I’m Baking From . . . . . La Cucina Italiana!
Today, I am sharing a recipe from one of my favorite cooking magazines, La Cucina Italiana, “since 1929 Italy’s premiere food and cooking magazine”. While they have an online site, I have subscribed to this periodical for the past year. The recipes are so unique and authentic, and unlike any others I’ve found in various cooking sources.
This torta is no exception! This cake is the beautiful lovechild of two contrasting and opposing ingredients. Stale, old, ordinary white bread and exquisite, quality Belgian chocolate! How can this happen??? While chocolate is the primary flavor here, it doesn’t punch you in the face. But while most chocolate desserts (like brownies or fudge) have you thinking how chocolatey they taste; this dessert has you thinking…..wow! That’s really GOOD chocolate! The flavor was so soft and mellow and refined! This is the first time that I stepped out and upgraded the quality of chocolate I bake with. For the first time I used . . . . .
Callebaut. LOVE IT!!! Purchased at Whole Foods for $10 per pound, it was well worth the investment. In fact, I think I am about to become a chocolate snob! And I’m also sure I’m going to be looking online for other sources of equally good chocolate.
It can be said that baking is not always fast, but it’s always easy. And this recipe is the perfect example of that. It is the prepping that is really easy, but takes a bit of time here. My bread was not stale so I let it sit out on the counter for a day. And then it has to soak in milk for an hour and a half. It bakes for nearly 2 hours at different temperatures! But it really is so simple to make. Here’s what you need . . . . .
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
- 5 tablespoons coarse breadcrumbs (I used the ends of the loaf of bread)
- 10½ ounces stale white bread (about 8 to 10 slices), cut into small pieces
- 4¼ cups whole milk
- 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted, plus more for chocolate shavings
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, separated
- ⅔ cup almond flour
- Confectioners’ sugar
The only place that I strayed from duplicating this recipe is that while the recipe called for you to use a 10 inch springform pan, I used a 9 inch.
Be sure that your bread is stale and let it sit out in advance if necessary. When you are ready to begin prepping this, cut your bread into small cubes and put them into a large bowl. Bring your milk to a simmer, pour it over the bread and let it soak for an hour and a half.
Now, when you are ready to proceed, preheat your oven to 350° F. Butter the springform pan liberally, and then dust with 2 1/2 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs. (I just ground the 2 ends of the stale bread into my food processor!)
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until it is very smooth.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar and egg yolks on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add butter and beat to combine. Add bread mixture, chocolate and almond flour; beat until well combined.
In a separate clean bowl, whisk egg whites and a pinch salt to soft peaks; gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan and dust with remaining 2½ tablespoons breadcrumbs. Bake for 1 hour, then reduce oven temperature to 300° and continue baking until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes more.
Transfer cake to rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. Serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and chocolate shavings. (For the chocolate shavings melt 4 oz of chocolate with 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil in a microwave in 20 second spurts, stirring each time. I poured the chocolate onto a marble tile that I got at my hardware store for a couple of bucks, but I’ve read that the bottom of a cookie sheet works well, too. Spread the chocolate to an even thinness using an offset spatula. I put the tile into the freezer for just a minute or two. And then, starting at the edge, use a spackling knife or a brownie spatula to shave curls of your desired length and width!)
This cake serves 10 and really has a light, moist, delicate flavor and texture!