When Larry Cooked Like a Real Italian

Olive-Oil-Cake_thumb.jpgMontone, Umbria, Italy — Our cooking class instructor assured us this was THE Umbrian recipe to master – a lemony olive oil cake. Chef Judith Klinger of Aroma Cucina put Larry to work in her killer Italian kitchen in Montone. Husband/partner Jeff Albucher was attentive dishwasher, bartender and M.C., regaling us in Umbrian history and local gossip. Yes, YOU CAN have this experience, too.

Go to Jude and Jeff’s Aroma Cucina website. Then, if you want to know our Umbrian travel details, go here. I know you really want a recipe, published way below the photos.

This class, I played photojournalist. Larry groused a tad that he was doing all the work, yet never handed me the whisk; from my perspective, he was perfectly ok doing it all (correction: Judith was doing it and Larry was following her instruction).

We were Really Italian this day. First, coffee. Then, shop. Followed by hours of engaging food prep. A walk to the garden for greens. Some wine. Stretching the pasta. Filling the house with incredible aromas. Dining on the rooftop terrace. Drinking more wine. Watching storm clouds and lightning in the distance. Watching them get closer. Watching them get REALLY CLOSE.  Drinking more. Laughing. Uh oh, quickly getting all the food, wine and dishware back into the house before being killed by lightning. SO GREAT.

So, onto the cooking class — Larry learned to bake and cook by weight, not volume. Using a scale, he zeroed out the weight of the bowl, then measured in the flour. Zeroed the scale again and poured in sugar. When time to add milk and olive oil, the measuring vessel was an espresso cup.  So Italian!

He was on his way to making a classic Italian olive oil pound cake (recipe below), then fresh pasta for an asparagus lasagna, plus mind-blowing pancetta with crispy fried sage leaves, and uber-fresh salad.

His result: a showstopper cake, the pride dessert of Umbrian home bakers, the recipe you learn to do in your sleep. One ingredient isn’t easy to find here in the states, so the next time you pass an Italian grocery store, pick up this vanilla flavored baking agent, Paneangeli.

If you aren’t ready to bake by weight, here is a Citrusy Olive Oil Cake with Limoncello Drizzle we made a few years ago in another cooking class.

1 meet for coffee

3 cheese

4 pork belly

5 Judith at door

6 fresh pasta

7 baked by weight

11 garden

10 lasagna

12 pancetta

14 la vida dolce

Italian Lemony Olive Oil Cake As Baked Like An Italian

  • 600 g. tender flour
  • 400 g. sugar
  • 1 package Paneangeli leavening agent
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 espresso cups milk
  • 2 espresso cups olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, measure together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar and Paneangeli.  Blend with a whisk.

In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: eggs, milk, olive oil, lemon zest and juice.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix together – “be efficient but quick.”

Line a 10-inch x 2 1/2 inch deep cake pan with parchment paper.  Oil the paper.

Pour the batter into the pan.  Bake like an Italian – “until it’s done.”  (That’s approximately 40 minutes, turned once inside the oven.)  Use a toothpick to determine it’s ready.  Gorgeous!

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