The Amalfi Coast
(makes one 20 cm round cake)
Helen Cathcart

This light and stunningly pretty cake is traditionally served on Women’s Day in Italy. The top of the cake is made to look like mimosa blossom by covering it in crumbled sponge. Try to find corn-fed chicken’s eggs to make the sponge as it will make it all the more yellow and impressive.

For the sponge


Quantity Ingredient
2 quantities Sponge cake

For the syrup

Quantity Ingredient
100ml water
100g caster sugar
50ml strega liqueur, grand marnier or brandy

For the custard

Quantity Ingredient
500ml milk
vanilla pod, seeds removed
or 1 teaspoon vanilla extrac
3 egg yolks
1 lemon, finely grated zest
100g caster sugar
45g cornflour
150ml whipping cream


  1. Using two 20 cm round cake tins, start by making the sponge following the Pan di Spagna: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and flour a 20 cm round tin, tapping out any excess flour. When the oven is hot, sprinkle the sugar on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and heat in the oven for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl for 1 minute, using an electric mixer. Pour in the warm sugar and continue to whisk, adding the vanilla and orange zest, if using, until it leaves a ribbon trail on the surface. To check you’ve whisked enough, turn off the mixer and make a circle with the beaters over the bowl; the mixture should sit on the surface before sinking in. If there is no trail, continue to whisk. When ready, sift the flour into the bowl and gently fold in. Mix in the melted butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin or moulds and smooth the surface.
  3. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until golden brown and a metal skewer inserted into the cake(s) comes out clean. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack.
  4. To make the syrup, heat the water with the sugar and liqueur in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. To make the custard, heat the milk with the vanilla in a medium saucepan until warm. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon zest, sugar and cornflour. Whisk in a little of the warmed milk and then pour this mixture into the sauce pan with the rest of the milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, then remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface with clingfilm to avoid a skin forming. Allow to cool. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks then whisk it into the cold custard.
  6. Meanwhile, trim the brown crusts off all sides of one of the sponge cakes and then crumble the yellow centre into a bowl using your fingers, or whizz briefly in a food processor. Cut the other sponge in half horizontally and drizzle the syrup over both sides of the cut sponge to moisten it. Put the cake on a cake board if you have one to make it easier to pick up and turn around.
  7. Use a palette knife to spread one-third of the cream over the bottom half of the cake and carefully place the other half on top. Smother the top and sides of the cake in the remaining cream and scatter over the sponge crumbs. Transfer to a serving dish and admire your work!

A note on oven temperatures:

  • It has been assumed throughout that a fan-forced oven is being used. Please adjust your temperatures to 20°C higher if you are using a conventional oven.
The AmalfiCoast
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