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Do you have a sweet tooth and desserts are your passion? Then you absolutely must try this treat that you will only find in Salerno: the cardinal's scazzetta! Discover it with us!

by Roberta Cascone

Every major Italian city has its own typical dessert. Some are very famous, such as Naples' sfogliatella or Catania's cannolo; others are less well known, such as Salerno's typical dessert: the cardinal's scazzetta! Have you ever heard of it? 

The name "scazzetta" is the Neapolitan dialect term for the galero, or red headdress that cardinals received from the Pope in a solemn ceremony on the occasion of their appointment. The cake, a low, circular sponge cake covered with strawberry icing, is precisely reminiscent in shape and color of this hat. The scazzetta was born from the imagination of Mario Pantaleone, who in 1868 founded his own pastry shop in Salerno, which is still active today. It is said that the first scazzetta was produced even in the early 1900s, and that it was Mario's son Alfonso Pantaleone who made it even more popular. It was so successful that in 1994 the Scazzetta trademark was even registered! So what are you waiting for? Follow our recipe and enjoy this sublime dessert!

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Pantaleone Pastry shop's scazzetta. Ph by

How to make the scazzetta

The scazzetta is a sponge cake, filled with custard and strawberries, in which the strong flavor of rum and the delicacy of strawberries are mixed, forming a truly unique combination! The likes of Clinton and even Pope John Paul II have passed by Pantaleone's pastry shop to taste it! So, are you ready? Here is the recipe for you!

  • List of ingredients

For the sponge cake:
- 6 eggs

- 150 g sugar

- 300 gr 00 flour

- 1 sachet of baking powder

For the filling:

- 4 yolks

- 100 g sugar

- 100 gr flour

- 500 ml milk

- 1 vanilla stick

- 200 ml of cream

- 400 gr strawberries or wild strawberries

Ingredients for the syrup:

- 300 ml water

- 2 tablespoons sugar

- 1 small cup of limoncello


Ingredients for the icing:

- 500 g strawberries

- 250 g sugar

- 15 gr gelatin leaves

- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

- wild strawberries

- mint


  • Method

Start with the sponge cake
Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Beat the egg whites until stiff. 
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 6 tablespoons of boiling water. Add sugar and beat with electric whips until frothy. Gradually add the flour and baking powder, then incorporate the egg whites into the mixture, mixing from the bottom up.
Pour the mixture into a 24-cm-diameter cake pan, previously buttered and floured. 
Bake the sponge cake at 170° for 40 minutes, then take it out of the oven, turn it upside down and let it cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Soften the gelatin leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. Remove the stems from the strawberries and wash them. Place them in a bowl with the powdered sugar. Blend them, put them in a saucepan and boil for 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the gelatin leaves, squeezing them first. Stir to dissolve the gelatin and let it cool, then refrigerate.

To prepare the filling you will need custard. Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise and put it in a saucepan with the milk. Simmer for 5 minutes over low heat. Separately, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, after which add the sifted flour. Remove the vanilla from the milk and pour the milk little by little into the mixture, stirring constantly. Pour everything into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring to avoid lumps, until the cream becomes thick. Finally, remove it from the heat and let it cool.
Add the whipped cream to the custard and mix well.

Last, prepare the syrup. Boil the water with the sugar, then let it cool and add the liqueur.


Now you have everything ready to assemble the cake! Cut the sponge cake into 3 horizontal disks. Place the base on a plate and wet it with limoncello syrup. Spread half the cream on the base, then top with sliced strawberries. Place the second disc of sponge cake, wet it too, then top it with the other half of the cream and strawberries. 

Close everything with the third disc of sponge cake, wet it, and then leave the cake in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
The last step is to coat the cake with strawberry frosting. Finally decorate the cake with the strawberries and mint leaves as you like.

The cardinal's scazzetta is finally ready to be enjoyed!

The cardinal's scazzetta. Ph by

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  • If you want to taste the original version of the scazzetta you will find it at "Dolceria Pantaleone" on Mercanti Street, right in the center of Salerno!

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