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Torta Pollock

Torta Pollock


For those of you who haven’t yet visited Borgo di Vagli and for those who had the enjoyment of experiencing Dina’s mouth-watering casalinga cuisine in the Hamlet’s trattoria I’ cche c’é c’é, in each newsletter we continue to highlight one of Dina’s popular recipes for you to try at home. This month we highlight Dina’s Zuppa Inglese, that we like to re-name Torta Pollock, as homage to the great American painter (impossible not to imagine one of his painting looking at this photo).

Zuppa inglese is the Italian version of an English trifle and literally translated it means English soup. This renowned Italian dessert contains sponge fingers, liqueur and crema inglese (crème anglaise). It may well be a tarted-up adaptation of English trifles introduced by the many wealthy English residents either living or visiting Italy in the 19th century, and zuppa (meaning soup) could refer to the moist consistency of the dessert. But zuppa could also be derived from inzuppare, meaning to soak and in zuppa inglese, Italians replaced the jelly and jam (often red in colour) with a strong liqueur called Alchermes (or Alkermes).

Ingredients for 6 people:

  • 500 gr of ciambellone (sponge cake)
  • 1lt crema pasticcera custard
  • Coffee (enough to sop up the ciambellone cake)
  • 300 gr dark chocolate
  • Alchermes liquour (This is a very sweet, red-colored liqueur. The name comes from the Arab “qirmiz”, meaning scarlet. It was originally made by the monks of the Florentine church of Santa Maria Novella, who soaked cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla in alcohol together with herbs and sugar. The color came from the addition of cochineal. Many recipes have derived from the original one, varying according to the type and quantity of the herbs used. The final liquor has an alcoholic level that varies from 21% to 32%).

Ingredients to make ciambellone:

  • 500gr of flour
  • 250gr sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • lemon zest
  • 3 spoons of olive oil
  • ½ glass of milk
  • 16 gr of baking powder


1) Mix the eggs
2) Add sugar
3) Add flour
4) Add the grated lemon zest
5) Add the oil and the milk and mix all ingredients
6) Pour into a baking tray or ciambellone mould and cook in pre-heated oven at 180° for 40 minutes. 

Ingredients to make crema pasticcera custard:

  • 1 litre full fat fresh milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 300 gr. refined sugar
  • 60 gr. 00 flour
  • 40 gr. corn starch
  • ½ lemon zest
  • ½ vanilla pod


Separate the yolk from the albumen, put them into a large bowl, add sugar and whisk until sugar is fully mixed then add flour, the corn starch and stir until well combined. 

Pour the milk into a large saucepan, scrape out the vanilla seeds, put them into the saucepan adding the vanilla pod and the lemon zest. 

Boil the milk over high heat. When it begins to boil, turn heat to medium and remove lemon zest and vanilla pod. Now lower the heat and pour the mixture into the saucepan whisking constantly. 

When you’ll see bubbles rising softly up to the surface remove the pan from the heat, pour the pastry cream on a salver, spread it well, cover immediately with plastic wrap and wait till it cools down to room temperature. 

Now that you have all the ingredients you can prepare the Zuppa Inglese


1) Cut the ciambellone into thick slices (2-3 cm)
2) Place the slices in a casserole dish and soak them with the coffee and the alchermes liquour.
3) Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie
4) Cover the sponge cake with a layer of crema pasticcera and add the melted chocolate. 3 layers.
5) Put in the fridge and serve cool.

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