Pazientina: luxury chocolate cake from Padua (recipe)

June 13, 2016 — 11 Comments

pazientina padova



As I said in the last post, the name of this cake, Pazientina or ‘little patience’ possibly derives from the fact that it takes a little while to make. So, as it was my mother’s birthday this weekend, I thought it was an appropriate item to make as her birthday cake.


pazientina padova
























The Pazientina, a traditional cake from Padua, is thought to have originated in one of the city’s monasteries. Surprising, or not, for such a rich and luxurious cake. It seems to be a bit of a dying tradition in Padua at the moment, many pasticcerie opting instead for the less complicated Dolce del Santo, named for Saint Anthony of Padua and popular with pilgrims for that reason.


pazientina padua



The cake was at the centre of a controversy recently when a contestant (from Padua) on a national televised baking competition was criticised for his version of the cake even though he was baking it to the recipe his passticeri father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had passed down to him.


pazientina padua


The version I had in Padua was irregularly covered in modellling chocolate concealing the rich zabaglione cream and two kinds of sponge and I decided to recreate that look and feel for mine. To make it even more luxurious I brushed it with gold powder (optional of course).


pazientina padua


In the end, I discovered that it wasn’t too hard to make and didn’t take that long in a modern kitchen. So, why not have a go yourself. It’s definitely worth the wait.



Serves: 8-10
Preparation time: 30 mins
Baking time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins + 24 hours resting time


For the modelling chocolate:
350g (12 ounces) milk chocolate – 40%
140g (5 ounces) glucose syrup


For the almond sponge base
150g (5 1/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
150g (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
100g (3 1/2 ounces) flour
150g (5 1/4 ounces) ground almonds
3 egg whites


For the Polentina di Cittadella:
2 eggs, separated
60g (4 tablespoons) sugar
30g (2 tablespooons) plain flour
15g (1 tablespoon) maizena
15g (1 tabelspoon) polenta flour
4g (3/4 teaspoon) powdered yeast
a small pinch of salt


For the crema di zabaglione:
5 egg yolks
300g (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
500 ml (2 cups) marsala wine
80g (2 3/4 tablespoons) plain flour


To decorate:
edible gold dust
1 x 26cm by 36 cm (10 inches x 14 inches) silicon swiss roll sheets (1 cm (1/2 inch) deep
20 cm x 4.5 cm (8 inches x 1 1/2 inches) steel pâtisserie ring
pastry brush


Make the modelling chocolate:
  1. Gently melt the chocolate in a glass bowl placed over a pan of gently boiling water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Stir with a spatula until all the chocolate has melted and forms a glossy liquid.
  2. Place the glucose syrup in another bowl and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds until just warm.
  3. Pour the glucose into the chocolate and stir until combined. It will thicken to a soft dough like consistency.
  4. Pour onto a sheet of clingfilm, flatten, and wrap in the clingfilm. Leave at room temperature overnight.
Make the almond sponge base:
  1. Heat the oven to 180° C (355° F).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add the flour and almonds and then carefully combine.
  4. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and then add to the mixture. Stir until combined but don’t worry about keeping the air in the egg whites.
  5. Spread the mixture onto a silicon baking sheet with a thickness of about half a centimetre.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes and then allow to cool before removing from the silicon sheet.
Make the Polentina di Cittadella:
    1. Heat the oven to 180° C (355° F).
  1. Beat the egg yolks together with the sugar until they turn pale.
  2. Sift the flours, yeast and salt into the mixture and stir with a spatula until combined.
  3. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and then gently fold the mixture into the egg whites being sure to keep as much air in as possible.
  4. Spread the mixture onto the silicon baking sheet.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes and then allow to cook before removing from the silicon sheet.
For the crema di zabaglione:
  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together vigorously until light and fluffy.
  2. Whisking all the time, add the marsala little by little until absorbed.
  3. Sift the flour into the mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Transfer the zabaglione to a saucepan and over a gentle heat, bring slowly to the boil, whisking all the time.
  5. When the zabaglione has thickened to the consistency of pastry cream, transfer to a bowl, cover with clingfilm touching the surface and allow to cool completely at room temperature.
To assemble:
  1. Using the patisserie ring, cut a disk of the almond sponge and another disk of the Polentina di Cittadella.
  2. Place the almond sponge in the ring and cover with half the crema di zabaglione.
  3. Place the disk of Polentina di Cittadella on top and then cover with the rest of the zabaglione.
  4. Put in the fridge for about 20 mins.
  5. Meanwhile, warm the modelling chocolate (which will be rock hard) in your hands to soften it and then roll out into irregular shapes using a rolling pin.
  6. Remove the patisserie ring and cover the cake irregularly with the modelling chocolate and then brush with gold dust.

11 responses to Pazientina: luxury chocolate cake from Padua (recipe)


    that looks fantastic. i wish eggs didn’t make me sick, i would be on this in a heartbeat.



    What an interesting recipe, I always learn so much on your blog. This looks great and so unusual (to me at least), especially the yeasty layer, love it. Thanks…


      Luca Marchiori June 13, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      Thank you! I love uncovering all these regional recipes and then, of course, eating them! I wish I could share the taste with you as well.



    Yum! Another winner from Luca! Your mother is fortunate to have a son so devoted…..and such a good cook and baker. Lovely post and photos!

    Liked by 1 person


    I love your willingness to explore all types of cuisine!

    Liked by 1 person

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