South Philly bakery’s papal pastries

Without fanfare or noteriety, one South Philadelphia bakery had the honor of baking for Pope Francis.

Gus Sarno is a fourth generation owner and baker at Isgro Pastries. It has been family-owned for more than 111 years and calls itself the oldest in the city. Isgro stopped by WHYY for an unrelated book event and brought with him some of the papal pastries he prepared for Pope Francis while he was in town.

Isgro put a lifetime of baking experience to the test for his first professional attempt at dulce de leche. 

“Three or four attempts trying too get it perfect, and not knowing where it should be,” he said. “Not something I ever tasted, so I had to go by what I thought was really good, and this… I hit this right on the head. This was so good.”

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The creme was set but the presentation was still up in the air. Sarno decided on a European sponge cake moistened with Kahlua and Baileys. He finished it with a Swiss meringue butter cream and of course, the papal crest.

A special request he fielded were for s’mores, for the Holy Father, himself. Sarno’s rendition included a graham cracker tart crust, lined with a rich chocolate ganache, a dense, creamy brownie, and homemade, brûléed marshmallows. It was finished with a white chocolate wafer, topped with a hand drawn chocolate cross.

These two desserts traveled with the pope back to Rome aboard Shepherd One.

Listen to the Soundcloud below to hear Gus dish on these delicious and beautiful papal desserts.

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