I love to cook. Isn’t that obvious? I have a cooking blog, so therefore I love to cook, right? This means I have an overabundance of cooking magazines in my house, recipe clippings I’ve snuck out of magazines from doctor offices and a vast collection of cookbooks to turn to.
And then there are my fellow bloggers online, cable tv and just plain Google search. Your head can spin with the recipe choices out there.
I am also a creature of habit. If there is a chef, cookbook or blogger who continuously provides me with home-run recipes, then I tend to return to them for future recipes and inspiration. Which takes me to one of my most prized possessions in my cookbook collection: Sophia Loren’s Recipes & Memories
I bought this cookbook over 10 years ago. It was first published in 1998. Ms. Loren taught me how to cook Italian food. She also made me look good to my new husband and his family when they came over to dinner during those early years of marriage.
The food pictures in her cookbook made my mouth water. Her stories about her friends and family made me smile. Ms. Loren’s pictures made me jealous! And her classic Italian recipes are each home-runs. I know. I’ve made almost every single recipe in her book.
One of my favorite recipes is Sophia Loren’s Vanilla Pastry Cream. I’ve made this recipe numerous of times. I’ve kept it simple and served it with fresh berries.
And it’s equally delicious with her Simple Sponge Cake or even a pound cake, whether homemade or store-bought.
And, it’s even better right out of the bowl, with a finger or spoon!
- Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- Italian Sponge Cake
- 6 eggs, large
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- For the Pastry Cream: In a saucepan over medium-high heat warm milk to just before the boiling point.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
- In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow.
- Whisk in all-purpose flour.
- Continue whisking and slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Do this a little at a time, so as not to curdle the eggs.
Pour mixture back into the saucepan and slowly bring it close to the boiling point, stirring constantly. Do not let it boil or the eggs will curdle and you will have a lumpy sauce.
- When pudding has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool 10 mins.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming and cool to room temperature.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until ready to serve.
- For the Sponge Cake: Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Separate eggs, putting yolks and whites into separate bowls.
- Apply non-stick spray or butter and flour to one 10-inch cake pan.
- In the bowl with the egg yolks, use a hand blender or stand mixer with a whisk attachment and beat in sugar with yolks until pale in color.
- Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
- Wash your whisk and beat egg whites with the hand blender or stand mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, turning it over from the bottom to the top.
- Continuing to fold, sprinkle flour over the mixture. When the flour is incorporated into the batter, pour batter into prepare cake pan.
- Bake until cake is golden about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool for 15 minutes.
- Turn the cake out from the pan and let it cool completely on the rack.
- Serve with chilled pastry cream and/or fresh fruit.