Here we are with a new recipe for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook. As some of you might know the past year I often travelled to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy: Naples. Falling in love with a proud Neapolitan I did not miss out on the opportunity to visit the city, admiring its culture, beauty but especially enjoying its gastronomic specialties. Specialties of which time by time I have written down the names, usually using my cellphone transferring all manually on post-its when back in Chiasso. Too often these notes are then forgotten, buried by piles of books that gradually accumulate while I research for other recipes during my work of testing and programming for the baking workshops I teach at Maroggia’s Mill. Usually I and end up finding the precious notes while I clear up the mess, which I must admit happens quite infrequently, peeking out from a notebook inviting me with their phosphorescent colors to undertake a new challenge in the kitchen. So it happened with the migliaccio, a typical dessert of the Campania tradition. Hold on, before unleashing horrified comments and anathemas. This recipe has nothing to do with the traditional recipe, if not as an inspiration for this cake that I renamed semolina cheesecake. Why a cheesecake? Well this cake has a crust and the filling as the traditional dessert too requires ricotta, which makes it in itself a sweet cheesecake. Did I convince you? Well I hope so. First of all I decided to use a very fine soft wheat semolina flour, which is great for making gnocchi alla romana too, and compared to the original recipes found online I added a much lower amount of sugar. The dough, made with 00 flour, is also slightly sweetened so if you want you can add ten grams of sugar if you prefer sweeter flavors. Raisins can be soaked in rum to give the sweet an edge and nothing prevents you from adding other ingredients in the semolina filling, may it be candied fruit, nuts, chocolate or fruit it’s up to your preferences. The dessert is fresh and light and if you want to make a simpler version you can skip on lining the cake tin with pastry, but remember to grease well the mold and sprinkle it with plenty of semolina!
What remains of the cake…what to do with it? Sometimes, even though not very often, a bit of cake may remain uneaten, waiting to be finished and eventually ends drying up. Or in the worst cases, as it happened to me with Antinea’s birthday cake, a part of a layered cake might break effectively becoming unusable. And what about the tops, cut to level perfectly the cake layers? Too much cake to eat, at least for me! I then asked myself what I could do with those poor cake crumbles, but also with the double Gruyère cream I had bought in excess (rather than running out an ingredient I have a tendency of buying too much) and the ridiculous amount of eggs I was given by my aunt, who has now taken the habit of delivering about a dozen every week…high cholesterol anyone? Adverse and hostile as I am to cake pops, an option which seems amongst the most popular when it’s up to use leftover, I thought of using the leftovers to flavour a batch of muffins, a sweet recipe which has been missing for quite a while in my column for the Maroggia’s Mill. In fact my last sweet muffins recipe for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook has been the one for Beetroot, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins.
Antinea is a special person. We’ve known each other for little over a year but it is as if it were a life time that we have been friends. It was a mutual friend who introduced her to me. With the impending 35th birthday I thought it would be good for me to start some kind of physical activity to keep fit. Amongst the various options the most popular for women in their thirties seemed to be pilates and talking to Marko it came out that her friend Antinea is pilates instructor. There was a nice vibe from the start and despite my stiffness and the struggle to assimilate her teachings I decided to trust her, committing to exercising and trying to overcome my limits. And so it was. I’m sure that without her there would have been no “Cuochi d’artificio”and I am convinced that pilates has greatly contributed to my physical and psychological well-being, giving me not only a new body but also a new mindset. Perhaps at my age I have finally reached a state of equilibrium and for that I must thank Antinea too.