Miascia (Bread, grape and rosemary cake from Lake Como)

Miascia (mee-AH-sha) is a bread cake typically found in the lovely villages dotting Lake Como. It is an impromptu cake, made with cheap ingredients: stale bread, milk, some fruit, fresh or dried, polenta flour, sugar, a little chopped rosemary to give an elusive perfume. Nothing fancy and yet the final result is truly delicious. The bread is soaked in milk and then fruit is added, with very little flour to bind. This creates a lovely custardy texture that contrasts well with the crunchy topping.
It is an autumn cake with apples, pears and black grapes being favourite ingredients. Instead of grapes, soaked sultanas can be used, but I think they deliver a duller result – it is a real pleasure to bite into the sour-sweetness of the fresh grapes. It is excellent warm and at room temperature. There are many variations of this recipe.This one in particular comes from a favorite Italian food blog, whose traditional recipes are always real winners. Miascia is not supposed to be a towering affair; it is a quite flat and not much to look at sort of cake – as with many Italian dishes, it is the flavour that really stands out.

La miascia di Eugenia/Eugenia’s miascia
adapted from La belle Auberge
a  20 x 20 cm square tin, well buttered and covered with dry breadcrumbs. Wrap some foil around it, lest some batter escape during baking.

stale bread, 300 g, cubed
full fat milk, roughly 750 ml, heated
2 eggs, well beaten with 1 teasoon vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon
a pinch of salt
three apples and three pears, peeled or unpeeled, thinly sliced
a generous handful of black grapes (or sultanas soaked in warm water)
sugar, 100 g
plain flour, 3 tablespoons
fine polenta flour, 1 tablespoon

Topping:
1 small sprig of rosemary, chopped,
a couple of tablespoons of nib sugar (also known as pearl sugar)
one tablespoon of dry breadcrumbs
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
50g butter, in slivers

Soak the bread in the hot milk. When it has completely absorbed it and it has turned into a pap, use your hands to squeeze it and mash it up ever further: it must become rather smooth. You can also pass the lot through the disk of a mouli-legumes.
Add the eggs and all the other ingredients, minus the topping. Mix well and pour into the tin.
Dust the top with the breadcrumbs, the rosemary, the nib sugar. Criss-cross with the oil and cover with the butter.
Bake for roughly 70 minutes at 180°

4 thoughts on “Miascia (Bread, grape and rosemary cake from Lake Como)

  1. Just a few days ago, Stefano, I made my family’s spianata with rosemary but used grapes and a dusting of sugar in place of the onions and garlic. I made one a few years ago during a visit to Michigan. Had I seen this recipe, I may very well have put aside my plans. Love the idea of using not just grapes but apples and pears as well. This bread really is a salute to the fall harvest and I bet it’s delicious! Thanks for sharing.

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