Yesterday was Ferragosto, an Italian holiday and the peak of summer. It goes back to Roman days (18 BC, says Wikipedia) and it’s also the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Our neighbourhood was already quiet, but it’s been just deserted this weekend. Lots of parking, hardly any laundry out, and we can actually hear the gentle swoosh of birds flying by. And it rained, so the temperature dropped under 28C! After weeks of relentless heatwave after heatwave, it is just wonderful. I baked bread, sorted clothes for the refugee collection (there is a camp at Tiburtina), tidied away post-guest bed linen piles, and made a cake for the first time in ages.
Spurred by the temporary drop in temperature, I have been sorting through my baking cupboard. Why do I have four boxes of dark syrup from Norway? And three boxes of potato starch? And an unreasonable amount of cream of tartar. If you have a mortal fear of expiration dates, please look away now: I also unearthed three rolls of marzipan, the oldest from 2012…. Still edible, so into this cake a wedge of the vintage marzipan went, with precious Norwegian rhubarb.
Ferragosto cake with rhubarb and vintage marzipan
2 large eggs
50 g sugar
180 g plain wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
50 g melted butter, slightly cooled
Pinch of salt
100 ml milk
One large stick of rhubarb (about 120 grammes)
60 g marzipan
Pre-heat the oven to 210C. Whisk eggs and sugar. Sift in flour and baking powder, with a pinch of salt. Add milk and melted butter, slightly cooled. Line the base of a 24 cm cake tin with a circle of baking parchment.
Pour half the batter into the prepared cake tin. Now, take your chopped rhubarb (thumbnail sized pieces) and crumble the marzipan over, then pour the rest of the batter over it. Bake in the middle of the oven for 45 min or so at 210C, until the cake is nicely golden.
Cool slightly and enjoy!
Notes: I had been planning to make rabarbragrøt, a rhubarb compote/thickened dessert soup, but then I saw the marzipan and swapped to cake. Compote might be better with frozen rhubarb anyway (that might be a bit soggy in a cake). I thought it might be a bit tart with the rhubarb added like this, unsugared, but it’s actually OK with the marzipan crumbled through, that complements the tart little pockets of rhubarb. I had made an apple/marzipan cake earlier, using a 20cm tim, and this is a flatter variation of that.