Today I would like to present miascia (mee-AH-sha), a typical cake from my beautiful home, Lake Como. It is one of the traditional peasants’ sweets prepared with stale bread (“pan poss” in the local dialect) with the addition of dried and fresh fruit. Most of the farmers’ cakes are prepared with dried fruit or fresh fruit (both in this recipe) to compensate the lack of sugar that, in the past, was very common among the less well off. The fruit actually adds minerals and vitamins that sugar doesn’t have, making this cake also nutritious. In the past miascia could even replace a full meal or be served on very special occasions such as parties or celebrations. Today it is enjoyed as a great dessert accompanied by a fortified wine or vanilla ice cream. Maybe George Clooney loves it too!
It is also a tasty snack, going well with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.
MIASCIA, LAKE COMO CAKE
Preparation time: 2 hours +40 minutes Baking time: 45 minutes Servings : 8
500 g (about 18 oz) stale bread
15 amaretti cookies, crushed
500 ml (about 2 cups) whole milk
120 ml (½ cup) Amaretto di Saronno liqueur
50 g (1/4 cup) toasted pine nuts
150 g (3/4 cup) raisins
70 g (⅓ cup) sugar
1 organic lemon, zest
50 g (about 3 tablespoons) butter, melted
1-3 tablespoon all-purpose flour or corn flour “Fioretto”
1. Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan over low heat for a few minutes until golden brown. Cool and set aside
2. Cut the bread into small pieces and soak in a large bowl with milk and Amaretto liqueur. Let stand for about 2 hours. Add more milk if the bread is not soaked enough. The amount of milk depends on the type of bread used and how stale it is. Sometimes you also need a little bit less milk, so start with a smaller amount. It has to be wet but not soggy. Add more if neccessary
3. Preheat oven to 190°C (about 350°F)
4 . Cut apples and pears into thin slices and add immediately to the bread with the remaining ingredients (pine nuts, amaretti, raisins, eggs, sugar, lemon peel, butter and flour). Mix all ingredients together well
5. Wet and wring out some baking paper and line a baking pan (25 cm diameter, 10 inch) with it to make prevent the cake from sticking. Wetting the paper allows it to follow the sides of the pan better
6. Pour the batter into the pan and cook for 15 minutes. After this time, lower the temperature to 150°C (300°F) and bake for an additional 30 minutes until golden
7. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for about 15 minutes. While your cake is still warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy immediately. If you don’t plan to eat it immediately, add the powder sugar just right before you eat it.
Note: There are a few variations of this classic recipe in which a small amount of corn flour Fioretto (2-3 tablespoons ) is added . The type of bread used is very important both for the taste and the quantity of milk. You can also use whole grain bread with seeds, as was used in the past for rustic miascia. In any case, the bread should be a hearty, baker’s bread, not an industrially-produced sliced bread. The result will be a very sweet, delicious and healthy treat! – Paola