Paduan layered cake

This layered cake – known as ‘Pazientina’ - is a typical cake from Padua, a layer cake composed of ‘Brescia cake’ and another layer of ‘polentina di Citadella’ alternating with two layers of a custardy cream. The cake is usually served glazed with dark chocolate and decorated with ribbons of chocolate or chopped almonds. The use of the ‘polentina di Citadella’ in making the cake is interesting: this is an ancient sponge cake, typical of the town Citadella and the surrounding area. The name of this cake refers to the use of maize flour in one of its variants. The birth of the Pazientina cake dates from 1600 and there are two legends: the first tells of the tradition of offering convalescents a slice of this cake as a tonic, because of its hearty and rich ingredients; the second, which suggests the name of the dessert, is linked to the patience necessary for its laborious and complex preparation. There is indeed a long preparation time, but those who make the effort will be repaid by the sublime excellence of the result. In September 2000, in Prato della Valle, the largest Pazientina cake ever was made, and entered the Guinness Book of Records.

Ingredients

  • eggs 4 units
  • sugar 120 grams
  • potato starch 60 grams
  • Italian 00 flour 30 grams
  • polenta 30 grams
  • dark chocolate To garnish
  • alchermes For soaking

Dough

  • sugar 150 grams
  • butter 150 grams
  • plain flour 100 grams
  • almonds 100 grams Sweet
  • almonds 50 grams Bitter
  • egg white 3 egg whites
  • salt

Stuffing

  • egg yolks 5 egg yolks
  • sugar 300 grams
  • marsala wine 50 ml of Marsala
  • plain flour 80 grams
Information
60 minutes Total time
65 minutes Active time
Serves 8 persons
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Preparation

Prepare the ingredients for the layered cake: 4 eggs, salt, 60g of potato starch, 30 g of flour, 30 g of corn flour, baking powder. Beat the egg whites until stiff. In a clean bowl beat the egg yolks with the sugar, then sift in the potato flour, wheat flour and cornflour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the egg and sugar mixture gently. Grease and flour a 22cm springform cake tin and pour in the mixture. Bake in oven at 180 °C for about 30 minutes. Let it cool and tip the cake out. Cut into 3 thin slices, you will need only one. Now for the preparation of the ‘Bresciana’ base. Get all the ingredients: 3 eggs (you need only the egg whites), flour, sweet and bitter chopped almonds, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat the sugar with the butter, add the flour, a pinch of salt and the ground almonds. Fold in the egg whites and transfer to a springform pan (which you previously used for the polenta), again buttered and lightly floured. Spread the mixture in a thin layer and cook at 180 °C for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Now for the preparation of the ‘crema’: 5 egg yolks, sugar, flour and Marsala. In a saucepan, mix the egg yolks and sugar well. Pour this mixture into the sifted flour and mix well to avoid lumps. Mix in the Marsala slowly, stirring as you pour the wine in a thin trickle. You must obtain a homogeneous mixture without lumps, so cook on the stove slowly, stirring constantly, until the ‘crema’ thickens. Transfer the ‘crema’ into a bowl and let it cool. Assemble the cake: spread half the ‘crema’ onto one slice of the ‘Bresciana’ almond cake, cover this slice with the ‘polenta de Citadela’, sprinkled with curaçao or alchermes or another sweet liqueur. Glaze with the other half of the cream. Let it stand in a cool place. Smooth the surface well, then glaze with melted dark chocolate

Tips
To beat the egg whites until properly stiff, the bowl in which they are beaten should be perfectly clean. Then, in making the ‘polentina’, the egg yolks must be beaten for a long time until when you raise the whisk the beaten eggs hold their shape for a little time above the surface before sinking back down.
Trivia
The ‘Pazientina’ is a typical dessert of the city of Padua: it seems that, originally, it was prepared in the monasteries of the area. The name is probably due to the patience it takes to prepare the different parts and assemble them.

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