Yesterday I came back to England after a few weeks in Italy. When I am over there I am quite busy with the family and I have less time for blogging although I still manage to post some recipes anyway. Besides, how could I keep away from cooking? I get so much inspiration in Italy. Often if we eat out and I spot or try a dish that takes my fancy, I try to recreate it at home. Often it works. They say you eat with your eyes first and that is certainly true.
My children who are bilingual can practice the language and take a full immersion into the Italian culture. Since they were born I have only been speaking Italian to them and we behave very much like an Italian family having dinners altogether and eating the same foods. It is incredible how children can get accustomed to eating nice food, crave for it and after a while can begin to recognize junk or cheap empty foods. This is so much in contrast with the idea that children cannot appreciate so called "grown up foods".
This cake that I made just after Easter has the consistency of a panettone; it is a soft, perfumed and fragrant cake. I have added lemon and orange zest and a touch of vanilla essence. You could also add a drop of liquor if you like.
You need to be patient here as the dough needs resting time. The more times you raise it the softer the cake will be.
I have to say it was well worth the effort, this was delicious and it kept for a few days in a plastic container.
- Prep Time : 40 minutes
- Cook Time : 40 minutes
- flour - 600 g - 6 cups
- eggs - 4
- sachets of dried yeast - 2 x 7 g - 0.5 oz
- sugar - 160 g - 1 + 1/2 cups
- vanilla essence - 1 tsp
- lemon zest - of 1 lemon
- orange zest - of 1 orange
- raisins - 170 g - 1 cup
- warm water - 100 ml - 3 ½ fluid oz
- salt - pinch
- butter - 80 g - 1/3 cup - 3 oz
- For the topping:
- whole almonds - a couple of handfuls to decorate
- egg - 1
- milk - as needed
- almond meal - 60 g - 1/2 cup - 2 oz
- confectionery (icing) sugar - 50 g - 3/8 cup - 1.8 oz
In a bowl melt the yeast with the warm water, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of flour. Mix well and let it rest covered by a cloth for 20 minutes.
Add the remaining flour, the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence, raisins, salt, orange and lemon zest. Add the melted butter and work energetically with your hands (or with a mixer) for 10 minutes making a smooth ball.
Put the ball in a bowl, cover it with the cloth and let it rest for a couple of hours in a warm place. it should double in weight.
After this time work it again energetically for a few minutes then divide it into 3 long rolls and make a plait. If you prefer you could also give it just a round shape instead.
Link both ends of the plait making a circle. Let it rest over a baking tray covered with parchment paper for another couple of hours covered with the cloth.
Make the topping. On a plate whisk the egg with the almond meal, the powdered sugar and enough milk to make a smooth and creamy texture then brush it gently on the cake.
Put a few whole almonds on top of the cake pressing gently. Cook at 200C or 390 F for about 40 minutes.
Absolutely wonderful and fragrant. This is the best soft raising cake I have ever made. Well worth the effort.