Have you ever tasted torta Paradiso? As easy and heavenly as its name! Made of eggs, butter, and flour, this traditionally Lombard cake, is enriched and topped by plenty of powdered sugar. It is a true trip down the memory lane!
Its fluffy texture makes it perfect for breakfast; generously sprinkled with sugar Paradiso cake turns into an irresistible mouth-watering treat in the middle of the afternoon. Scented, toothsome, so fluffy that it literally melts in your mouth, so crumbly that it falls apart in your hands, so delicious you have to close your eyes when you taste it as it blisses you out! You must try it at once!
What is the origin of its unusual name?
“This cake is a piece of Heaven!”, a noblewoman shouted out when she first tasted a cake by a Lombard pastry chef at the beginning of the 19th century. I am sure you will think the same. Since then this cake has become the symbol of the town of Pavia, the classic of classics in the Italian patisserie.
Healthy and high quality products, such as fresh eggs, organic naturally vanilla-scented lemons and oranges, are the simple ingredients which make this cake fluffy, sweet and full of aroma. Something unique!
A few golden rules to bake a wonderful Paradise sponge cake.
- All the ingredients must be at the same temperature; mix the powder and liquid ingredients alternately: this will enrich the texture of the cake;
- Use stand mixer such as KitchenAid to evenly combine the ingredients;
- Bake in static oven, and never open the door during the cooking time;
- Replace caster sugar with powdered sugar;
- The original recipe doesn’t want any baking powder, but I usually add just a little bit to stabilize the rising process.
Choose the right ingredients:
- Sugar: vanilla powdered sugar guarantees a very homogeneous batter-I have tried several kinds of sugar, this has given the best result. Along with whipped butter, it makes the batter silky, and creamy: it means ,a tasty, fluffy cake. Buy good quality sugar, vanilla will give the cake an even stronger and more pleasant aroma;
- Butter is, in my opinion, the most important ingredient, so opt for high quality organic scented one; if you live in the countryside, buy it at the local farmers’ market. Take it out of the fridge some hours before preparing the cake, you should use it at room temperature because softened and malleable butter is better whipped with sugar. If it is too cold, it won’t get fluffy.
- Eggs: you may encounter countless recipes of this cake, and all of them want eggs but their number greatly varies from 2, which is not enough, to 12 which makes the texture and the taste of Paradise Cake too heavy. Four whole eggs and one yolk is the right comprise; slightly beat room temperature eggs before adding them to the other ingredients.
- Baking power is an extra ingredient. Precisely, I use 11g of instant baking powder PaneAngeli for sponge cake. It is composed of cornstarch, potassium tartrates, sodium carbonate-chemical yeast.
- Lemon or orange: you have to grate the peel just before using it in order to give Paradise Cake its unique scent and taste. Opt for organic a fresh lemon: if you find it with some green leaves on the stalk, you are sure about its freshness. The origin of the product may not be always certain, so make your choice according to the season. Lemon balances the sweetness of the other ingredients and give the cake a pleasant scent.
- Vanilla: I use the seeds of half a pod of vanilla. If you can’t find vanilla powdered sugar add the content of a whole pod into the batter. As last resorts, you may use vanilla extract.
- Flour: I use type 00 because it rises better and it is more stable. Then I add some potato starch to make the batter fluffier. The result? Simply amazing!
The genuine recipe of the Italian Paradise sponge cake
- 4 eggs
- 1 yolk
- 200 gr vanilla powdered sugar + some for the decoration
- 120 gr butter
- 100 gr potato starch
- 180 gr flour type 00 or patent flour or pastry flour
- freshly grated peel of half a lemon
- 1 bag instant baking powder PaneAngeli for sponge cake
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 1 pinch salt
- Beat the butter with the sugar and the freshly grated lemon peel (carefully wash and dry the lemon: grate only the yellow part) with an electric beater, or in stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Beat for at least 15 minutes until a creamy and fluffy. Butter and sugar must combine evenly in a as white as snow smooth mixture. It’ll take a few minuets, be patient.
- Slightly beat one egg at a time and pour it into the mixture: add another egg when you have incorporated the previous one. Beat at low speed until fluffy and smooth;
- Sift the flour, the potato starch, the baking powder, and the salt; mix in a spoon of flour at a time. The flour has to be completely incorporated before adding another spoon. Continue to beat with the paddle attachments until smooth and creamy;
- Pour the batter into a 24cm diameter springform pan lined with parchment paper and smooth the top;
- Pre-heat the static oven at 180°C (356°F) and bake for about 40 minutes; before opening the door, wait about 30 minutes, until the surface gets golden brown;
- Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake: if it is comes out clean, your cake is done;
- When still hot, release the side of the springform pan and place the cake upside down onto a large flat serving plate, peel away the parchment paper; let it sit for about 15 minutes (otherwise it will get too moist);
- Invert the cake back onto a cooling rack;
- Let it cool completely;
- Generously sift powdered sugar all over the top of the cak
How can you store Paradise Cake?
It keeps its fluffy texture for about 2 days at room temperature in a cake container.
You may freeze it in single serving slices without powdered sugar.
To be honest, I don’t like it very much, but this variation fits those who can’t eat butter. Replace it with oil, and vary the quantity of eggs: 80g of egg yolks, and 100gr of whole eggs. Emulsify the egg yolks with 70g of olive oil until it looks like a kind of mayo and sift in 100 of sugar. In another bowl beat the whole eggs with the remaining sugars and then combine the two egg mixtures together.
A very…very toothsome variations
If you want your Paradise cake even more heavenly, or if its texture is too compact (if the oven cooks unevenly, sometimes it gets dry), you may fill it with something …creamy.
What about some nutella, nut or pistachio-nut cream, peanut butter, or jam? How? Well, it is easy. Cut the cake horizontally into two layers with a long bladed knife and spread the cream onto the bottom cake layer.
Do you feel like tasting a true delicacy: a super scrumptious milk whipped cream. It is so good, that it is also produced industrially and sold in the supermarkets.
Whip 250g of heavy whipping cream (read the the package instructions and buy sugar added cream) until stiff peaks form. Stir in 50g of cold evaporated milk (put it into the fridge after buying). Whisk until well combined, refrigerated for about 2 or 3 hours and then spread it onto the cake. Make 1 cm thick layer for a moist melt in your doing cake!
Keep in mind: sprinkle with powdered sugar very very generously. You won’t be able to resist…bite after bite.