Zuppa inglese

A recipe by Massimo Bottura, taken from Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef

Sponge cake:

130 g whole egg

24 egg yolks

11 g sugar

90 g ‘00’ flour

24 g potato starch

Preheat the oven to 185°C (365°F). Whisk the eggs with the yolks and sugar. Sift the flour and potato starch and fold them gently into the whisked eggs. Transfer the mixture to a 53 x 32.5-cm (21 x 13-inch), 5 cm (2 inch) deep oven tray or gastronorm 1/1. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove and let cool. Trim off the brown edges and cut into 40 rectangles, 1.5 x 1.5 x 4 cm (⅔ x ⅔ x 1⅔ inches). Place them in a dehydrator at 50°C (122°F) until they are crunchy all the way through.


400 g milk

4 g vanilla pods

2 g lemon zest

100 g egg yolk

70 g sugar

25 g glucose

100 g double (heavy) cream

4 g stabilizer

The day before, mix together the milk, vanilla and lemon zest in a large pan. Heat gently to 30°C (86°F), add the egg yolks, 52 g sugar and glucose, and bring it to 60°C (140°F) degrees, stirring all the time. Add the rest of the sugar, the cream and the stabilizer and continue cooking until it reaches 82°C (180°F). Strain the mixture and let it rest for 12 hours in the fridge. Freeze in a Pacojet container and process just before serving.

Chocolate crème brûlée:

300 g double (heavy) cream

60 g sugar

120 g dark (bittersweet) chocolate, 70% cocoa

72 g egg yolk

12 g cocoa powder

12 g ‘00’ flour

Put the cream in a pan with half the sugar and bring it to a boil. Put the chocolate in a bowl, pour the hot cream on it and whisk to emulsify it. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar, cocoa powder and flour. Incorporate the whisked yolks into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into pyramid-shaped moulds, with a 5 cm (2 inch) square base and sides, and bake in a bain-marie at 140–150°C (284– 302°F) for 40 minutes, keeping the centre of the crème brûlée at 85°C (185°F). Use hot water in the bain-marie, and check the temperature occasionally with a thermometer.

Alchermes gelatine:

50 g Alchermes from Antica Farmacia Santa Maria Novella, Florence

2.5 g sugar

0.5 g agar agar

Put the Alchermes, sugar and 80 g water in

Put the Alchermes, sugar and 80g water in a small pan and heat it through. Add the agar agar before it reaches boiling point and stir well until completely melted. Spread the liquid, still hot, on a smooth, wet surface and let cool at room temperature. It should be 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inches) and 1–2mm (⅛ inch) thick.

Lemon syrup:

5 lemons

600 g sugar

Wash the lemon and cut off the zest, leaving the white part behind. Cut the zest into 1 x 30-mm ( x 1¼-inch) slices and blanch them in boiling water. Put 500 g water in a small pan with the sugar and heat gently. Add the lemon zest and let it reduce over low heat to one third of its original volume. Let cool and store the zest and juice in the fridge.

To serve:

20 g brown sugar

20 g granulated sugar

20 g dark brown muscovado sugar

Place a chocolate crème brûlée in the centre of each plate. Mix the sugars together and sprinkle over the top of the brûlées. Use a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Place the dried sponge cake sticks in the lemon syrup to soften them. Place them on either side of the pyramid and put the gelato between them. Lay the Alchermes gelatine over them both like a tent.


Massimo Bottura: Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef

Osteria Francescana is Italy’s most celebrated restaurant. At Osteria Francescana, chef Massimo Bottura takes inspiration from contemporary art to create highly innovative dishes that play with Italian culinary traditions. It’s an approach that has won him three Michelin stars and the number three place on the World's 50 Best Restaurant list.

Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef is a tribute to Bottura’s twenty-five year career and the evolution of Osteria Francescana. Divided into four chapters, each one dealing with a different period, the book features 50 recipes and accompanying texts explaining Bottura’s inspiration, ingredients and techniques. Illustrated with photography by Stefano Graziani and Carlo Benvenuto, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef is the first book from Bottura - the leading figure in modern Italian gastronomy.