Ice Cream Cake Italiana (Torta gelato)

I asked my brother what type of cake he wanted me to make for his birthday and he gave me the response: ice cream cake! I had never attempted an ice cream cake before and was not sure what to expect, but I knew I had to take the challenge. Everyone liked it so much that I was requested to make it again 1 week later for my cousin’s birthday! I’m sure I will refine my method over time, but this recipe has worked out really well for me so far.

ice cream cake italiana

You will need a freezer-safe pan to mould your ice cream cake. I used a 12″ x 2″ round metal pan my Nonna gave me, which she brought over from Italy! Keep in mind that you should begin the process at least 2 days in advance of when you need the cake. This recipe requires a lot of waiting time, but very little hands-on time. First you must make the sponge cake (or pan di spagna), chocolate ganache, and strawberry filling, and then assemble the layers of the ice cream cake.

ice cream cake italiana

ICE CREAM CAKE ITALIANA (TORTA GELATO)

Serves: 20 people

INGREDIENTS

  • < 1 cup white whole wheat flour, split
  • 1 package lievito vaniglinato
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • < 2/3 cup maple sugar, split
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream-based liqueur
  • 140 gr. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 140 gr. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 500 gr. strawberries, split
  • 1/4 cup sambuca (or clear liqueur)
  • 1 cup pizzelle, crushed (or other cookie)
  • 3 L ice cream (I used Kawartha ‘Moose Tracks’ which is vanilla ice cream with chocolate fudge and peanut butter cups. A plain vanilla bean ice cream or gelato would also work great.)

METHOD

  1. PAN DI SPAGNA: Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare baking pan by cutting a piece of parchment paper for the bottom and lightly oiling the sides.
    ice cream cake italiana
  2. Mix the lievito (vanilla powder + baking powder mix) with all of the flour. 
  3. In a small bowl, beat 4 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. flour.
  4. In a separate (large) bowl, whisk 4 egg whites, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 tbsp. flour until soft peaks form.
    ice cream cake italiana
  5. Fold the yolk mixture and white mixture together, and spread in baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 F. Check to make sure it does not burn.
    ice cream cake italiana
  6. Let the sponge cake cool in the pan. Do not use it until it is at least at room temperature.
    ice cream cake italiana
  7. CHOCOLATE GANACHE: Combine milk and cream-based liqueur (such as Lady Godiva or Bailey’s) in a small saucepan, and heat on the stove until steaming.
  8. Place both types of chocolate in a small metal bowl. Pour hot milk mixture over the chocolate and stir until well combined. Let the ganache cool in the fridge until it is at least at room temperature.
    ice cream cake italiana
  9. STRAWBERRIES: Wash fresh strawberries. Chop half of them and purée the other half .
  10. Mix both together with the sambuca (or other clear liqueur) and set aside. It is best to let them soak for at least 1 hour so that they absorb the flavour of the liqueur.
    ice cream cake italiana
  11. PREPARING THE CAKE: Line the pan with plastic wrap (this is for easy removal of the ice cream cake later). Carefully cut the pan di spagna in half and place the bottom half in the pan.
    ice cream cake italiana
    ice cream cake italiana
  12. Spread half of the strawberry mixture evenly over the cake layer. Cover with aluminum foil and place in freezer for at least 2 hours.ice cream cake italiana
  13. Remove from freezer and spread half of the chocolate ganache over the strawberries with a spatula. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of crushed cookies and press into ganache. Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.
    ice cream cake italiana
    ice cream cake italiana
  14. Remove from freezer and quickly spread 1.5 L of ice cream over the cookie + ganache layer. My technique is to scoop even portions of ice cream all over the layer, and then press in gently to smooth the surface with my heat-sensitive ice cream scoop.
    ice cream cake italiana
    ice cream cake italiana
  15. Repeat steps 11 to 14 to finish off the layers: cake, strawberries, ganache, cookies, ice cream! It should completely fill your pan.

    ready for the second set of layers

    ready for the second set of layers

  16. Cover and freeze the cake for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  17. Remove the ice cream cake from the pan and place on a serving platter. If desired, melt about 1/4 cup of chopped dark chocolate and drizzle over the top and sides of the cake. It will harden almost instantaneously on the cold ice cream. Cover and return the cake to the freezer until you are ready to serve.

Make sure you remove the cake from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy your ice cream cake! Serve with a shot of espresso– the combination is simply divine!

ice cream cake italiana

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