Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tour of Italy ~ Day 28... Trentino - Alto Adige

We are starting to wind down our tour of Italy, which means that it is getting to be dessert time. The Trentino - Alto Adige regions were linked together in 1948 and because they use to belong to the Austro-Hungarian empire and because of the German influences, their regional cusine is the least recognized as Italian foods. They are known more for their breads and dumplings (Knodeln). Pork is the popular meats of choice there and desserts like strudel and fruit filled crepes fill every corner of the area. Zelten is the traditional dessert prepared in Trentino - Alto Adige regions. The name comes from the German word "selten", which means "seldom" since it is baked only in this special occasion which is Christmas and is usually eaten just before Midnight mass. But now you will find it often in most restaurants and culinary bakeries in this region.

Dried Fruit and Nut Cake (Zelten)

13 dry figs
1 cup walnuts
2/3 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
6 tablespoons grappa, brandy or  rum
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 2/3 cup white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Cut dry figs in little strips, chop walnuts. Soak raisins in hot water for 10 and drain.
Put these figs in a large bowl, add raisins, the rest of the nuts and the rum. Let this fruit compound macerate for at least 30 to an hour. In the meantime separate the yolks from the egg whites. Beat the yolks with half sugar, till they get  light and frothy. Melt the butter in a kettle. Add this melted butter to the eggs, stirring well. Add the macerated fruits, a glass of lukewarm water or milk (I used milk), continuing to stir. At this point add the sifted flour and baking powder. In another bowl beat the egg whites until stiff with the rest of the sugar and add them gently to  the dough. Pour the paste into a oven dish (20x25 cm) previously buttered and sprinkled with flour. Decorate with additional nuts as desired. Brush the surface with a yolk and bake at 160 C for about 90 minutes. If the surface gets too brown, cover with an aluminium foil, riddling it with a fork (to let the steam go out).

I like this recipe as part of our "Thrifty Thursday" Challenges because you can actually use any dried fruits or nuts that you have in the Pantry. Also, There is a great step by step instructions website here... How to make Zelten

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