The chosen theme for this month’s issue of Italian Table Talk, the lovely project about Italian food and traditions which I proudly share with my friends Giulia, Valeria and Emiko, is no less then Italian breakfast.
How’s breakfast at your place? Mine is a bit complicated.
I’ve always found breakfast somewhat challenging.
When I was a child, my mum had to force me to have a glass of milk before I left for school, milk that I would have regretted ever drinking later, on the school bus, where I felt horribly sick all the time; as for the cookies, I would never, ever give in to eating them: I would only accept to chew – and not too enthusiastically – on homemade cakes: I hated boxed cakes and supermarket snacks, because I felt they tasted weird, artificial, full of alchool and chemical stuff.
When every other kid around was having Nutella on bread, milk and cornflakes, Mulino Bianco cookies, I was sitting there, my arms crossed, looking at the table in open hostility.
Growing up, luckily, I’ve learnt to appreciate what Italian grandmas called “the most important meal of the day”: I’ve grown accustomed to drinking tea and coffee, to eating cookies… I’m more or less a normal person nowadays.
The only thing I can’t stand, even today, is ready made cakes: I still think they taste all wrong and unnatural, dont’ they?
That’s why at my place you’ll always find a nice, homemade cake for breakfast: zebra cake, chocolate cake, classic crostata, a couple of muffins… anything will do, as long as it comes from my oven and not from a plastic bag.
My current favourite breakfast cake – and I say current because my preferences tend to be mutable – is the Margherita cake, or torta Margherita, a very typical Italian cake: it’s soft, nourishing, perfect to be dipped in milk: I can’t think of a better breakfast!
The Margherita cake is very simple and versatile: I make it with flour and potato starch, but it can easily be made gluten free; it tastes good on its own, but is also very nice with a thin spread of jam, just like British Victoria sponge.
If you’ve never tasted it, it’s time for you to get baking.
- 100 g sugar
- 50 g cake flour
- 50 g potato starch
- 40 g butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 big egg + 5 egg yolks
- First of all, preheat the oven to 180°C.
- In a food processor or with electric whisks, beat eggs and sugar together until smooth, light and creamy: it will take some time to reach the desired consistency, more or less 15 mins, so don't give up too early.
- Please don't throw away your leftover egg whites: use them to make some delish meringues.
- Incorporate the dry ingredients, sifted, with a delicate gesture and mix well. In a little pan or in the microwave melt the butter, then pour it over the cake batter and mix.
- Pour into a greased and floured spring-release tin (12 cm diameter) and bake for about 35-40 mins or until golden brown.
- Allow the cake to cool, then gently free it from the tin and flip it onto a serving plate.
- Sprinkle the cake with icing sugar and serve.
Check out more interesting stories about foraging and related delicious recipes visiting my fellow Italian Table Talk bloggers, Giulia, Valeria and Emiko, and join the conversation with the hashtag #ITableTalk on Twitter.