Update May 2022: it is that time of the year again – courgette bonanza. Time to make scarpaccia, both as a dessert and as a savoury tart.
It took a leap of faith and my avid curiosity to try this cake: could a basic sweet batter and some grated courgettes make a good cake? No nuts, no sultanas, no spices…really? A resolute “yes!” is the answer.
This is a most unusual and excellent cake come dessert: delicate, plain and light, but not at all boring, with a delicious custardy quality. Burnished golden outside, yellow with specks of green inside, it is also pretty. Scarpaccia means “nasty/old shoe” and no one really knows why such an uninspiring name; it is possibly something to do with the appearance of this dessert: a genuine scarpaccia should be a fairly thin and crusty affair – like an old, over-worn shoe. It is the contrast between the sugary and crusty exterior (due to a good drizzle of olive oil) and the custardy, vanilla scented interior that make this unposessing looking dessert sing.
This is a method for candying citrus peels that works FOR ME. It is not a professional method, it has flaws, it is not “the perfect”, BUT it works for ME (hence that “my”). It delivers the type of candied peels that I like: still juicy and fruity, with a faint bitterness in the background, not overly sweet. The following are to be regarded as working notes, drawn from experience and other cooks’ versions. I do not have any “culinary scientific evidence” for some of the things I say – you decide, if they make sense to you or not.
One of the most classic and classiest desserts of the Italian repertoire, from Piemonte: peaches, stuffed with amaretti biscuits mixed with liqueur, then roasted. I prefer not to include the customary cocoa powder in the filling, because I feel it overpowers the delicate peach flavour, but if you like the idea, just add a tablespoon to the mix. I also prefer to roast the peaches before stuffing them – this makes them creamy tender, the way I like it. Eat it warm. This lovely dessert works well also with the lustreless peaches we often get here in the UK and it is the loveliest farewell to summer.