One of the privileges of being in Italy is the availability of delicacies that cost a fortune in most other countries.
I’m really proud of this recipe, and for several reasons. First and foremost, it tastes divine both served warm as a main course and cold as homemade salami.
Lemon poppy seed cake is a nice breakfast sponge with savoury tinge and discreet crunch. Exactly as it was served at a posh hotel in Bolzano a few weeks ago
Strudel di mele
I’ m no apple strudel expert, but I love apple cakes of all kinds, and this recipe for apple strudel reminds me of a picnic in a field near Merano.
I won’t pretend I’ m an apple strudel expert as some practitioners in Germany, Austria and Northern Italy, but I love apple cakes of all kinds, and this one reminds me of a picnic in a field near San Leonardo in Passiria, north of Merano.
Of course it takes time to roll out and stretch the dough, and it can be rather tricky to handle, but it is rewarding and meditative work, and if you are in a hurry you can always use a frozen pre-fab phyllo (filo) dough instead.
For the dough
240 g (4 dl) all purpose flour
2 tbsp melted butter + some more for brushing
A pinch of salt
Oil for brushing
For the filling
1 kilo apples
100 g raisins
1 lemon (juice and peel)
80 g (1 dl) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp pine nuts
Powdered sugar for dusting
Make a heap of flour with a hole in the middle as for making pasta. Pour melted butter, egg and a pinch of salt in the hole and start mixing. Gradually add up to 1 dl water and continue kneading until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Brush the pastry dough with oil, wrap it in cooking film and leave it to rest while you prepare the filling.
Peel the apples, if you feel like it (I don’t), and slice them thinly. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the apples to prevent them from turning brown. Then toss the sliced apples with sugar, cinnamon, pine nuts and grated lemon zest.
Now it it time to roll out the dough. Some recipes recommend doing this on a clean kitchen towel, but I find it easier to use two sheets of parchment paper. They prevent the dough from sticking to both the table and the rolling pin and allow you to make a nice and thin, oblong sheet of pastry.
Remove the top sheet of baking paper and place the filling lengthwise down the middle of the pastry. Fold the pastry edges up around the filling.
Lift the bottom sheet of parchments paper with the strudel onto an oven plate, brush the pastry with melted butter and bake at 175 C/350 F for about 1 hour.
Leave the apple strudel to cool before dusting with icing sugar.
As alternatives to this recipe for apple strudel you might want to try:
Bustrengo is a rather heavy breakfast or tea cake made from polenta and apples. Bustrengo is mostly served in Emilia Romagna.
The breakfast buffet at Hotel Americana in Trento contains a really nice cake made from polenta and apples, but I have failed to get hold of the recipe. Instead I have tried Jamie Oliver’s bustrengo and modified the ingredients a bit, as the first result became too pudding-like for my taste.
This version is moist and filling. Without additional spices it has some of the Trentino taste, and it gets better a day or two after being baked.
90 g (1½ dl) polenta (cornmeal)
180 g (3 dl) plain flour
120 g (1½ dl) sugar
100 ml (1 dl) runny honey
100 ml (1 dl) olive oil
5 (1 dl) dried figs
3 tbsp (1 dl) raisins
1 tsp salt
Powdered sugar for dusting
Core, peel and chop the apples.
Soak chopped figs and raisins in boiling water.
Mix polenta, flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
Stir eggs, honey and olive oil in the dry ingredients with an electric mixer.
Press the water from figs and raisins and fold the fruit including apples in the cake mixture.
Pour the mixture into a greased baking tin and bake for 50 minutes at 180 C (350 F)
Dust the bustrengo with powdered sugar when cold.
If you like bustrengo you might also want to try