This is a staple in Romanian desserts, I would say, and almost all housemothers make it, but they might have slightly different recipes and different plating ideas. My mom's was good, and I don't know how come, but she made it most of the times for New Year's Eve parties, or at winter time. My grandma's was always good, and she would make it quickly for Saturday or Sunday lunches, when the whole family would go over to her house for lunch after calling at the last minute the day before. Mom almost always placed fruits on the outside, while grandma would have either fruits or whipped cream all over.
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 25 lady fingers ( I needed 23 for a 9" pan)
one small can mandarin slices, drained
half of a can pineapple chunks, drained
2 cups whipped cream (you could take a shortcut as I did and by the one whipped already, or you could make it yourself)
1 ½ teaspoons gelatin
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
Slowly pour the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture, then put the cream back into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream is very thick, about 5 minutes.
In a small glass bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons water or pineapple juice and let stand until softened. Microwave the gelatin for 5 seconds, or until melted. Whisk the gelatin into the warm pastry cream. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until it is thoroughly chilled.
If you are using whipped cream, fold it in the pastry cream, adding it gradually.
It you are using heavy cream, beat the cream in a bowl until stiff, then add it to the pastry cream.
In a bowl beat the egg yolks and the sugar until light yellow and fluffy, then add slowly the oil and continue mixing. Incorporate the flour without over-beating the batter.
Pour the batter in a 9" pan and bake for about 25 minutes at 350F, until golden yellow and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, after that take teh cake out and let it sit on a cooling rack.
When cooled completely, slice the cake in two.
Place the first half of the cake on the bottom of a 9" spring form pan, then arrange the lady fingers around the pan.
Pour one third of the pastry cream over the cake, then arrange half of the mandarin sections and the pineapple on top of the cream.
Cover the fruits with another third of the pastry cream, followed by the rest of the fruits and finish with the last third of the cream on top of the fruits.
Place the second half of the cake on top of the cream.
I decorated this one with whipped cream, which was runny by the time I used it, because I forgot to put it back in the fridge. I tried to do a spider web using chocolate sauce and had some currants that went on the cake, since I had no other inspiration.
The cake has to stay for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, or overnight, then the cream will be very well set.