Festive Italian Cake

Serves 10-12

  • 6 free-range large eggs 
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g cake flour


  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • finely-grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml cream
  •  vanilla bean, split lengthways


  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g icing sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 100ml strong black coffee


  • 90ml rum
  • 300ml double cream
  • a few drops vanilla essence
  • 1 packet hazelnuts, toasted & roughly chopped
  • seasonal fruit & flowers, to decorate
  • Optional: Pashmak fairy floss

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease and line a deep 23cm round cake tin and dust with flour.

2. FOR THE CAKE: Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy.

3. Gently sift in the flour a little at a time and fold in. Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 35-40 min, until risen and golden.

4. Turn out and cool on a wire rack. Once cool, cut into 3 even layers.

5. FOR THE CUSTARD:In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, egg, lemon zest and vanilla essence.

6. Gently heat the milk and cream in a saucepan with the vanilla bean, but do not allow it to boil.

Gradually pour the hot milk and cream into the egg and flour mixture. Return to the saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens.

7. Remove from the heat and place a piece of parchment paper over the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool.

8. TO MAKE THE BUTTER CREAM: In a bowl, beat together the butter and the icing sugar.

9. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the remaining tbsp of icing sugar. Add the egg and sugar mixture to the butter mixture. Using a beater, very gently add the coffee (the mixture can separate if this is beaten too vigorously) and mix until thick and creamy.

10. TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Spoon the coffee butter cream on the bottom cake layer. Pour the rum over the middle layer and then spoon the custard on top. The top layer will be decorated last, with the cream and fruit. Sandwich the layers together.

11. Whip the cream and vanilla essence until it just holds its shape, then use to cover the top. Decorate with nuts, fresh fruit or flowers if desired. Chill before serving, and decorate with fairy floss at the last minute.

sparkling wine complements this dish.

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Recipe Diane Heierli • Photography C&D Heierli