The Italian Academy of Cuisine, La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy (2009), page 879. Rizzoli Publications, Inc. Translated by Jay Hyams.
About the Book
This beast of a cookbook clocks in at 928 pages, and contains 2,000 regional Italian recipes. Its instructions are spartan, but the book is filled with bona fide hits. La Cucina comes about thanks to the hard work of the Italian Academy of Cuisine (founded in 1953), whose self-proclaimed primary purpose is, “the safeguarding of Italy’s culinary traditions.” Italy is a big country, and the food is vastly different from one region to the next. This book allows you to explore and celebrate those differences.
What’s the Dish?
It’s a simple, homey rice pudding, baked in a breadcrumb-dusted cake pan, then baked until golden. This recipe for Torta di Riso all’Antica from the Valle d’Aosta region is a very simple, intuitive dish. I wouldn’t even classify it as a cake, so much as a rice pudding that has taken on a cake’s shape and characteristics.
Number of Attempts
It seemed like it might be too simple a recipe. I was afraid of a runny, wet, pudding cake, but I was totally wrong to worry: it came together quite easily.
There really wasn’t anything bad about this. Some might argue in favor of a sweeter cake, but I certainly won’t.
How Was It?
It tasted like the rice pudding from my childhood – plump raisins, sweet rice, lemon zest — but converted into another form of dessert. As a cake, it was versatile (it can be served hot or cold), and durable (it does not dry out).
Would I Make It Again?
This is a great pantry staple. You can keep all of these ingredients on hand pretty easily, and throw this together cheaply and quickly. It’s not a blow-you-away dessert, but still one I find comforting. Plus, leftover, it makes for a great mid-day snack with coffee, or maybe with a glass of wine.