The true story of the zuppa inglese

Why zuppa inglese is called so if it is born in Modena?

It is one of the desserts most appreciated by Italians, at least in central and northern Italy, with the cream and chocolate filling, in layers of ladyfingers and then covered with alchermes. The zuppa inglese is common in the restaurants of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Marche and Umbria, and varies according to the territory in his recipe, but what is the original recipe and in which city was born? To dispute the supremacy of zuppa inglese are the towns of Emilia Romagna and, in fact, in these places has spread since the eighteenth century.

Trifle, the ancestor of zuppa inglese.



To make the source of zuppa inglese mysterious, it is the lack of official documents and so the historians had hypothesize the places of origin by analyzing the history of various cities, focusing on the adjective “British”. In fact, many wonder why a sweet born in our region is not called Modena soup or Ferrara soup. The most likely hypothesis is that the adjective which then determines the food the Emiliani they’ve got, in fact in England in Elizabethan era, had spread the Trifle, that is a sweet with soft yeast dough, soaked with sweet wine , enriched with bits of fruit or berries, and covered with custard cream and whipped cream or cream (double cream).

How the trifle arrived in Italy?

The most controversial point is just this, ie when and how did the trifle arrived in Italy. For some historians, the arrival in the peninsula would take place during the Renaissance, in fact England had frequent contacts with the House of Este and in support of this theory would be just the liquor used. In fact the Alchermes and the Rosolio are both from the late Middle Ages, especially the first one is of the time of Marco Polo, when were reopened the trade routes with Arabs, because the color red was given by an imported product, called concciniglia.

Why is widely used only in ‘700? The alternative theory.

zuppa inglese

zuppa inglese

Arguing that the arrival of the trifle in Italy occurred in 1500 with the House of Este is not explained why the trifle has spread in Italy only from the late seventeenth century. Just this inconsistency has given rise to a second theory: the most important diplomatic relationship between England and the Este, look at the case, did not happen in 1500 but at the beginning of ‘700. In fact at that time Maria d’ Este, daughter of Alfonso IV d’ Este, married the King James II of England, becoming Queen of England. According to legend, she, arrived in the country across the Channel, falled in love with a trifle for aristocrats and then, returned home, asked his cook to reproduce. But he had only local products and with those transformed the Trifle in “Zuppa Inglese”. If this theory would be accredited, trifle would be born in the capital of the Este Duchy, that in the seventeenth century was just Modena.




400 g of sponge cake or ladyfingers
1 liter of milk
200 g of sugar
8 egg yolks
100 g unsweetened cocoa
60 grams of flour or 40 g of starch
1 lemon

zuppa inglese_ok
Mix 4 egg yolks with half of the sugar and flour, add half a liter of milk flavored with lemon zest and bring everything to a boil, stirring. With sugar, flour, milk, eggs remained replicated the process by adding cocoa to obtain this time the pastry cream with chocolate. in a container form a layer of sponge cake soaked with alchermes and cover with the first pastry cream. Now roll out a second layer of sponge cake soaked with alchermes and cover with the second cream,that with the cocoa. Proceed until all ingredients are used. The Zuppa inglese that you got before being served should be placed in the refrigerator for at least half a day.

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