Torta Garfagnana

St. Peter’s day is on June 29th, and here is a cake for his feast day, which comes from Garfagnana. Garfagnana is part of the province of Lucca, which is one of the 10 provinces in Tuscany, which, in turn, is one of the 20 regions of Italy. (Hmm… on a side note, how interesting. My family visited Firenze nearly four years ago. Makes me wonder… with all the other places we went through, if we, by any chance, came close to Garfagnana. At any rate, I wouldn’t have been aware of it.) This recipe is from Cooking with the Saints, compiled by Ernst Schuegraf, a cookbook very necessary for Catholic homeschoolers like us. :D I didn’t have a 10 x 10 cake pan, as was called for, so I substituted an 8 x 12 glass pyrex. (The next size up would’ve been 17 square inches over, so I figured, better short by 4.) It worked just fine, so I’ve left it as an 8 x 12 in the recipe. The results were most satisfactory.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 lemon
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds (run whole almonds in the food processor, or if you mean to use store-bought almond flour, make sure there is no sugar added)
1 tbsp anise seed
2 eggs
5 tbsp cherry brandy
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 12 inch glass pyrex and set aside.

Melt the butter in the microwave, stirring if needed. Leave it to cool. Meanwhile, grate the lemon rind (make sure you get ALL of it!!!) and set aside.

Thoroughly combine flour, sugar, ground almonds, anise seed, and lemon rind in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, break the eggs into it, and add the melted butter and cherry brandy.

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Fold the wet ingredients in. It will be a dough that comes together quite nicely, not like a batter.. yet. :D

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Warm the milk in the microwave for about a minute. Stir it well, just to make sure it’s all nice and hott. In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar and baking soda. Holding the milk over the bowl with the dough-y thing-y (because you don’t know if it’ll spill when you… well, just wait), add the cream of tartar/baking soda. WHEEEE it’ll FOAM. Funn. :D Hehe, I take pleasure in those things… looks like a cross between meringue and… soap. Haha.

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NOW add this to the dough.. thing.. and once it’s all mixed together nicely it will be a BATTER. Happy! :D A nice, thick batter. Pour this into your prepared pyrex.

Bake for an hour, at which point, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Sift powdered sugar over the cake, if you wish, and serve warm or cold as your mood suits.

I’m not a fan of anise seed, but I did LOVE this. Here’s a picture of some of them once they were all wrapped up for the bake sale at the festival at our parish. I didn’t realize I hadn’t taken a picture of them after they were baked until I was going to come post… Mah badd. At any rate, if this picture is not incredibly impressive… because it is not the best, of course… just trust me. S’all good.

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