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Italy in Small Bites
by Carol Fields
HarperCollins, 2004


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Chapter Excerpt

Ciambella

Walnut and Raisin Coffee Cake

Serves 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup raisins
6 tablespoons Marsala or rum
10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (300 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon walnuts or blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Instructions

This sublime coffee cake, spiked with a little Marsala or rum, is real comfort food. It is even more delicious accompanied by a glass of wine.

Soak the raisins in the Marsala or rum for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cream the butter and sugar together well. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, incorporating each one well before adding the next. Mix together the milk, reserved Marsala or rum, and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Using a rubber spatula, beat the milk mixture into the butter mixture in three additions alternating with the dry ingredients.

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. With the rubber spatula, stir one quarter of them into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest along with the nuts and raisins.

Turn the batter into a buttered and lightly floured angel food pan or ring mold, sprinkle the top with the turbinado sugar, and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean. If you prefer to use a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan, bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack, and cool to room temperature.

VARIATION

Ciambella al Anice Use 1 tablespoon anise seeds instead of the raisins and nuts. Substitute Sambuca for the Marsala or rum, or omit it altogether and increase the milk to 1/2 cup.


Calzone al Formaggio Fresco

Calzone Filled with Mozzarella

Makes 7 or 8

This folded stuffed pizza is delicious and filling, a neat portable dish that is especially well suited to informal occasions. Since the calzone crust is essentially a plate, you can eat your dish and skip the washing up. Perhaps that's why workers at olive mills in Puglia eat it between shifts as they work at an intense pace, pressing olives to create the pure green oil of the fruit.

Divide the dough into 7 or 8 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll each piece out to forma circle about 1/4 inch thick.

Divide the mozzarella among the circles, mounding it in the center. Set a mashed anchovy on top of each portion, and season judiciously with salt and pepper. Fold the top half of the circle over the filling. Then fold the border over and press the edges together, crimping with your fingertips. Set the calzone on an oiled baking sheet or pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush the tops with olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you are using a baking stone, preheat it in the oven for 30 minutes; sprinkle the stone with cornmeal just before you slide the calzone onto it. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffy and golden brown. Brush the tops with the oil, and serve hot.

VARIATION
Use the Rustici filling (page 139).



Excerpted from Italy in Small Bites by Carol Fields. Copyright © 2004 by Carol Fields. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.









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