Last Friday I was crouched on the couch looking through Sigrid‘s book in search of inspiration, trying to find the right recipe that could describe my mood in a few well chosen ingredients. Grandma was in the kitchen and I could ear the clatter of dishes from the lunch, Claudia was studying for her university exam just in front of me, bent on the very same table where I spent the best years of my youth translating Greek and Latin authors.
I came back to the time of the afternoon snack, which has now been replaced by a quick coffee in the office or a penitential and masochistic fasting when I’m at home… when I was really young, and still an only child, I used to watch cartoons on tv after my homeworks with a slice of bread topped with jam, a cup of tea and Mickey Mouse comics in my hands (I’ve always been multi-tasking, since a very young age!).
Then things changed: growing up, the afternoon snack became tea and biscuits or a slice of grandma cake, made for Claudia, who was a terrific picky when she was a child and did not want to eat anything! In the background, the very same old video of little children singing (the Zecchino d’Oro choir) played continuously for months, each and every afternoon, even without skipping commercials!
The sisters grew up again, and now they study together one next to the other at the same table: for Claudia there was the trouble of learning to read or playing with numbers, for me Greek classics, Roman historians and the birth of love for English Literature. Even if the day after there was a test of philosophy and a multiple choice test of Greek literature, five o’ clock in the afternoon was tea time, mum and grandma sitted together with us, three generations gathered around the same table to dip cookies in hot tea and talk friendly about the day.
Looking back at these moments, my eyes fell on this sentence
…flavours are simple but intense, a real cake made for the afternoon snack when we were kids, perfect for a regressive afternoon tea, when it rains outside… (p. 240)
and instantly I chose the recipe. Ten minutes and the cake was baking in the oven… Give to the cake the time to cool down and let it rain outside, a summer cloudburst, and we again gathered around the same table sipping a cup of tea with a slice of buckwheat cake.
- buckwheat flour, 180 gr
- flour 00, 100 gr
- softened unsalted butter, 240 gr
- sugar, 200 gr
- egg yolks, 4
- whole egg, 1
- rum, 3 tablespoon (I used instead sweet wine, suitable for chocolate, they say)
- vanilla salt, 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon of milk
Beat softened butter with a whisk until it is light and creamy. Add sugar and keep on whisking. Combine egg yolks, the egg, liquor and salt, beating well. Finally fold in flour and mix just to get a smooth dough.
Butter a round pie mould of 21 cm (I used instead a rectangular mould of 10 x 35), pour in the mixture, flatten the dough roughly and brush it with an egg yolk beaten with milk. With a fork, draw a grate on the cake surface. Sprinkle with a pinch of fine vanilla salt and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes or until golden. Let cool completely before serving.
Response. Good. Simple as a glass of milk. Perfumed and fragrant as freshly baked bread. The texture reminds me of a Scottish shortbread, but softer and with the dominant rough and rich sensation given by buckwheat flour, enlivened by the presence of salt.