Scarpaccia viareggina (sweet and custardy courgette cake from Viareggio, in Tuscany)

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.

It is a Tuscan speciality and you will not find anywhere else in Italy – Continue reading

Frittelle veneziane – Venetian Carnival fritters

 

Frittelle is the generic name for “fritters”, however for most Italians frittelle (pronounced frihttehlleh) is synonymous with Carnival. Frittelle are deep fried pastries, generally made with an enriched bread dough or a choux dough, often containing sultanas, citrus zest and pine nuts. When well made, they are light and hollow inside, not at all doughy. They can be either plain or filled with creme patisserie, which is perhaps gilding the lily. In Venice there is a cult for Carnival fritters, no surprisingly perhaps, considering how deeply felt  Carnival is  up there – it is an important part of the city’s history and cultural identity. Personally, I prefer the other, plainer Carnival pastries, chiacchiere, but I would never say no to a warm frittella (which is the singular for the plural frittellE) Continue reading

Bônet astigiano (Chocolate, amaretti and savoiardi baked caramel custard from the town of Asti, in Piedmont)

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Another splendid recipe from Piemonte: Bônet, which is pronounced

 If you do not trust my Piedmontese accent (and you might be right, actually) check this more authentic https://italianhomecookingdotcodotuk.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/bonet1.m4a voice.
It is a caramel-topped baked custard, generally made with crushed amaretti biscuits (one of the glories of Piedmontese baking), lots of eggs and milk, with or without cocoa/chocolate and/ with or without coffee. It is sumptuous and voluptuous. Continue reading