– Grape Harvest Cake from Tuscany –
For more than 8 years now, Jo and I have been visiting Florence once and even twice a year, but still we have not managed to be there during September for the Grape Harvest time. We always dream and talk about driving out into the Tuscan Country Side during that time and participate in the actual harvest, taking endless photographs, help everybody sampling the wine (!) of course and eat their delicious ‘Schiacciate con l’Uva’, which will mainly be eaten only during that time.
I know, Kerala is not exactly Tuscany, End of November is not September, wine….. oh forget wine for a moment, but at least our sweet little blue Grapes, which have now appeared slowly on all the fruit stalls all over the city, are very similar to the Tuscan grapes……small, sweet and full of seeds!
This cake (some refer to it also as ‘bread’) is actually very quick and easy to make. The only delay here in gobbling up your finished product is….. the seeds have to come out!! Don’t let it put you off from making this, after all it only took me around 30 minutes to deal with 1 kg of grapes.
When our friend Maria-Rosa in Florence heard of our dilemma she smiled and just said “ok, come for Coffee in two days”. So, two days later we went to “Mannelli” on the Ponte Vecchio to have Coffee with her and some friends and to our absolute delight she produced her home-made ‘Schiacciate con l’Uva’. And ever since I am making this little cake every year around this time – but I confess, it never lasted for very long.
Here now is her recipe for you to share with me.
You will need:
1 kg of the sweetest and juiciest blue grapes you can find, washed
200 g of white flour
1 large egg, very slightly beaten
½ sachet of baking powder
2-4 large sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp of dried rosemary)
150 g walnuts, smashed into small pieces
110 ml extra virgin olive oil
150 g light brown sugar, reserve some for sprinkling over the top.
Preheat oven to 175 C
In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and the egg.
Heat up Olive Oil in separate pan on slow heat. Add Rosemary ‘needles’, stir for a few seconds only, until aroma tickles your nostrils. Ahhhh, inhale that delicious smell.
Add hot rosemary oil into the flour. Mix everything together. It is best to use your clean hands in order to work in the grapes and the nuts, popping some of the grapes between your fingers.
Line a baking dish with baking paper or butter the dish well and still using only your hands spread the mixture evenly.
Sprinkle some sugar over this mixture.
Now pop the cake into the pre-heated oven for 45 – 60 minutes (maximum).
Allow your cake to rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting.
Taking out all the seeds is worth the effort
When popping the grapes watch out – they do like jumping on your clothes, especially if you happen to wear ‘white’. (Jo just said while proof-reading “In your case, any dress will do!). Cheeky-so-and-so. 🙂
Experiment with the amount of rosemary ‘needles’ you want to use. Above measurements are the ones I use in my kitchen.
You can have a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side, if you so wish.
This is not a very photogenic dish to produce, but I will be surprised if you would not want to make it again and again.