One of the cookbooks, I use most often is Italian Country Cooking – The Secrets of Cucina Paver by Loukie Werle.
I worked with Loukie in magazine land (she was Food Editor of House & Garden, She & many more) and I have always loved her simple, very Italian attitude to food.
Especially when my desk was across the hall from her test kitchen. They were good days.
This book is full of rustic dishes that my family love to eat and holds the recipe for Torta Caprese – a cake that should be a staple in any bakers inventory.
Not only is this dense, moist cake ridiculously delicious but it has a good back story. Legend suggests that this simple torta was a mistake. Made in error by a local woman baking for Amercian gangsters on the Isle of Capri. She was so nervous, she omitted the flour and inadvertently created one of histories great flourless cakes.
In Italy it’s served with vanilla gelato but I like it with double cream and fresh berries.
125 grams unsalted butter
200 grams dark chocolate, chopped
250 grams of sugar
5 large eggs, separated
250 grams of almond meal (or hazelnuts finely ground).
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. line a 10 inch round, springform cake pan with baking paper
Combine the butter, chocolate and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set over simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat until the butter is melted and the chocolate is soft, about five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth. cool to room temperature.
Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, one by one, with a wooden spoon making sure each is incorporated before adding the next, stir in the almond meal or hazlenuts.
Beat the egg whites with the salt in a bowl until stiff peaks form; fold into the chocolate mixture by thirds, just until no white streaks remain. scrape into the prepared cake tin and bake 40-60 minutes or until the cake starts to shrink away from the sides, and is firm in the middle with a fudgy top.
Cool on rack, remove from pan and allow to rest for half an hour before serving.