Egg-free cocoa cake with ricotta

imageA friend arrives tomorrow, and the guest bed is made up and spare towels are ready. I am looking forward to chats and tea, to catching up, and to enjoying more of this cake. My friend is allergic to eggs, and I was thinking of making these vegan cupcakes, which look delicious. Maybe next time; today, I made this cocoa cake and very nice it was too.

Egg-free cocoa cake with ricotta

2 cups all purpose wheat flour (I used 00)
1.25 cups sugar
100 grammes butter, softened
250 grames ricotta
1/2 cup cocoa powder (dark, unsweetened)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup semi-skimmed milk

Mix everything in a bowl. Heat oven to 180C. Line base of a 24cm baking tin with baking parchment, and scoop batter in. Bake at 180C for 50 minutes or so, until it looks done and a cake tester comes out clean. This took longer than expected, the cake is still quite moist and fudgy but really delicious.

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This is adapted from Eggless Chocolate Cake – Made with Ricotta Cheese, many thanks for the inspiration. I just used a bit more milk and ricotta as my batter was dry, cocoa, but the original looks great too.

Tomorrow the flight of my friend arrives at 5AM (arrrrghhh……) so after breakfast I foresee an early stroll to the farmers market, then some tea and cake. Maybe with the first strawberries? Mmmmmmmm……. A good Sunday  coming up.

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Fave e pecorino for May Day

fave e pecorino

It is May Day, a public holiday in Italy (as in many countries) and our neighbourhood is deserted. I see lots of laundry flapping in the wind, but many will have gone to the beach, or for a picnic out of town. What many Romans will be enjoying is Fave e Pecorino: fresh fava beans, and pecorino cheese, a combination traditionally eaten today. So that is what we just had for lunch, sweet crunchy fava beans and salty pecorino. Very nice!

imageThere is no cooking involved: take one hunk of pecorino cheese, which is a salty, hard cheese made from sheep’s milk, and cut some wedges of it. Pile up the raw fava beans, in pods, and  everyone peels their own pods. There is a thick membrane around each bean, which you peel off before eating the beans. They taste a bit like raw peas, and go very well with the cheese. With cold white wine, this is delicious. (Also without wine, very tasty too!)

fave e pecorinoHappy May Day to all! I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday #66, as this is a great picnic dish, and very seasonal. Peeling the fava beans takes time, so there is plenty of time for a good chat. Many thanks to the hosts, Angie@thenovicegardener and   Anna @Anna International!

Fiesta Friday

Bread with soaker, and Umbrian soup

Seeded loaves

Sourdough is my preferred bread, but sometimes the weekend rolls around and shopping has not been done, laundry is piling up, visitors are are arriving and the sourdough starter has certainly not been fed for the last two weeks. And I’m missing Fiesta Friday again. Oh no! Time to get sorted. Thus we had scrambled eggs and pickled herring for breakfast (yes, I just had a trip to IKEA to stock up on Kalle’s kaviar, sursild and rhubarb cordial), we chucked some laundry in, and I contemplated what other bread baking would best fit the day. It is also finally warm enough for cambia di stagione time here, which is when you change over your wardrobe from winter to spring/summer, and pull out summer shoes and sandals, so it needed to be a simple bread. I soaked the base for this bread, went for coffee, then set this dough, stashed away winter wear, and made soup. All sorted by dinner time.

Bread with soaker (2 loaves)

Soaker:
100 grammes whole wheat berries (helkorn)
50 grammes flax seeds
50 grammes quick-cook oatmeal
250 ml boiling water
Pour water over grains, seeds and oats. Cover, and leave to soak and cool 1-2 hours.

Then:
25 grammes fresh yeast  (or 12 grammes dried yeast)
180 grammes plain yoghurt (I used goat yoghurt)
300 ml water
400 grammes all-purpose wheat flour (I used 00)
150 grammes wholewheat flour
5 grammes salt

Crumble the fresh yeast, pour over water and yoghurt, add soaked grains, seeds and oats. Add flours, and stir it all together. After ten minutes, add salt and fold several times again, until the dough is mixed well. Cover, and leave to rise to double size.
rising dough

Fold the dough again, divide it in two and move the two dough portions to two medium sized baking parchment-lined bread tins. Cover, and let them rise another 30-45 minutes. It depends on the temperature of your kitchen, but you’ll see the dough rise and expand.

Heat the oven to 220C. When ready to bake, slash the tops and bake them for 45 minutes. I increased the oven to 230C at the end, as I thought the loaves were a bit pale.

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These loaves were destined to be part of our dinner, but with what? We have been watching Italy Unpacked, which is great, and the last episode they went to Le Marche and Umbria. And I had a bag of Umbrian legumes in the cupboard, and a vegetable drawer that had seen better days, so Umbrian bean soup it was. Are the dried legumes not just beautiful?

Umbrian legumes
 

Umbrian bean soup
500 grammes of pearl barley and mixed dried legumes: green lentils, fava beans, borlotti beans, peas (any commination you have), ideally soaked 12 hours
2 sticks celery
handful parsley
small onion
3 carrots
1 litre chicken stock + 1 litre water
salt and pepper to taste
Soak the legumes 12 hours (I soaked these 9, I confess…….). Chop vegetables, toss them in a pot. Drain the soaked legumes, and toss everything in the pot. Cook gently for an hour or so.

There you go: dinner!

bread and soup It’s a humble contribution to Fiesta Friday 65, with thanks to co-hosts this week Effie @Food Daydreaming and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook.

Fiesta Friday