Torta di Zucchini
I'll admit to a fair amount of sleepiness this morning, despite a good nights rest. I think it's reflected in the photos, the ones of the finished cake, zucchini cake, that is.
I made the cake yesterday, late afternoon, as Roberto recuperated from a mid-morning dermatological surgery. It was inevitable, the baking. The process was comforting, but at moments taxing. I was already sleepy, you see. Stress does that, it shocks the mind and body. I suffered the aftershocks throughout most of the afternoon into the evening. Aching joints, headache, and finally the battle to stay awake as we watched some tv before bed.
I recall at the last Charm City Cookbook Club gathering being asked which cookbook I go back to again and again. Lately it seems to be Lidia's Italian Table. I didn't realize it until yesterday when I reached for it first thing in the morning, before the days stress has strengthened its grip. I immediately went to the soup section, followed by sweets. I had it in my head that I'd make Zuppa di Patate, Rucola, e Pane (bread, potato, and arugula soup), but my mid-afternoon trip to the market left me void of arugula. Zucchini was plentiful, though. So, I gathered about 5 medium. Two went into the cake, while another was added to marinara which we ate with ditalini. Spoon fed comfort.
The cake took about 1 hour, 30 minutes to bake, when it should have only taken 1 hour, 10 minutes. Longer than I had hoped. I guess I should have squeezed out a little more liquid from the zucchini...No matter. The cake was still incredibly moist, yet fully cooked when I pulled it to a rack to cool on the counter.
I was smitten with the end result last night as we indulged over espresso. Even more so this morning eaten with a smear of peanut butter with coffee and clementine.
The recipe was sensible and no-nonsense, but I must admit that I changed one ingredient. I felt that the extra virgin olive oil it called for would exact to much personal commentary over the finished piece, so I changed it to canola.
'It's good!' Roberto yelled from the living room where his foot lay propped upon a mound of pillows on the sofa, his body interacting with the pain meds, staving off the pain.
I brought our espressos to the coffee table...'I could never be a waitress' I said walking slow and steady across the tiled floor. Panicking slightly, hoping that clumsy would take holiday.
I set down the espressos without incident and took a bite of the cake. There's such sweet relief when it turns out. I can relax and enjoy. Better yet, I can have confidence that Roberto is enjoying it as well. His opinion is all that matters as far as I'm concerned. My own discerning in-house food critic.
When we were finished, our bellies retiring, the sleepiness mounted. I was flush with happiness though. I knew I would sleep well and better still, more cake in the morning for breakfast.
Torta di Zucchini
from Lidia's Italian Table
Whisk together 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda and set aside.
In your stand mixer, beat together 3 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla and one cup extra virgin olive oil or canola until well blended.
Add 1 2/3 cups sugar and beat until well blended.
Add in dry ingredients and beat until well blended.
Add in 2 cups grated zucchini (drained of excess water), 1 cup chopped walnuts, 3/4 cup golden raisins and the grated zest of one lemon. Beat until everything looks blended, but don't over beat. You can also fold these ingredients in, if you like.
Transfer batter to a greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and bake in a 325° oven for about 1 hour, 10 minutes. If the cake is still moist continue to bake in 10 minute intervals.
Cool completely before slicing and eating...if you can...we couldn't.