Today I prepared a cake that belongs to the North Eastern Italian rural simple tradition: the “stale bread pinza” (pinza di pane). If you research online you’d find many recipes for “pinza veneta”, even related to different Italian regions (Veneto, Friuli, Trentino), but the truth is every northern easter family probably has its very own Pinza Veneta recipe also because it’s a kind of “leftover cake”, made to recycle whatever ingredients would else be wasted.
The most original Italian Pinza cake is prepared for the Epiphany, because the recipe calls for nuts and dried fruits that usually are gifted between Italian families during the holidays. The batter of the cake is traditionally made with polenta (or stale bread), enriched with dried fruit and nuts and flavored with snaps (grappa), but most recent versions containes also chocolate chips or orange/lemon zest, depending on tastes. The consistency of Pinza Veneta with stale bread is kind of fudgy, wet and dense.
Pinza Veneta with Stale bread is the perfect cake to prepare when you already have a ton of home-made breadcrumbs and you don’t care about eating pizzette for dinner, so you decide to recycle some stale bread by baking this sweet but not too sweet dessert. It’s rich in flavor even if made with simple ingredients, it’s ideal for breakfast bur also for afternoon snack or tea break. The method is so easy: after soaking the bread in milk, you mush it and mix with all the other basics ingredients (butter, eggs, sugar) and flavoring ingredients (raisins, figs, nuts, chocolate) and bake for 50 minutes.
INGREDIENTS for a 8’’ x 12’’ (20×30 cm) cake pan
3 oz. (90 gr.) raisins
1 lb. (450 gr.) stale bread
2 cup milk
1 oz. (40 gr.) pine nuts
3 tbs (40 gr.) soften butter
3 eggs yolk
1 lemon zest
2 tsp. baking powder
½ cup (100 gr.) cup sugar
¾ cup (150 gr.) all purpose flour
Optional: 4 tbs snaps (Italian grappa)
Optional: 2 tsp. cinnamon
Soak the raisins in a cup of warm water for at list 30 minutes. At the same time cut the stale bread in cubes and soak it in the milk for at least 15 minutes being careful to stir/mush it every now and then until it looks like baby food.
When the bread is mushy (looks like baby food) add lemon zest, egg yolks, butter, flour, baking powder, cinnamon (optional), snaps and mix evenly. Add then pine nuts and raisins (drained). Again, mix evenly.
Move the batter in an oven pan lined with paper and bake at 350 F (170 C.) for about 50 minutes.
Let it cool off and serve!
LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!
- If it seems like the milk it’s not enough to soak all the bread, just add a few more tbs. a little bit a time.
- As I do often, I added an extra ingredient to the recipe (cinnamon) which absolutely doesn’t not belong in the Italian tradition, but that in my opinion truly gives it a kick. Of course, it’s optional so I let to you the choice to add it. Also, I didn’t have dried figs so I opted for pine nuts instead.
- Pinza Veneta last up to three days at room temperature wrapped in plastic paper. I love to toast it in the toaster for a minute of two before eating it with my morning latte.
I really hope you like this recipe, it’s not by chance that I posted it right before Easter.. In this historic period we should all take a step back and return to a more simple life, and this rural simple cake will bring you back in time, will make you live for a moment the poor lives of the farmers after the II World War, will make you appreciate the small things in this modern consumerist life.
HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!
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