That’s probably the reason biscotti are my absolute favorite cookies to make around the holidays – they don’t ask for much in terms of labor or fuss and they happen to pack very nicely into cellophane bags for gifting and sharing.
My daughter and her friend began to make this cake disappear one afternoon, tearing off pieces with their hands, letting the crumbs fall down to where the dog was waiting, eager to take on the role of floor-polisher.
Although I think my kids should be long past the stage of being wary of nuts in and around their food – they don’t have allergies or anything else to cause worry – they still hesitate before taking a sample of any cake, cookie or other sweet baked thing with clear nut visibility.
Apparently this cake seemed appealing despite that slight defect, because half of it was gone before I could reply.
“It’s like a coffee cake…”
“Oh, yeah. I like coffee cake, but this looks kinda flat. Are you sure it’s a coffee cake?”
“It’s an Italian coffee cake, not puffy like the ones you’re used to. You like it?”
This is my take on sbrisolona, Italian crumb cake. Most traditional ones are made with almonds or pine nuts like this one from Mario Batali, but I wanted to use pistachios, so here you go.
It turns out properly crumby, not like a dry cookie but a slightly sticky crumble.
This cake is prepared entirely in a food processor before baking. It keeps very well on your kitchen counter for a few days, if it lasts that long.
- For streusel:
- ½ cup shelled pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- For cake:
- 1 cup shelled pistachios, toasted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground anise seed
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup melted butter
- Grated zest from 1 lemon
- Heat oven to 325 degrees and lightly brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil or melted butter.
- To make the streusel, stir together all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Grind the pistachios in a food processor until fine crumbs form; add the flour, sugar, anise seed and baking powder and pulse to combine.
- Whisk together the eggs, olive oil, butter and lemon zest until emulsified; add to the flour mixture in the food processor and blend just until the batter is smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Spread batter into the pan and top evenly with the streusel. Bake 25 – 30 minutes; the cake should spring back to the touch.
- Cool cake on a rack 10 – 15 minutes before removing sides of the pan; allow cake to cool completely.
I was planning to experiment with more Marcella Hazan recipes this week – she’s become like my fairy godmother for cooking inspiration lately.
At some point I will continue with my original thought, which was to make Marcella’s crespelle, the Italian version of crepes. They’re usually served as a savory meal, layered and stacked into cakes along with cheese, vegetables, meat and other delicious things.
But…I was temporarily distracted after seeing the chocolate pound cake that Laura recently posted on her lovely dessert blog Tutti Dolci. I decided to join the April Chocolate Party hosted by Roxana instead.
So here’s what happened to those crespelle – they turned into buttermilk buckwheat crepes with warm chocolate sauce (this month’s Party theme is chocolate and buttermilk).
Now that strawberries are popping up, I had to include them in what I hope is a long, sweet and “fruitful” season.
Does it seem strange to marinate berries in olive oil? I was inspired while in San Francisco recently, where I had a strawberry brushetta drizzled with it. I think really good oil tastes just right drizzled on ripe fruit, and now look forward to trying all kinds of combinations.
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 ounces chopped dark or semisweet chocolate
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for pan
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons raw, turbinado or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil – from your best bottle
- To make the chocolate sauce, whisk sugar and water together in a small saucepan until dissolved. Bring to a simmer; add the cocoa and salt, whisking to blend. Remove from the heat; add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature until thickened slightly, or refrigerate until cold (reheat before serving).
- Combine the buttermilk, water, flours, eggs, butter, sugar and salt in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the container to incorporate any flour sticking to the side and blend for a few more seconds to mix. Cover the container (or transfer to a bowl) and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Combine the strawberries, sugar and olive oil and let stand 10 minutes or so while making the crepes.
- Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles instantly on the surface.
- Brush the pan with some butter and add enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan - 2 or 3 tablespoons; I use a small ladle - immediately tilting and swirling pan to make an even circle of batter.
- Cook the crepe until the bottom is set and light golden – you can shake the pan a little to see if it slides; if it does, it’s about ready to flip. Turn the crepe over gently with your fingers or small spatula and cook the other side for another minute or two.
- The first crepe is usually a practice one, but congratulations if yours comes out perfectly! Repeat the process with the rest of the batter, stacking crepes and layering with wax or parchment paper as you go.
- Serve crepes topped with strawberries and warm chocolate sauce.
Crepe recipe adapted from 1997 Joy of Cooking