Italian Rum Cake

Total Time
2hrs
Prep
1 hr
Cook
1 hr

Italian Rum Cake is a delicious 3 or 4 layer cake, which is a tradition for birthdays/special occasions in many Italian families. There are 3 basic parts to the cake; sponge cake layers, pasticciera cream (filling) and (stabilized) whipped cream. Below are the recipes for all three parts. If you make it with 3 layers, omit the whipped cream layer. The sponge cake and pasticciera creams may be made a day ahead. The whipped cream should be whipped just before assembling the cake. Prep/Cook times do not include the 3-4 hour chilling time for the pasticciera cream. PLEASE NOTE: This is an egg leavened cake! The egg yolks and whites MUST be beaten to the correct volume and consistency or the recipe will not work. Also, the other ingredients must be folded in (beaten WHITES folded INTO the YOLK/sugar mixture NOT the other way around) in the order given in the directions or the cake will not turn out. The finished layers will be thin depending on the size of your pan. The smaller the pan, the thicker the layers and the longer the baking time needed. If you are expecting this cake to turn out like a "Génoise or American sponge cake," you will be disappointed as this is not a Génoise sponge recipe.

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Ingredients

Nutrition

Directions

  1. Italian Sponge Cake (Pan di Spagna):.
  2. Place egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until very thick and lemon colored (mixture should be at least doubled in volume, and thick like frosting - it can take up to 15 minutes (or longer with a hand mixer) of beating to reach the proper volume/texture) .
  3. Add flour, a little at a time, gently folding it in until well blended.
  4. Gently fold in vanilla and lemon rind (if using it).
  5. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into cake mixture.
  6. Butter and flour an 18-inch square (or a 9 x 13 x 3, or a 11 x 17 x 2-inch half-sheet) cake pan, (make sure pan size will fit your oven; you could also use three 8 or 9-inch layer pans).
  7. Pour cake batter into prepared pan(s) and bake at 375°F for 15 to 35 minutes (depending on your oven and the volume of your pans.), or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Remove cake from oven and turn out (of pan) onto a cake rack to cool completely.
  9. Cake can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated overnight, or frozen (up to 3 weeks) for future use.
  10. Italian Pastry Cream (Pasticciera Cream): Place sugar, egg yolks, flour, lemon rind (if using it), and vanilla in a sauce pan and mix together well.
  11. In a separate sauce pan, scald milk.
  12. Very slowly pour milk over egg yolk mixture, in a thin stream, beating constantly with rotary beater.
  13. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches the boiling point.
  14. Cook 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
  15. Remove pan from heat, add butter and mix well.
  16. Pour into bowl and let cool, stir occasionally to prevent skin from forming over the top.
  17. If using as a filling, chill (with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming) until very thick (about 3-4 hours).
  18. Chocolate Pasticciera Cream: Place sugar, egg yolks flour, and vanilla in a sauce pan and mix together well.
  19. In a separate sauce pan, scald milk.
  20. Very slowly pour milk over egg yolk mixture, in a thin stream, beating constantly with rotary beater.
  21. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches the boiling point.
  22. Cook 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
  23. Add chocolate and while stirring, cook 1 minute longer.
  24. Remove pan from heat, add butter and mix well.
  25. Pour into bowl and let cool, stir occasionally to prevent skin from forming over the top.
  26. If using as a filling, chill (with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming) until very thick (about 3-4 hours).
  27. Rum Syrup*: Mix together the water, sugar, and rum in a small pot.
  28. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  29. Remove from the heat and cool before using.
  30. *NOTE:If you prefer not to use rum syrup, you may sprinkle/brush cake layers with 1/3 cup rum which has been diluted with 1/4 cup water.
  31. Stabilized Whipped Cream - Corn Syrup Method: In a large chilled bowl, with chilled beaters, beat cold cream until it just starts to thicken.
  32. Add corn syrup and vanilla from the side of the bowl, and beat until stiff peaks form.
  33. Stabilized Whipped Cream - Gelatin Method: Prepare gelatin- Soak plain gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes.
  34. Dissolve by placing it in a container over a small pot of simmering water, stir until dissolved.
  35. Set aside to cool before using.
  36. In a large well-chilled bowl, with well chilled beaters, beat cream with electric mixer.
  37. Just before it becomes soft and billowy, slowly add the sugar and vanilla to the whipped cream at the sides of the bowl, continue to whip as you do.
  38. Whip the cream until barely stiff.
  39. Add melted and cooled gelatin all at once to cream during whipping.
  40. Stop whipping when cream forms soft peaks.
  41. Finish beating with whisk to adjust consistency to stiff peaks.
  42. Use/serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.
  43. If peaks have softened during refrigeration, rewhip by hand using a whisk.
  44. Rum Cake Assembly Instructions: Slice sponge cake in half to form two 9 x 18-inch layers Using a long, thin bladed knife, cut/split each layer in half lengthwise making four thin 9 x 18-inch layers.
  45. Place bottom sponge layer on platter cut side up, sprinkle/brush with about 1/4 of the rum, be careful not to get the cake too wet, or layers will become soggy.
  46. Allow sprinkled/brushed rum to soak into the cake for about 5 minutes.
  47. Sprinkle/brush remaining sponge layers (on the cut side) evenly with remaining rum.
  48. Spread a layer of vanilla pasticciera cream on the first sponge layer.
  49. Top the vanilla cream layer with another layer of rum sprinkled sponge cake.
  50. Spread a layer of stabilized whipped cream on the second sponge layer.
  51. Top the whipped cream layer with another layer of rum sprinkled sponge cake.
  52. Spread a layer of chocolate pasticciera cream on the third sponge layer.
  53. Top the chocolate layer with the last layer of sponge cake.
  54. Frost the top sponge cake layer (and sides of cake, optional) with remaining stabilized whipped cream.
  55. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.
  56. Refrigerate any leftovers.