Torta Paesana, Village Cake, is a cake quite dense and moist in texture yet very soft, whose principle was and still is to use leftovers. It is a cake from Lombardy region, Northern Italy and more precisely from the Brianza area.
Each family in Brianza preserves its own recipe which differs by a few ingredients from the recipe of the other families, but besides from these variations, the main ingredients of Torta Paesana are stale bread, milk and cocoa, that’s why it is also called Torta Nera (Black Cake) or Torta di Latte (Milk Cake) or Torta di Pane (Bread Cake). Someone nowadays also add Amaretti biscuits or simple dry biscuits (or both of them) and even some candied fruit.
Another very similar version is with apples and walnuts but without cocoa. You can find it here : stale-bread-and-apple-cake/
Serves: 4 – (fills a Ø24 cm cake mould), Preparation 30 mins, Cooking 50 to 60 mins
- 1 litre of milk
- about 300 g stale bread
- 150 g of Amaretti biscuits, chopped or 200 g dry biscuits, chopped
- 2 heaped tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 30 g raisins
- 1 beaten egg
- 120 g caster sugar
- Optional, a handful of candied fruit or grated orange zest
- 50 g pine nuts
- Butter and breadcrumbs to taste for the baking tin
- To garnish: caster sugar and a few pine nuts
Soak the raisins in a small bowl of lukewarm water for about 20 minutes, then squeeze them and set aside.
Cut the stale bread into small pieces. Bring the milk to the boil then remove it from the heat. While it is still hot, add the dry bread pieces, the crumbled Amaretti biscuits, cocoa powder, the spoonful of sugar and let it rest for 20 mins.
Stir everything together with a wooden spoon mixing well until you get a rather dense cream.
Combine the beaten egg, the soaked and squeezed raisins and the pine nuts, set aside some for the final garnish. If you have some candied citrus fruit, you can add it too.
Tip: pine nuts do not have to be toasted.
Grease a cake tin and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs. Pour in the mixture, scatter with a handful of caster sugar and decorate with a few pine nuts on top.
Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350 F/ GAS 4.
Bake in a preheated static oven 50 to 60 mins. Once cooked, leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Tip: worry not if the cake seems too soft, it will solidify as it cools down.
How to store Torta Paesana?
When the outside temperature is cold, you can store it at room temperature covered with a plate, it will last for about 4-5 days. If it’s warm, put it in the fridge for about 3 days.