Friday, November 15, 2013

Torta di Zucca from the Veneto


Oh my. This cake is a good one.

Beautiful, fragrant, moist, special.

This cake is perfect for your Thanksgiving table, and believe it or not, it's light.

Torta di Zucca is really a "pumpkin" cake, however, I am not fan of pumpkin pie (ew), and the recipe says use a Barucca squash (what is that?) or a Butternut squash, so the obvious choice was the latter.

This is another beautiful recipe from the book Cucina Ebraica (the Jewish Cooking of Italy). The recipe is of Sephardic origins from Venice, and is much like that gorgeous Venetian Carrot Cake I made from the same book.

Because I didn't have any plum grappa as the recipe called for, (and who really does?), I soaked my raisins in Manischewitz Grape wine.

Yes, I did. Don't judge.

I had no Port in the house, and no Vin Santo, and Bourbon just didn't go with the squash, so I improvised.
It is only 3 tbsp of wine, so sub in whatever sweet wine you may have.

A quick tip: you can buy butternut squash already cut up, and that will save you a lot of time.
Also, I love candied lemon peel (citron), but if you don't, you can certainly leave it out and still have an amazing cake.

I made some minor changes to the recipe: The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of butter, which I misread, so only used 1 stick (1/2 cup).............even with the mishap, the cake was still SUPER moist and dense.

*Confession: The original recipe calls for separating the eggs, beating the whites, however, the lazy baker did NOT separate the eggs and whip the egg whites (my least favorite chore besides polishing silver).
I added the eggs in whole, one at a time, and again, no big deal, the cake was perfect.


Torta di Zucca from the Veneto: (adapted from Cucina Ebraica)

1 Butternut Squash, about 2 lbs., peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2" pieces (I wound up with about 3.5 cups)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup of raisins, plumped up in 3 tbsp of sweet wine or plum grappa
zest of 2 large lemons
1/3 cup of candied citron, chopped fine (optional)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 eggs, separated

Soak the raisins in 3 tablespoons of wine for about 20 minutes to plump.

In a large heavy skillet, melt the stick of butter and add the diced squash.
Cover and cook on low heat until the squash is softened and mushy.

While the squash is cooking, butter a 9" cake pan (I love springform pans for easy release!), and line with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, add the sugar, ground almonds, plumped raisins, citron and zest. Whisk together.


Add in the cooked squash w/ all the melted butter to the sugar mixture. Once this mixture has cooled a bit, mix in the 3 eggs, one at a time. (*see my confession above about separating the eggs).

In another bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the squash mixture and mix to make a batter.

Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake at 325F for 50-60 minutes.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve.


If you are planning on freezing this cake for Thanksgiving, don't add the powdered sugar until you are going to serve.

Enjoy!


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15 comments:

Content in a Cottage said...

YUM.

Lisa said...

Double yum. I just love that you have all these recipes for things we have an abudance of in the garden. More brocolli and califlower recipe, please. :-)

Natalia B said...

This looks like a great excuse to "eat your vegetables." I like pumpkin, although we generally use pumpkin out of a can, so this is probably much healthier. Can't wait to try this - I'm actually donating baked goods to our church this weekend for a bake sale - so I'm going to make this. Already have all the ingredients at home. Thanks for the great idea Stacey!

Bites from life with the barking lot said...

Looks great. I'll try after I make your ricotta.....love the color and texture

Patsy said...

You are such an irreverent cook, Stacey. I love your sassiness!

Barbara said...

OMG,
I made this cake last night, so I could freeze it for turkey day.

Nope, it never made it to the freezer, the smell was too amazing, we had to try it.
It's half gone, we had it for breakfast this a.m., I omitted the citron, because I didn't have it.

The most perfect, "healthy" cake ever!
Love it, and love you for all your fabulous recipes! You make me look like a good cook!

Barbara

Natalia B said...

Stacey - if I were to make this ahead of Thanksgiving - how do I freeze it? I've never frozen a cake like this - that's why I'm asking. Thanks. :)

Stacey Snacks said...

Natalia,
You freeze like you would any cake.

Wrap it first in plastic wrap or wax paper (make sure it is fully cooled, obviously).........
then wrapt it in foil, then in a zip-loc freezer bag.
Don't put the powdered sugar on it until right before serving.

Take the cake out of the freezer the a.m. that you are going to serve it. It's so easy, and it comes out perfect!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Looks like a winner Stacey. I had to chuckle at all your substitutions, but it still came out great. And i do have plum grappa!2

Funny, the captcha word was "nipsgas"

Eileen said...

Loved this post, Stacey. But what??... you don't like pumpkin pie? This cake sounds wonderful and if I am not able to work it into my Thanksgiving repertoire, I will find another occasion to make it. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Terrah said...

This recipe look super-doable. There's an abundance of pre-cut butternut squash at my store, so I'm going for it. I'm trying this recipe.

Stacey, I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie either. I'll eat it but given my druthers, I'll eat sweet potato pie every time. I'm guessing I could use sweet potatoes or yams with this recipe but I've been dying to try a sweet pastry recipe with butternut squash. So, this is is.

Proud Italian Cook said...

This... sounds... so... good!

Jeff @ Cheese-burger.net said...

This is cake is definitely going to my list for Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Can I use almond meal instead of ground almonds? I can't wait to make this.

Stacey Snacks said...

Anonymous,
Yes, absolutely, use ground almonds (or almond meal). I made it the second time using Trader Joe's almond meal............so easy and so good!

Stacey