We make everything in our Sfoglia Cake in house.
Sfoglia refers to the pastry used in Italian dessert making. Because of its wide-ranging meaning, sfoglia can be used to describe the famous Lobster tail desserts, stuffed sfoglia shells, even the traditional mille-feuille (Napolean) can be called sfoglia in Italy. Think anything with layers and puff pastry, and you wouldn’t be wrong saying sfoglia or sfogliatella which translates as leaf or leaves. That’s where our sfoglia cake comes in. We take the best techniques of these desserts and turn them into a beautiful, colourful and eye-catching cake that makes any special occasion more memorable and adds a touch of authenticity to the party.
Our sfoglia cake is a combination of baked puff pastry sheets layered with a light Italian dessert cream, then surrounded with pate a choux cream puffs along with strawberries and chocolate drizzle. It really is one of those cakes that the entire family (or group) will light up when they see it, and genuinely enjoy the delicate taste and light flavours of chantilly cream, countered with flaky, toasted puff pastry.
We make our own fresh puff pastry for use in the entire store, so we have to make a lot every batch. This could mean 2 to 3 batches every week. Our puff pastry is a basic pastry dough layered with butter in between. We spread this layer out gently keeping the fat intact, and then fold over twice and let that set for a few hours. This allows the gluten in the flour to rest while firming up the butter.
When properly rested we gently roll out the pastry, only to be tri-folded and sent right back into the fridge to rest a for a few hours. This last step is repeated two more times over a full day, When complete, we have puff pastry, but because our batch is so large, it will be divided into more workable portions, destined for different uses.
For sfolgia cake, a sheet of puff pastry is rolled out onto a full baking sheet in between layers of parchment paper. Another baking sheet rests on top of the paper covered puff pastry to keep it from rising during baking. This may seem odd since puff pastry is made to do precisely the opposite – rise during baking. However, with sfolglia cake, we are going for flaky and flat, rather, than flaky and airy. This weighing down prevents the puff pastry from allowing too much air between the layers. The result is a wafer-like pastry that has a mild nutty and sweet flavour. That sheet of cooked puff pastry is then chilled and cut to fit any particular size of cakes – and we have several available.
The main filling between the puff pastry layers is something we call “Italian Cream,” which is basically cream, milk, organic sugar, and vanilla extract. This is also called Chantilly cream a term more familiar to pastry chefs in other parts of the globe.
Cream Puffs made with Choux Pastry
The beautiful cream puffs that decorate the outside of the sfoglia cakes are made from a different pastry called Choux Pastry, which is a French technique combining butter, water, flour and eggs to form different pastry shapes that are full of airy pockets when they come out of the oven. Once cooled, our ball-shaped pastry is injected with a pastry bag full of Italian cream by pushing the tip through the bottom of the dome. A quick squeeze will fill it up, and these are now ready for decorating the cake.
Assembly of the Sfoglia Cake
This is now a matter of mere assembly using three layers of the puff pastry and Italian cream to build the height of the cake. First, the pastry sheet, then dollops of the Italian cream spread even to keep the cake level. Two more layers and then with some Chef skills the outside of the cake is smoothed out with more of the cream mixture to create a very smooth outer exterior coated with a light layer.
Decorating the Sfoglia Cake
As the outside of the cake is now coated with cream, the pastry artist will start adding the cream puffs to the outside rim. Without leaving any gaps, the filled cream puffs (profiteroles) ultimately build up the outer walls entirely and become the famous exterior decoration that makes sfoglia cake so distinctive. To finish the cake decorating can vary with some bakeries, but traditionally whole or sliced strawberries finished with whip cream and a chocolate drizzle. Variations could include strawberry glaze, Nutella, or perhaps even caramel.
Slicing and Eating Sfolgia Cake
The sfoglia cake may not be as easy to slice as a chocolate cake, for example, but it’s not difficult either. Make sure you have a hot, sharp knife that can be wiped clean between slices. The only tricky part in the slicing is getting through the pastry layers, as they are naturally crumbly. Swift action and a clean blade will undoubtedly help that along.
Each piece should be accompanied by at least one of the cream puffs too, as that what makes the cake fun – especially for kids. Sfoglia is a light tasting pastry, so eating this cake goes well with a coffee or tea, and your guests will not feel bloated from overeating.