It is hard to believe that it was 10 years ago that I sent in my first recipe to The Florentine, to Nita and Tony Tucker. They had read my blog and asked me to share my recipes, which I had gathered from local chefs, vendors at Florence’s Central Market and moms. Publishing an English-language newspaper in Florence was such a wonderful idea, and I was happy to participate. Being able to plan your week around the events in Florence was great, as even the Florentines never knew what was going on until they heard about it that day! Since then, the wonderful interviews and information on secret spots to visit have made The Florentine a must in our lives.
To celebrate, I am sharing with you a recipe for a ‘Duomo cake.’ A popular cake, but not traditionally Tuscan, is the olive oil cake from the Contessa Contini-Bonacossi of the Capezzana winery in Carmignano. I first tasted it on a day trip from Florence with food maven Faith Willinger. Then Pamela Sheldon Johns included the recipe in her book on food artisans in Tuscany. Currently a version of the cake is being served in Panzano at the Macelleria Cecchini.
The version I offer here adapts a recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook ‘Tuscanized’ with extra-virgin olive oil and vin santo. (Don’t be afraid: the flavor of the oil is not prominent.)
The recipe makes a fabulous dense pound cake that can stand on its own. If you want, top it with a simple glaze of powdered sugar and citrus juice. With great local chestnut jam between stacked layers, you can even ‘sculpt’ it and top with melted chocolate.
Once you start making this cake, you may never stop celebrating.
Auguri The Florentine!
RECIPE: The Florentine birthday cake
2 cups (400g) of granulated sugar
1 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (250ml) vin santo
2½–3 cups (375–450g) flour
½ tsp salt
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
Zest and juice from 1 lemon or orange
For glaze: mix powdered sugar and citrus juice
Beat the eggs with the sugar until you have a thick batter. Add the vin santo and the extra-virgin olive oil. Mix until it is all blended. Add the salt and baking powder to the flour and mix with a spatula or a spoon until all the flour has been absorbed.
Zest the lemon or the orange and add to the batter and add the juice to taste.
Grease and flour your baking pans. For a sculpted cake, I use small round cake pans and make three layers. Otherwise, you can use a bundt pan, loaf pan or larger round cake pans.
Bake at 175 degrees Celsius until done (a toothpick put into the cake will come out clean). This should take about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the pan.
For a glaze: mix powdered sugar and citrus juice and drizzle on.
To sculpt: let the cake layers rest overnight in the refrigerator, wrapped in saran wrap. Spread jam thinly on top of each layer. Stack the layers and shape by cutting with a serrated knife and re-stacking to create the shape you want.