Baking Around Europe: Italy


ItalyAnother week of Bake Off down, and we’ve become even more engrossed in the world of food! If, like us, you’ve been itching to let your inner chef loose in the kitchen, but you’re in need of some inspiration, we can help!

This week, we’ve taken a look at the home of the pizza, pasta and, one of our personal favourites, Chianti.

In episode three of GBBO 2018, the focus was bread, so we kept it topical with our first baked good on this week’s list:

focacciaFocaccia

You’ve probably all heard of this one. We’re still not great at pronouncing it, but we do love to dip it in a dish of balsamic vinegar!

When searching around for more info on this iconic bread, we were unsurprised to come across one of our favourite Italian chefs: Gino D’Acampo. He describes his recipe for stuffed focaccia with black olives, spinach and mozzarella as being a meal in itself.

It’s considered to be the basis of what we refer to today as pizza. They can  come sweet, as well as savoury, with combinations such as honey, raisins, and lemon and orange peel.

cannoliCannoli

These make the perfect Bake Off challenge, as it looks tricky to keep them precise and consistent, but, when done right, they look beautiful. Cannoli is essentially a tube of fried pastry, shaped something like a brandy snap, and filled with cream. This can typically be made out of ricotta. They are crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

This recipe on BBC Good Food includes the added flavours of pistachios, candied peel and cocoa powder. They sound devine!

aranciniArancini

This is possibly one of our favourites. Arancini is essentially a cheesy rice ball, that’s been coated in bread crumbs and deep-fried. Of course, anything deep-fried is a winner in our books, but the centre is somewhat like a risotto, which brings such a smooth and creamy contrast to the crisp and crunchy outer shell. Often it is also stuffed with other ingredients, such as meat in a Ragu sauce and vegetables.

The name ‘arancini’ means little oranges, quite obviously because of its appearance. Our favourite discovery from doing research about these snacks is that there is a sweet version, which appears during the festival of Saint Lucia in Palermo. They tend to be covered in sugar and cacao, and we’ve even come across recipes that incorporate strawberry jam and orange marmalade. As a man of many talents, it came as no surprise that Jamie Oliver has made available a rather tasty looking arancini recipe.

biscottiBiscotti

This one we have seen on the Bake Off a few times. They love a good biscotti!

This crunchy Italian biscuit can come in many flavours, but the core traditional ingredient is almonds. To dry them out and give them their distinct texture, they are twice-baked. In fact, we’ve read that the Latin origin of the name comes from ‘bis’ (twice) and coctum (baked). Does any food have a more literal description?

The Bake Off man himself, Paul Hollywood, has provided the world with a wonderful recipe for a trio of biscotti. In the method you can see where the twice-baked method comes into play: biscotti is baked as a log, then cut into pieces, before being baked again to crispen up.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of Italian bakes. We’ll be back with another article next week, exploring yet another European country’s wonderful food!

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