Simplicity often amazes. In the kitchen it is so: if you use excellent raw materials, few of them treated with care and combined with judgment and experience are enough to create excellent dishes.
Stroscia cake of Pietrabruna (Pietrabruna is a small village, surrounded by olive trees, in the hinterland of Imperia, West Italian Riviera) is the perfect example of this rule. Flour, oil and sugar, mainly. Mixed together, by hands, and put in the oven to complete the magic.
An ancient recipe born in the land of extra-virgin olive oil and that pay tribute to our special.
It is called so from the verb “stosciare” that in Ligurian dialect means to break, to tear. It is in fact a cake so crumbly that is never cut with a knife but is always broken with the hands.
You will muster all your senses when eating this extra-virgin olive oil cake. Your fingers that tear are the first that meet the sugar on the surface; then you hears will catch the light scratch of the dough that breaks – maybe also a few crumbs falling on the floor; then your nose will perceive the light scent of hot oil and caramel, more and more intense until a flavor of sweet fritter will release into your mouth. Yes, the Stroscia cake reminds me of warm sweet fritter but with the consistency of shortbread biscuits.
You can eat it alone, one piece at a time. But be careful not to distract yourself, otherwise you risk to overeat it! Or you can crumble it on an ice-cream – as I did – or combine it with a custard or even soak it in a glass of sweet meditation wine.
I made it with semi-whole-wheat flour because it is a tasty, complete, healthy flour. A flour that keeps the smell of wheat and then release it once cooked.
As oil I used that of the West Italian Riviera, produced near Imperia, in Cervo Ligure, where we have a small family centenary olive grove. It is a delicate oil, little acid, fragrant and therefore perfect for use in large doses as this recipe requires.
In ancient times housewives used the so called “levau” to make the dough leavening, ie flour mixed with water and let to rest for 5 days under various blankets in the most sheltered place in the house. Today, however, you can safely use baking powder, the result does not change but time savings are evident. This cake is so easy and quick to prepare that you will want to have it ready baked on your kitchen table every day!
If you try to cook it then let me know if you as well fall in love with it!
- 500 g of all-purpose flour or semi whole wheat flour
- 16 g of baking powder
- 150 g of granulated sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 250 g of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 glass of Vermouth or Marsala
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar to dust on the surface
- grated untreated lemon zest (optional)
- Preheat the oven at 180°C (350°F)
- Sift the flour with baking powder and sugar. Form a fountain on a working surface, put a little oil in the center and start kneading. Add oil and liqueur, alternating, a little at a time and continue to knead vigorously. Add the grated lemon zest if you want.
- Continue to work the dough until you get the same consistency as a short crust pastry. If necessary, stop kneading before adding all the oil or, conversely, add a few drops of water if the dough struggles to combine. If you use the semi-whole wheat flour it is likely that it will be necessary to add liquids to obtain the desired consistency.
- Roll out the dough in a baking pan with a thickness of one centimeter and sprinkle with two tablespoons of granulated sugar.
- Put in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake surface is golden.
- Wait for it to cool before serving.
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