Schiacciata alla Fiorentina (Italian Sponge Cake)
This has been a year of cakes for Stacey Snacks.
I used to claim that I didn't like to bake.
My how things have changed.
I found that I LOVE to bake! It's like therapy.
It is relaxing and calming, and I no longer believe that baking is a science, you can improvise (not too much, but some) and change ingredients.
Use your instincts (if they are good!).
I have done very well with substituting 1/2 cup of almond flour for regular flour; I have tried using different sugars and swapping or adding in nuts or fruits; all with very good results.
Here is one last cake for the year.
This one is a good one.
I was definitely Italian in another life.
My Italian is better than my French, the language just seems natural to me.
I love Italian food more than any other cuisine, and Italian pastries make me quiver.
I am crazy for pasta, and recipes from the North are my favorite.
Then what took me so long to make this simple Italian sponge cake called "Schiacciata alla Fiorentina"?
It is a sponge cake made during the fall months for the grape or olive harvests in the North....and all the proper Tuscan chefs use olive oil from Tuscany in this recipe (I cheated and used Sicilian olive oil! shhhhhh!).
I cut out a fleur de lis (which is customary decoration for this cake) from a stencil I downloaded online, and I managed to screw it up while dusting my cake w/ powdered sugar.
So.....I "made it nice" and repaired it by making an indentation with my squirrel cookie cutter. Ok. All fixed.
This is moist and fragrant from the orange zest. We loved it.
I drizzled those wonderful Amarena cherries over it with some syrup to make this a dinner party worthy dessert.
I will put it in the rotation.
Schiacciata alla Fiorentina (adapted from 196 Flavors):
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 large organic orange + zest, at room temperature
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped (or 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract)
confectioner's sugar for the top
Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla.
Add orange zest and olive oil, and continue beating, at low speed (I did this all by hand).
Add in the milk and orange juice and beat for another minute.
Mix the baking powder and flour, and gradually incorporate them with a spatula, adding one spoon at a time and making sure they are entirely absorbed before adding the next spoon.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Butter and flour the bottom and all the sides of a 10×8 inch pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check if the cake is baked by inserting a toothpick.
Unmold and let the cake cool on a wire rack.
Sprinkle icing sugar over the entire surface. Create a fleur-de-lis stencil, put it on the cake and sprinkle cocoa powder (or do your own thing like I did!).
Gently lift the stencil so that no cocoa powder spills onto the icing sugar (yeah, good luck with that).
Cut into squares and serve.
I hope you have a happy, healthy and SWEET new year!