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.
http://www.academiabarilla.com/italian-recipes/step-step-recipes/parrozzo-chocolate-covered-cake.aspx

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