I had a truly fun weekend where I volunteered to help out at an enogastronomic walk in Cardada (a mountain just above Locarno). The walk was dedicated to our local produces so I thought I’d post a recipe that is typical from my region: the torta di pane (or bread pudding cake). This is the second torta di pane recipe I post. The difference is that in this version there’s no cocoa powder; instead I used white chocolate for a twist. This kind of recipe is a great way to use leftover bread and it’s so easy that you just can’t get it wrong. For information, this cake is not made to be overly sweet and it should stay nice and moist once it’s cooked. This traditional recipe is something everyone makes here in Ticino and you can also easily find it in restaurants and grottoes.
Vanilla Bread Pudding Cake or Torta di Pane alla Vaniglia
For a 24-26 cm round cake mold
Prep time: 25 min (plus soaking time)
Cook time: about 1 hour
200 g stale bread (white or semi-white)
100 g amaretti
7 dl milk
1 vanilla pod
100 g dried apricots (the sour kind) – I would have loved to use dried physalis but didn’t find them. Sultanas are also an option
Zest of 1 lemon
100 g slivered nuts
60 g white chocolate
40 g sugar
50 g melted butter
Icing Sugar (optional)
In a bowl or container break the bread into pieces and add the amaretti.
Pour the milk in a pan. Incise the vanilla pod by its length and scrape out the seeds. Add the pod and the seeds to the milk and bring to a boil. Once ready pour over the stale bread and amaretti and leave to soak for 2-3 hours. You can leave the vanilla pod in, just remember to remove it once the bread and biscuits have soaked.
Chop the dried apricots and place them in a cup. Add hot water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours.
Grate the white chocolate.
Heat oven at 190°C.
Once the bread and amaretti have soaked, mash them with a fork as finely as possible. Drain the apricots and add them to the bread preparation along with the white chocolate, the lemon zest, and ¾ of the almonds.
In a separate bowl mix well the eggs and the sugar and add the butter and eventually the grappa. Pour over the rest and mix the ingredients with your hands or with a spatula until the mass looks even.
Grease the sides of a cake tin and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the cake tin with oven paper. Transfer the preparation to the cake tin and even out the surface. Add the remaining pine nuts and place in the oven for about 1 hour.
Once ready leave to cool before removing from mold. Eventually sprinkle surface with icing sugar.