The torta paesana is a typical dessert from the Lecco, Monza, and Brianza areas of Lombardy. It is a humble dessert prepared with dried or fresh fruit, which is used to obtain a natural sugar base. Back in the day, sugar was a rarity, and it was found only in the pantries of the upper classes. As a result, this cake contains very little added sugar, making it healthier yet delicious.
Today the torta paesana is mostly consumed as a dessert, but in the past, it sometimes replaced the actual meal and was also served on special occasions such as holidays or anniversaries. At Christmas and Easter, therefore, it was found on the tables of the poorer classes.
There are multiple variations of this recipe, and some of the ingredients can be replaced with whatever you have in your pantry. For instance, if you don’t like raisins, you can use other dried berries or even fresh fruit. Pine nuts can be replaced with other nuts, such as walnuts. And the liqueur can be replaced with simple coffee. Regardless of which ingredients you use, this moist cake is a great way to use up stale bread.
Torta paesana con amaretti e cioccolato
- 300 grams stale bread
- 1 liter whole milk
- 2 medium eggs
- 120 grams amaretti
- 100 grams dark chocolate
- 120 grams granulated sugar
- 70 grams raisins
- 50 grams pine nuts
- zest and juice of one orange
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Warm the milk slowly (do not let it boil).
- Cut the stale bread into little cubes and place in a bowl.
- Grate the orange zest into the bowl with the bread.
- Add the warm milk to the bowl and mix everything together.
- Cover the bowl with plastic film.
- Leave the bread to soak for 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.
- In another bowl, mix the raisins and orange juice.
- Grind the amaretti into a powder, either by using a blender or by placing them in a bag and mashing them up by hand. Add the ground amaretti to the bread mixture.
- Melt the chocolate and stir into the mixture.
- Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture.
- When everything is combined, add the sugar and pine nuts.
- Drain the orange juice from the raisins and add the raisins to the mixture.
- Grease a 10-inch cake pan and pour the mixture into it.
- Place it in the oven for roughly 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- When finished, take the torta paesana out of the oven and leave it to cool.
- Remove the torta paesana from the cake pan and serve.