Friday, October 7, 2016

changing the topic

QUARESIMALE
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Draw a slit down the middle, lengthwise, from ear to ear. Not all the way through but deep enough so that the bottom remains intact and the top opens to welcome fresh whipped cream. I warn you, it will be a messy affair no matter what. Unless you don't feel comfortable slurping around the corners of your mouth you might want to consider using a napkin, if you really think it's necessary. You'll probably have to lick your fingers a couple of times too. In any case there's no user's manual, your instinct drives you to that voracious bite you were waiting for, whether it's messy or clean.

Soft, sweet, with bits of candied fruits and pine nuts, this bun is known in Rome as Quaresimale similar yet different than the well known Maritozzo, which I'm sure you may already know all about. This, is a treat you can find in Roman bakeries and cafes when entering the Lent season - the solemn religious observance that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approx. six weeks later, before Easter. In Italian, Lent translates to Quaresima and from here the name Quaresimale. Now, I'm expecting the question and before you even ask, here's the answer.  The reason why I'm proposing this glorious bun of all sorts in October - when it's not even Christmas and far from Easter - is simple.

So, let me explain.

Every morning, for years, and more than once a day I go to my favorite cafe, Moma, right next door from where I work. You can imagine how many times I head over during the day even if it's just for coffee. The first morning stop is the one I prefer most because Pino, my favorite barman, makes a cappuccino that deserves a separate solemn observance right there. Then, there's Franco, one of the owners, the man who makes all the pastries and cookies you see lined up on the counter every morning. The same pastries and cookies everyday, nothing more nor less than the-exact-same sweets you've seen the day before and the day before that. I've tried them all. Yes, every single one.  The Quaresimale, which Franco makes year round, is my favorite, not too sweet, not too dull, not too much candied fruit, not too many pine nuts.  Everything meets my morning desire in a bun made of two-three bites. He doesn't accompany it with whipped cream, I think it's not even meant to be but I always thought to myself that it would be just perfect with some. No matter how many times I've asked Franco for the recipe, he'd always end up changing the topic and I'd forget reminding him. Years have gone by and I still have not been able to get that recipe from Franco. The trick of changing the topic keeps distracting me and so you know what?  I looked it up on the web and made it a point to make my own Quaresimali, take a picture and show Franco the Monday morning of the following week. I showed him this picture and trust me they look just the same! Franco looks at the picture and says "where did you get the recipe?"

Guess what?

I changed the topic :)

But I have to admit that even if they do look the same, Franco makes such a delicious kind that I'd rather just eat his than make my own. So, for those of you that can't go to Moma, here's the recipe I used.
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Quaresimale

Ingredients
1/2 kg bread dough
a handful of raisins
2 heap tbsp pine nuts
1 heap tbsp candied orange peel, in small diced pieces
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 heap tbsp of powder sugar

Flatten the bread dough on a clean surface. Add the raisins, the pine nuts, the diced candied orange peel, the powdered sugar and the extra virgin olive oil.  Knead the dough to work in all the ingredients.  Divide the dough in small equal pieces, the size of a small bun.  Place them on a lined baking sheet, cover with a clean cloth and let them rest in a warm corner of your kitchen.  When they've doubled in size, bake in a preheated oven at 200ºC for about 20 minutes.

Glaze the buns hot out of the oven.

For the glaze, mix some powdered sugar in very little water, enough to dissolve the sugar,  Once you've glazed the surface, put the buns back in the still warm (but turned-off) oven.  Leave them in the oven just a few minutes, enough to dry the glaze.

If you decide to try these with whipped cream, allow the buns to cool completely before filling them with fresh whipped cream.

Or eat them as they are, nice a warm.




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