Italian Rum Cake – Zuppa Inglese

  • Average Rating: (0 / 5)
  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 30m
  • Cook Time: 20m
  • Ready In: 9:50 h

This moist, creamy, and flavorful dessert, zuppa inglese (“ English soup”), has its roots in the English trifle and it was thought that it first appeared during World War II, when British soldiers were stationed in Italy with only meager custard rations. However, the recipe appears in Pellegrino Artusi’s book, published in 1891, before any Allied forces had been stationed in Italy. Other theories reach as far back as the Renaissance. Zuppa inglese is traditionally made with sponge cake, but I use savoiardi (lady finger) cookies, as are used in tiramisù, hence making the assembly much quicker. This dessert was a staple of every Italian American restaurant, and every Italian bakery made a version of it.


  • 2 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 Cup Saputo Mascarpone at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons Cornstarch
  • Pinch Kosher Salt
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Diced Candied Orange Peel
  • 1/4 Cup Rum
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Sleeves Savoiardi (lady fingers)


Step 1

For the pastry cream, pour the milk and ¼ cup of the sugar into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together ¼ cup sugar, the cornstarch, and pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the egg mixture bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you do not cook the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Return saucepan to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring and whisking, until mixture just simmers and thickens. Immediately remove from the heat and scrape into a bowl to cool. Once cooled, mix in the chopped chocolate and candied orange. Refrigerate until chilled and thickened, at least 1 hour.

Step 2

For the sugar syrup, bring 3 cups water and 1 cup of the sugar to boil. Boil until reduced by about ¼. Remove from heat, stir in the rum and let cool completely.

Step 3

When you are ready to assemble the zuppa, whip the cream, the remaining ¼ cup sugar and the mascarpone to soft peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream mixture, along with the cinnamon, into the chilled pastry cream.

Step 4

In a 9-by-13 inch Pyrex or other rectangular dish, make a flat layer with half of the savoiardi. Brush with half of the sugar syrup to moisten all of the savoiardi. Spread half of the pastry cream over the savoiardi. Top with another layer of savoiardi and brush them with the remaining syrup. Spread the rest of the pastry cream over top in an even layer, the spread with the whipped cream. If you have any savoiardi left, crumble them over top. Chill several hours, or overnight, to let the flavors come together before serving.


The distinct creamy consistency and fresh milky character of Saputo Mascarpone guarantees its superb flavour, making it the ideal cheese for a wide range of recipes. With its delicate fresh creamy taste and easily spreadable texture, it is the ideal ingredient for desserts.

Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!”

Lidia Bastianich is bringing her Italian gusto to Canada with Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!” February 10, 2013 at Toronto Centre for the Arts. Beloved celebrity chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich has spent the last forty years promoting Italian culture and cuisine across North America. And while adoring Canadian fans have enjoyed watching Lidia on TLN, they’ve never had the opportunity to see her in a Lidia Live performance… until now! Lidia’s culinary roadshow, Lidia Live!, makes its Canadian debut this February 10, 2013 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in Toronto.

Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!”, Sunday, February 10, 2013, Toronto Centre for the Arts. Purchase Tickets through Ticketmaster.

About Lidia

Lidia’s live and interactive performance is being admiringly entitled “Stirring Stories: From the Kitchen and the Heart” and comprises a live cooking demonstration of favorite recipes intertwined with enthralling personal story telling.  Audiences have a rare chance to see Lidia in action, live and in-person, ask her questions and learn tips from the Queen of Italian Cuisine herself! From humble immigrant roots, Lidia’s passion for food, family and pleasing people drove her to build a gastronomic empire consisting of six restaurants, vineyards, a cooking school and Italian food emporium (EATALY in Manhattan), a television production company and a series of best selling cook books.  According to Lidia, “Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways.  It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from”.

Watch Lidia’s Italy on TLN, Monday to Friday 9:30pm, Sundays 2:00pm to 4:00pm

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