English Soup — Soft Spoon DessertVIEW ALL POSTS
English soup is a soft spoon dessert made up of layers of custard and cocoa, interspersed with sponge cake (or delicate sponge fingers) soaked in alchermes.
- 657 calories per serving
- Difficulty: medium
- Preparation: 60 min
- Cooking: 50 min
- Serves: 4 people
- Cost: average
- Note: + the cooling time of the sponge cake and cream
The pastry is the result of three things. The first is perfection: pastry is pure chemistry. An example? The magic cake, a cake that is made up of 3 different layers with magic that would not exist without the studied balances. The second characteristic is the error: very important desserts, such as caprese from Campania or French ganache was born from forgetfulness. Finally, the pastry is also a mixture and transformation of great classics, such as Saint Honorè or trifle. An English dessert that probably inspired this recipe: the English soup. English soup is a very famous dessert, classified among the typical pastry products of Emilia Romagna, and has become a classic, with variations from region to region. Preparing the English soup is not at all difficult; by making the two bases, it will be very easy to assemble and serve it as a dessert on a special day! How to resist this dessert composed, in our case, of layers of sponge cake soaked with alchermes on which a chocolate and custard cream alternates with vanilla! If you have all the necessary ingredients, we are ready to start cooking the English soup!
Ingredients (for a sponge cake):
- Eggs (about 2 medium ones)
- Flour 3 tbsp
- Potato starch 1 oz
- Sugar ¼ cup
- A pinch of salt
- ½ vanilla bean
For the cream:
- Whole milk 1 cups + ½ cup
- Fresh liquid cream ¼ cup + 2 tbsp
- Yolks (about 4 medium eggs)
- Corn starch ¼ cup + 2 tbsp
- Sugar ½ cup + 2 tbsp
- Vanilla bean 1
- Dark chocolate ¼ cup
- Alchermes ¼ cup + 3 tbsp
- Bitter cocoa powder to taste
Preparation of the Sponge Cake
To prepare the English soup, start by making the sponge cake. In a bowl, pour the eggs at room temperature and whip them while pouring the sugar little by little. Work for about 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes clear and frothy. Then use a colander and pour the flour and the starch inside.
Blend the powders by making gentle movements from the bottom upwards and making sure that there are no residues on the bottom of the bowl. Pour the dough into a mold that was previously greased and floured. Level the surface and cook in a preheated oven, in static mode at 320F for about 40 minutes, placing the dripping pan on the lowest shelf (not in contact with the base).
Preparation of the Pastry Cream and Composition
In the meantime, take care of the custard. Pour milk and cream in a saucepan, extract the vanilla seeds, keeping them aside, and pour the mixture into the pan. Warm it up and let it boil. Meanwhile, pour the vanilla pulp over the yolks, add the sugar, beat it quickly, and then sift the corn starch. Mix, and at this point, milk and cream should be warm, then discard the pod and pour a couple of ladles into the egg mixture to dilute it. Then pour it into the pan and mix with a whisk while cooking for a few minutes. As soon as the cream thickens, you can turn off the flame.
Divide the cream into two bowls, and in one of them pour the chocolate. Take advantage of the fact that it is still very hot to help you melt it, then cover both creams with the plastic wrap and let them cool.
Collect the ready and cooled sponge cake, cut it into vertical slices, then trim them so that the pieces can enter into 4 not-so-big glasses. Soak the sponge cake, but not too much, in the alchermes, and proceed by pouring a little chocolate cream first and then the classic one. Evenly distribute everything and then start again with the layers of sponge cake, and the two creams. Level the surface with a spatula and repeat for all the other glasses. In the end, put them in the refrigerator to harden for at least a couple of hours. Sprinkle your glasses of English soup with bitter cocoa before serving and enjoy your meal!
The English soup can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, longer if not sprinkled with bitter cocoa. If you prefer, you can also freeze the single portions.
Sponge cakes and pastry creams can be prepared in advance and stored according to the respective indications in the relative recipe cards.
Instead of the sponge cake, you can make your English soup using biscuit dough.
You can also make the layered English soup in a baking dish, to be served like a tiramisu.
To make your dessert truly spectacular, garnish each cup with Italian meringue.
English Soup Curiosities
English soup is a soft spoon dessert made up of layers of custard and cocoa, interspersed with sponge cake (or delicate sponge fingers) soaked in alchermes. According to the most accredited historians, the English soup would have its origins in the Renaissance. More precisely, around 1500, when an Italian diplomat, returning from London, asked the cooks of the court of the Dukes of Este to prepare a trifle, a typical English dessert tasted and very appreciated by him. In an attempt to reproduce it, the chefs created an "Italianized version" of the English trifle, replacing some ingredients to make this dessert richer and more refined. The sponge cake replaced the English dough, the custard replaced the cream and, over time, very colorful ingredients were introduced to make the preparation lively: the alchermes, a fragrant liqueur with a bright red color in which the sponge cake and cocoa are soaked, which served to create the contrast with the custard. Around 1800, therefore, the English soup made its appearance in other places, prepared with the recipe that we all know today.