Saturday, September 9, 2017

Making a Place Your Own

Dr. C. and I left San Diego just before the heat wave hit, and had been on the road for about 2 1/2 weeks before arriving in Spello on Thursday afternoon.  After living out of suitcases, and not being able to cook too much, it's been a delight to have a kitchen, and a beautiful apartment here in Spello to set up as our own for the next 2 months.

We are living in an apartment that is part of a larger palazzo.  There are frescoes on the ceilings in the living area, and we have a beautiful terrace, and garden just outside our living areas and master bedroom.  As well as our own olive tree---it doesn't get much better than this.

But, making a place your own to me, means getting into the kitchen and yesterday after having been gifted with a zillion plums from our family at Enoteca Properzio  I decided to bake a cake. The plums were grown by an organic wine maker in Ravenna, who drove down to deliver them.  I decided to bake a cake (torta in Italian) using the plums.  There is a very old recipe from the New York Times and Marian Burros that has been a standard since the 80's and I decided to use the basic recipe for these spectacular plums. The result was amazing, the batter rises up over the plums and the plums add moisture and a bit of tartness to an otherwise sweet batter, that gets crispy when baked.  I'm dealing with an oven that is calibrated in Celsius and I don't quite understand which dials do what, but it worked, and I was delighted to bring it down to the enoteca as a gift for their generous hospitality. I've said it before and I will say it again, I know NOTHING about hospitality compared to my Italian family here.  They are amazing and we are so grateful to have them.  

Plum Torte or Torta di Prunia
Makes one 10-inch (25cm) cake
This cake is incredibly forgiving, I doubled the recipes when I suddenly realized I'd used twice as much butter as the recipe called for (blaming that on jet lag)  I don't think I'd make the single recipe as it probably wouldn't puff up as beautifully, although the comments on the NY Times website seem to indicate it's a winner any way you make it even with canned fruit (OK, it was the 80's) Below is the double recipe I used.
1 cup (250 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (325 g) sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups (250 g) self rising flour (here in Italy they sell farina con levito---it's awesome)
8 to 12 plums, cut in half and pitted

Coat the inside of a 10-inch (25cm) spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour, and stir to blend.

Transfer to the prepared pan, and arrange the plums skin side up in a decorative pattern, cutting some to fit into small spaces, the more plums you have the better.
Into the oven
Bake for 1 hour (mine have taken about 10 minutes longer, but it may be the oven and my not knowing what temperature and the convection properties.  Test at 1 hour, a skewer inserted into the batter should come out clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the pan.
Serve slightly warm.
Remains of the cake, you can see how the cake has covered the plums
And so our house smells like home, and we are gradually getting over our jet lag and adjusting to being Italian.  Next week we head off to Lake Garda and the Trentino Alto Adige region.  We'll be driving a classic 1969 Alfa Romeo Duetto and Dr. C. will check off the Stelvio pass on his bucket list.  It's 43 hairpin turns over 15 miles.  He'll check off the bucket list, I'll need a barf bucket.

Here are a few more views of our beautiful terrace and yard.  

Wishing you a great weekend, ciao for now.

1 comment:

  1. It looks idyllic, Diane! So happy for you. Keep posting so we can live vicariously!