Discovering the secrets of the Paradiso cake: where it was born and how it is made. From the friars of the Certosa di Pavia to the Vigoni pastry shop, which swears they invented it. Here is the perfect recipe
There Paradise cake is a symbol of the city of Pavia, so much so that it entered the list of PAT (traditional Italian agri-food products). The ingredients are simple, the story, as always, controversial. But the Vigoni pastry shop that has been selling and preparing it since the nineteenth century promises to have the original recipe. Butter, eggs, flour, starch and sugar. But he revealed to us his secrets and critical passages to make us write the vademecum of the perfect Paradiso cake.
In the footsteps of the inventor
If you are looking for news about the birth of the Paradiso cake, you will come to a crossroads. On the one hand, a herbalist monk from the Certosa di Pavia, who prepares this cake centuries ago and serves it to his brothers, making them fly to heaven for the goodness and lightness of this dessert. This is legend. The other story is that of Enrico Vigoni, owner and founder in 1878 of the Vigoni pastry shop in Pavia: he will patent it, making it a typical dessert of the city, so much so that it is also called by the synonym of Tùrta Vigon.
Are the Paradiso cake and the Margherita cake the same thing?
Both cakes are soft and are well suited to accompany breakfast, afternoon tea or, more simply, a snack. What is the difference between the two cakes? It all depends on how you start cooking it, you can start by beating butter and sugar (in the case of the Paradiso cake) or by beating the eggs with sugar (in the case of the Margherita cake). Both have no yeast, but remain so soft and light and are served with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar.
Fundamental steps for the success of the Paradiso cake
The Paradiso cake is in fact a "four quarters", a classic French dessert that takes its name from the proportions between the ingredients, which provide the same amount of sugar, butter, flour, eggs.
250 g butter
250 g granulated sugar
250 g whole eggs (4 medium eggs)
125 g flour 00
125 g potato starch
1 vanilla bean
The grated rind of an untreated lemon
1 pinch of salt (5 g)
Procedure and small tricks
We start with the butter at room temperature to allow the whipped dough to grow at its best. Clarified butter (as the master Iginio Massari uses) or not? Mrs Pinella from the Vigoni pastry shop kindly helped us and confirmed that they use normal butter.
The sugar and flavorings must be added to the butter and then started to whisk the dough in the mixer until a white and velvety consistency is obtained that is somewhat reminiscent of whipped cream. The real secret for rising masses like this, or sponge cake, is all in the movement of the whips that incorporate air, swelling the dough before cooking and thus making the use of yeast unnecessary. Many use powdered sugar (not vanilla) but in the original recipe the sugar is granulated. As aromas, the pastry chefs of Vigoni use vanilla and lemon peel.
How to add eggs
Even the eggs should be used at room temperature, to respect the original Pavese recipe, whole eggs will be used. Lightly beaten and then added to the dough a little at a time, they must be incorporated slowly without causing the dough to lose frothiness.
One more step and then in the oven
At this point we must add the "flours" to the dough. 00 flour and starch in equal proportions, well sieved and added as for eggs a little at a time, incorporating the marisa with large movements. A pinch of salt and that's it. We asked Mrs. Pinella if there is yeast or not. His answer is a sharp no, to which he adds shortly thereafter that they put "a leavening agent" which is not yeast. Their secret must rightly be kept. Now you can pour the dough into a buttered pan, filling it for ¾ and bake at 180 ° static for 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick that it is well cooked and let it cool on a grill, before sprinkling it with a heavy snowfall of powdered sugar.
All that remains is to prepare a good tea or heat a cup of milk. Take a seat in a nice armchair watching the yellow leaves from the window or on the terrace with a wool cover and enjoy a slice of paradise.
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