Monday, February 26, 2007

Fugazza or Fugassa vicentina

Fugazza or fugassa, not to be confused with the ligurian savory focaccia, is not well known as pandoro di Verona.
In the past was prepared mainly for Easter, nowadays it is possible to find it in pasticceria at all times.

This has been my first attempt to fugassa. It's not as buttery and rich as pandoro but a good breakfast option. I didn't have any vanilla sugar so I boiled a vanilla stick in the water for the initial starter and I really think the vanilla sugar would have been a better choice. Anyway, I am really pleased with the result, not bad at all.

You will need

380 g of bread flour
140 g vanilla sugar
90 g butter
25 g of fresh cake yeast (or 2 and half teaspoons of instant yeast, I used the gold saf instant)
lemon and orange zest (I read that it was used Spumador, a liquor with orange and lemon flavor, impossible for me to find)
1 teaspoon salt

For topping
extra granulated sugar, 10X sugar and almond slices

First dough
I combined 130 g of flour with 1 and half teaspoons of instant yeast, added enough lukewarm water to make a stiff dough, put to rise in a warm place for half an hour.

Second dough
Whip one egg with 40 g of vanilla sugar and 30 g of soft butter, add 120 g of flour. In the stand mixer I kneaded this second dough, with the first one, added in chunks. Let rise for 1 and half hours in a warm spot.

Third dough

Whip one egg with 50 g of vanilla sugar and 30 g of soft butter, add 120 flour. In the mixer incorporate the second dough in chunks fot the third dough. Let rise for 2 and half hours.

Fourth dough
Mix one teaspoon of instant yeas, 10 g of flour and a little bit of water. Whip one yolk (reserve the white) with 50 g of sugar and 30 g of soft butter, add lemon and orange zest and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the yeast mixture. Incorporate in the mixer the third dough in chunks. Let rise for one hour.

Punch down, work the dough a little bit and form a tight ball. Put on a buttered and floured pan, make a dip cross with a sharp knife and surround the dough with a 20 cm ring (I used a spring form pan ring). cover loosely and let proof for about 2 and half to 3 hours.

Slightly whip the reserved egg white and brush the top of the dough, dust with granulated sugar and afterwords x10, sprinkle with shaved almonds. I should have used pearl sugar but sometimes I have an hard time to find it, in Italy you can buy in any supermarket. Here I used a coarser sugar than granulated (the kind suggested for jams) and 10 X, it worked fine anyway.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 Celsius for about 40 minutes, cover with foil if it gets too dark. Check the cooking with a long skewer.

Edited to add this: Federica, a friend from an Italian cooking forum, told me that in fact-as I suspected-the fugazza traditionally it's not baked in a mold but it has a round shape. Apart from the shape I still think that this bread tastes really good.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Riso con la zucca

This month on Egullet we are talking about food from Veneto. A lot of recipes with rice.

I decided to start with risotto con la zucca. I took the inspiration from Oretta Zanini De Vita and her collection of regional recipes. I decided to cook part of the squash in the rice, part saute' in the pan and added to the finish plate for decoration. Look nicer and I like to feel the different consistency of the squash, soft with the rice and and firmer the saute' one.

Sweat some finely chopped white onion with oil and butter (a tablespoon a person) add some small diced squash (I used kabocha since I didn't have the chioggia squash) and the rice (80-100 g) a person, toast the rice for some minutes, it should not get any color, start adding chichen stock and keep stirring, adding more hot stock when the previous have been absorbed. Meanwhile, in a small pan, saute' some more diced squash, adjusting salt at the end.
When the rice is almost done add a little bit of chopped parsley and little grana padano. Leave the rice "all'onda", add some butter for "mantecare" and let rest a couple minutes.
Plate the risotto and top with some of the saute' squash, if you like dust with a tenuos quantity of cinnamon.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


By the name of sanguinaccio is often meant a chocolate cake with pork blood, in Naples it refers to a chocolate cream that nowadays doesn't cointain any blood, only chocolate. It's often served with chiacchiere around Carnevale.

This recipe was posted on the Cucina Italian forum by Lydia Capasso from Naples.

1.1 l milk
400g sugar (for my taste is too much I use 260 grams)
100g bitter cocoa powder
100g bittersweet chocolate
75g wheat starch (or cornstarch)
2 tablespoons of flour
vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of butter
dark rum half a small liquor glass

Dissolve the starch and the flour with a little bit of cold milk, taken from the total (separately), then pour into a pot, add the sifted cocoa, the remaining milk and the chocolate in pieces, the sugar and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk, let cook 5 minutes. I pass it through a chinoise or a tamis, and when lukewarm I add the vanilla and rum.

Stir to let cool and then refrigerate.

I serve it in small liquor glassed with a dust of white chocolate.


Yesterday I had friends over for dinner and I took the chance to make chiacchiere for the year (chi sound in Italian is ki). They are so good an addictive that I only make once a year, in fact they are a classical fried threat for Carnevale.

Chiacchiere means chit chats, my idea is because they are crunchy and when you eat them they produce a noise that make you think of chit chatting. The name varies all around Italy, I am not even sure I can recall all of them: bugie, frappe, sfrappe, crostoli, galani, cenci.

The recipe I follow was posted by Sergio Salomoni on the Cucina Italiana forum some years ago.

500g Flour 00 type (you could use also a AP flour, better with low protein content)
50g sugar
50g softened butter
3 small eggs (or 2 large eggs and 1 yolk)
a small glass of grappa (or even white wine, as I did this time)
a small glass of dry marsala
a pinch of salt

I halved the recipe using 1 egg and one yolk and I manage to fry a big tray of chiacchiere

Work the ingredients adding the grappa and marsala a little at the time to adjust the necessary liquid content to get to a smooth, pretty stiff dough. Should be like a pasta dough.

Let rest covered for one hour. After the resting time, cut and roll the dough with the imperia (or pasta) machine. I like to stop at the third last thickness, or second last of my pasta machine. Some people like it thinner. I do not let dry the sheets of dough but immediately go on cutting and frying.

With a serrated pastry wheel I cut rectangles of about 4 inches x 2.5 (10 cm x6 cm) and cut in the middle of each rectangles without getting to the hedges, lengthwise. But you can cut longer and thin strips and tie them, or you can be creative.

Deep fry in planty of oil ( I use peanut oil), but many Italians for Carnival, where excesses are permitted, will use lard, because fried stuff come out perfectly dry and not oily. I find that if you do that you need a very good lard, otherwise you'll have an aftertaste.

Chiacchiere are very easy to make, you need to be just a little careful in frying, the oil should be hot but not to the point where the chiacchiere will burn as soon as you put them in. So, not french fries temperature, maybe around 160 C. My suggestion is to fry no more then 3 chiacchiere at the time and turn them after few seconds, they should be of a nice golden colour, not dark.

Drain them on paper and when they are all done dust with powdered sugar. If you plan to eat them immediately they don't need to be covered, I do only if I want to keep for several days. Do not refrigerate.

Before trying them wait until they are cold and powdered with sugar.

You can serve with sanguinaccio, as they do in Naples