Thursday, September 15, 2011
I’m always amazed that there are still recipes in Marcella Hazan that I haven’t cooked yet. I thought that over the last 20 years or so I must have cooked, baked or fried just about every recipe in her books. But no. I’m always discovering something new.
Last weekend in Todi I was trying my best to just cook with what we had in the house already. We had loads of fruit and veggies - from our own garden and from my friend Laura’s. My neighbor Marisa had even given us a goose, so we were set in the meat department.
But desert? What to make for a desert? I had eggs from Marisa, and plenty of flour. I could have used the jam from our friend Paolo but....Sophie said no to crostata. She wanted something cakey.
So I turned to Marcella, thinking that I’d find something. And I did.
Pisciotta. Olive oil cake. Perfect.
Except for that name. Pisciotta? Really? I’m not sure where Marcella got this name from, but she says it’s an old recipe from Verona. I did write to her (we are friends on FB!) but haven’t heard back yet.
If you are from Rome, the word ‘pisciotta’ sounds more like something you’d do into a fountain. If you get my meaning. Sophie decided it referred to the long yellow stream of olive oil as you pour it into the bowl. Whatever.
The one ingredient that Marcella’s recipe called for that I didn’t have was lemon zest, which I think would have been perfect. Instead I added hefty doses of ground cinnamon and ginger, which was spicy and kind of festive.
And remember that goose? We actually had it the night before I made the cake, and I had served it with a luscious red wine fig sauce. I got the original recipe here, but added bay leaves, thyme, a good dose of pomegranate molasses and left out the chicken broth. It was fantastic with the goose, sweet and tart, with big chunks of fig working with the slightly gamey meat.
But as always I made way too much. Good thing I did, since as it turns out that warm fig wine sauce works equally well with olive oil cake as it does with goose. (I just added a few more figs and renamed it 'compote.')
But back to the name of the cake. Pisciotta. Marcella, if you’re reading this, could you chime in and solve the mystery?
(adapted from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 + 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine
A 2 1/4-qt.tube pan
Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C
Beat eggs and sugar until until fluffy. Add Marsala and olive oil, and mix well.
Mix together the dry ingredients , and then add to the egg mixture. Stir to combine.
Grease the pan with the olive oil, and add the batter.
Bake in middle of oven for about 45 minutes.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, then loosen with knife and invert onto plate.
I like presenting it with the ‘risen’ side up.
Serve with warm Fig and Wine Compote.
Fig and Wine Compote
(Inspired by Fig Sauce at Corks Outdoors)
12 fresh figs
2 cups red wine (I used a young San Giovese/Merlot )
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 bay leaves
2 springs of fresh thyme
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
Chop figs and place in small pan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to fast boil and let boil until reduced by half.