sponge cakes into three horizontally. If using a pudding (or round) bowl for this recipe, line it with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic wrap to hang over the edge of the bowl. Alternatively, line your loose bottomed cake pan with baking paper on the bottom and sides. Arrange 1 sponge cake layer in the bottom of the bowl (or cake pan). Using a pastry brush, generously soak the sponge using 1/3 of the Strega syrup. Spoon 1/2 of the Crema Diplomatica over the bottom sponge layer and smooth the surface using the back of the spoon. Arrange 1/2 of the strawberries on top of the cream. Repeat using the second layer of sponge cake, then soak in Strega syrup. Add the remaining Crema Diplomatica and strawberries. Top with the final cake layer to tightly cover the top of the bowl (or cake pan). Brush the top of the sponge cake using the remaining Strega syrup.
If using the pudding (or round bowl), cover the Torta mimosa with the overhanging plastic wrap and top with a flat plate. Place a heavy can on top of the plate and place in the fridge to set overnight.
Slice the second sponge cake into 1.5cm thin strips. Cut one strip in half to form 4 long strips, then cut the strips into small cubes. Repeat using the remaining sponge cake. Turn the Torta mimosa onto a serving plate. Remove and discard the plastic wrap (or baking paper). Arrange the remaining Crema Chantilly all over the Torta mimosa. Press the sponge cake cubes all over the Torta mimosa cake. Cut into 8 wedges to serve – buon appetito.