During my latest gastro globe-trotting in the South of Italy I was constantly fuming why it is that Europe is still not aware of the art of the Italian confectionery. In turn from the ice cream to the marzipan and not to mention the variety of cakes can be traced back to Italian origin. Wandering in Naples and in the Amalfi coast I noticed that that the Italians prefered instead of creamy, oily pasta a kind of “dry” cake (which is very logical due to the climate). When I happened to taste some traditional Italian recipes they usually contained almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, dried and candied fruits, honey, figs, oranges, pineapple, lemon and corn flour. In Naples the most popular and cheapest sweet sort was the crostata– a very delicious, light cake. The other famous pastry was the Genoa bread- a kind of sponge cake (ingredients for 4 persons: 10 ounces of flour, 12 ounces of powdered sugar, 10 g butter, 4 eggs, rum, vanilla and lemon zest) which is well known that the base of all other cakes.
The Genoa Bread is traditionally made in a “pain de Gênes” pan, which has tall sides. It is often served with a fruit confit on top. Some say Genoa Bread was first made by a pastry chef named Fauvel who worked at the Chiboust pastry shop in St-Honoré street in Paris in the 1840s. He named it at first “gateau d’ambroise” (Ambrosia Cake.) Later, the cake was called “Gâteau de Gênes”, and finally “pain de Gênes”.
Yesterday I gave a try to the cake but I added to the dough the juice of one orange. The outcome was super.
Ingredients: 100 g flour, 100 g almond, 2 eggs, half teaspoon of baking powder, 100 gr sugar, the juice of one orange, 1 pack of vanilia sugar, a pinch of salt
Directions: A typical Genoa cake is made by beating the egg yolks with sugar until they are light and creamy. Pour over the squeezed orange juice then carefully sieving and folding in the flour and the almond (depending on the recipe, the flour may be mixed with a small amount of baking powder, though some recipes use only the air incorporated into the egg mixture, relying on the denaturing of the egg proteins and the thermal expansion of the air to provide leavening). Sometimes, the yolks are beaten with the sugar first while the whites are beaten separately to a meringue-like foam, to be gently folded in later. The mixture is then poured into the chosen cake tin and baked. Both methods take great care to incorporate air in the beating, whisking, and sieving stages. This makes a very light product, but it is easy to lose the air by removing the cake before it has finished in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes to 180 degrees.