It has been a long winter correcting papers and essays, away from my blog, fretting until the day I had the time to spend writing for fun. But…but… I never left the kitchen and I am ready to share my adventures again! Over the time I have been away, I have created new dishes, cooked tried and true ones; I have replaced some aging appliances and updated favorite gadgets. I’m all set to go! I succumbed to the popular rage of the Instant Pot and can’t wait to share some of my findings. I thought hard about what recipe to share for my first posting of the summer. Torta Margherita is an easy re-entry into the food blogosphere. I was reminded of this cake last week as I browsed the Cucina Italiana website http://www.lacucinaitaliana.it/ricetta/dolci-e-dessert/torta-margherita/#step-1. I was drawn by many memories and a desire to bake it! A classic homespun Italian cake, its perfume redolent of vanilla and lemon, its texture soft and fluffy, reminds everyone of childhood. Many call it a Genoese sponge, but where it differs from a classic sponge cake, which has no fat, is that the Torta Margherita has a small amount of melted butter added to the batter. From a simple cake served as is with a little powdered sugar or topped with fruit, to layered with whipped cream, or frosted with chocolate ganache, its versatility makes it a favorite in the Italian kitchen.
I looked around for a good recipe to share with you and alas, once again, some of the hardest recipes to convert from Italian are desserts…particularly cakes!! The reason for this is that most Italian cakes use a leavening called “paneangeli.” It looks like this if you can find it in a well-stocked grocery store like Corti Brothers. Called “bread of angels” it is essentially baking powder with vanilla flavored powder. Really nothing…but not having this little packet has driven me more times than I’d like to remember to say, “aw, forget about it!” and move on.
1 packet = 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
So here is the recipe that I converted from the Cucina Italiana version which looked the simplest and requiring the least amount of flour and baking time. I’m giving you the Italian version as well if you prefer to work in grams.
150 g zucchero semolato ½ cup + 1 Tbl granulated sugar
120 g farina 1 cup flour
50 g burro fuso ½ cup unsalted butter (melted)
40 g frumina ¼ cup cornstarch (or potato starch)
6 tuorli 6 egg yolks
2 uova 2 eggs
limone the peel of I lemon finely grated
vanillina (paneangeli) 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
sale ¼ teaspoon salt
powdered sugar (optional)
1.Preheat the oven to 350 °. Prepare a 9 inch round baking pan. For good measure I used parchment on the bottom of the pan, then buttered it and the sides, lightly floured as well. Sift the flour, the cornstarch, and baking powder together and set aside.
2.In a double boiler, place the yolks, the eggs, the salt, and the sugar. Over gentle heat, begin to beat the eggs with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes until the eggs are slightly warm and fluffy. Take it off the heat and continue mixing at medium speed for 10-15 minutes until the egg mixture is thick and pale. The beaters should trail the mixture in a ribbon that holds its shape. Add the grated lemon and vanilla extract. Gently mix.
3. Add the flour mixture, little by little, folding it in carefully with a rubber spatula. Lastly, add the melted butter and gently fold it into the batter. Pour into the prepare pans and bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. The surface will spring back when ready. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, pull off the parchment paper and turn it on to a cake rack to cool. Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar or use in a variety of other ways!