Torta Bertulina – Antique Grape Bread from Crema
Our friends at Mondo Sapore met with Italian Winemaker Gianpoalo Paglia from the Argentario region this week. Gianpoalo and his wife are here in the US to support their young winery. From his article,
"It's cooking. Wine and food. Food and wine."
This is the basic message of Travel Italy. Balance in all things and moderation to live a long and fruitful life. We can learn from the past, implementing the good things and foregoing the bad, to prepare for a brighter future.
Ever since I began working on the article of the Turta de Lac, Raffaella has been encouraging me to write about Crema’s antique Bread with Grapes celebrating the harvest of the vineyards. It looks like a cake but it is bread, as you will see from the recipe. In Roman times, the bread was a simple dough of flour, water, eggs, and olive oil. Cooked at very low temperature for a long time. The bread was ready when the grapes began to explode. Sugar was expensive and used sparingly, thus it was only sprinkled on top once the bread was out of the oven.
In the late 1800s the local bakery, Fornaio Zanetti, began using bread dough instead of the more liquid cake dough. The baker would place a layer of bread, fill the form with grapes, add sugar, and then close with another layer of bread. A few grapes placed strategically on top and more sugar the dough is then cooked as normal bread. A liquor syrup variation made the scene in the early 1900s, but is not widely used.
If you have a scale that measures in kg use the weights instead of US measures.
Ingredients for a 12 inch cake pan (I like a spring-form pan and a 10 inch pan can be used):
1 lbs 4 oz (600 grams) Grapes (preferably Concord Grapes)
2 ¼ cups (300 grams) all-purpose Flour
1 ½ cups (200 grams) Cornmeal Flour (fine ground – if you are unable to find Cornmeal flour you can substitute with all-purpose flour)
¼ cup warm milk
½ cups olive oil (softened butter can be substituted for the olive oil)
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
1 tsp. Salt
2 packages active dry yeast (do not use rapid acting)
Sift the flours and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and salt.
Whisk together the sugar and eggs until creamy white. Stir in all of the liquids, including the oil or butter, into the dry ingredients. The mixture should be a very soft dough, not runny but very soft. Add small amounts of milk if necessary.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.
Remove the stems from the grapes, wash and allow to dry.
Oil and flour the baking pan.
Add the grapes to the dough, without breaking the grapes. Pour into the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for another 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the top with olive oil or butter and sprinkle sugar on top. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. The crust will be brown and the grapes will begin to explode.
Remove and cool on a rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
Cakes Available online
Tags: Gourmet Foods Italian Desserts Italian Holiday Bread Crema Grapes Bread Italian Recipes Food and Wine Travel Italy