Parrozzo: Almond Cake from Abruzzo

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After staring all day at Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano cookbook of Italian desserts (which I highly recommend), I became obsessed with the desire to make one cake, any cake! from the book. It's a tough book to make an impromptu recipe from, since many are laborious and call for at least one special ingredient. I settled on this Parrozzo cake recipe since I had all of the ingredients on hand. Well, except for cake flour, but I could sub regular, no problem!

Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. To start with, I knew I was walking into a potential issue with the AP flour substitute. But ankle deep in the process, I went to add the semolina, and horror! There was a dead bug lying primly on the top. Discard! Now the recipe was pretty much shot. "Forge on," I thought, and added more AP. Whatever, can't be bad, when all the ingredients are good.

For the wet ingredients, I first creamed the butter and sugar as specified in the recipe. Oh, except I used my fork. So for "creamed," read, "mixed a bit." Then I dumped in the rest of the wet ingredients all at once, instead of one at a time as specified in the recipe. It was kinda lumpy.

Gina's recipe also called for adding chopped chocolate to the batter to create a speckled look. She mentioned it looked particularly nice with the yellow from the semolina. Should I break out my cutting board again to chop the chocolate? Eh. It's 8:30pm, and I haven't even eaten dinner yet. Also, without the semolina, this is now a white cake. So no.

I proceeded to add the dry ingredients to the wet. I had added about 3/4 of the flour mix when things started to toughen up. I noticed Gina mentioned that I should "pour" the batter into the cake pan, suggesting a wetter dough than I was looking at here. I decided to stop there and tossed the rest of the flour mix.

Rather than "pour," I forced the batter into submission in the cake pan. There was no way this thing was going to rise. Should I bother with the chocolate glaze? This was now starting to seem more like a bread. I decided to wait to see the finished result before making the glaze.

When the cake was done, I took a bite. Mmm! It was just as I always say: if the ingredients are good, it can't be bad! I'm not sure it was parrozzo, but it was a soft, crumbly, buttery almond biscotti with subtle tones of lemon and vanilla. It would go well with coffee, and it didn't want the chocolate.

And maybe someday I'll make an actual parrozzo.

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