skip to Main Content

Artichoke and stale bread cake. Make room in your Easter picnic basket for this!

We have a saying in Italy: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi, that can be roughly translated into stay with your family for Christmas and choose your company for Easter. Christmas is a family institution, you don’t even ask yourself what you will do, because you know that you’ll spend that special day with your relatives. Don’t even try to arrange other plans.

Easter is a different matter: you are almost free to choose where and how you will spend that day. With the help of the warm season, it’s easy to opt for friends and picnics. On Pasquetta, Easter Monday, you start arranging time and place with your friends. Pot luck lunches or barbecues, walks in the countryside or in the nearby mountains are often on the list. This is quite a new habit for me, a grown up habit, and I enjoy every single aspect of the planning of Pasquetta. Needless to say that my favourite moment is deciding what to put into the picnic basket!

Artichoke and stale bread cake

Today with the other girls of the Italian Table Talk we’ll see which food Italians usually put into that picnic basket: simple, seasonal and easy to be packed, spring vegetables from artichokes to fava beans are a must, along with good cheese, salame and prosciutto and bread, declined in all its shapes. In Tuscany raw fava beans, pecorino and salame are always present.

Emiko made a torta salata di carciofi, Valeria is using the delicate white asparagus with eggs for a seasonal preparation and Jasmine gathered all the favourite ingredients of a picnic to make a rice salad with spring veggies and cheese.

I was talking about recipes with Lucia, my boyfriend’s mum, and she told me I had to make this recipe from Puglia, focaccia di carciofi. It is not what you would expect form a focaccia: don’t look for a flat bread, since it is a typical savoury cake made with stale bread and artichokes.

Artichoke and stale bread cake  Artichoke and stale bread cake

Lucia is from Salento in Puglia and has already given me a lot of recipes which make the best out of poor ingredients or leftovers, like in the Tuscan tradition. You should have now understood, after a few years of friendship and softly whispered or strongly recommended recipes that I love stale bread, I love the idea of using it till the last crumb not to throw it away. I’ve made panzanella, pappa al pomodoro and even a now new favourite bread pudding cake, but this was the first time I heard about a similar recipe.

You cook down the artichokes with a good extra virgin olive oil and a clove of garlic. Now that it is in season, choose fresh garlic for a milder flavour. In the meantime  you soak the stale bread until soft, then you squeeze it just like when you make panzanella. Squeeze it well, remove the excess water, then mix into the already cooked artichokes. Now comes the time of giving flavour to this cake: Parmigiano Reggiano for some saltiness, fresh herbs like parsley and mint for colour and freshness. A few beaten eggs will bind everything together and help you create a golden crust.

The result after one hour of baking is beyond imagination: crisp on the outside, it keeps a moist and almost melting centre, where all the flavours have perfectly mingled. Brace yourself and wait until warmish, when it will give its best. As an ideal picnic food it can be enjoyed even when cold. Cut out small pieces, wrap them in parchment paper and use a nice kitchen string to keep it closed.

Make room in your Easter picnic basket and enjoy the artichoke and stale bread cake under the shadow of an old oak tree.

Artichoke and stale bread cake

A few words about the ingredients and the preparation:

  • stale bread: use a good sourdough or crusty bread, not the packed white bread otherwise it won’t soak properly and it will just melt in the water. Our bread, when stale and soaked, gets really elastic and becomes like a sponge and you can later squeeze it and have beautiful soft crumbs.
  • artichokes: I used a local kind of artichokes known as Moretti. They are not too big and have a charming wine red colour. Check this Saveur article about Artichoke varieties, mine looked like the oblong siena.
  • cleaning the artichokes: this is probably one of the most important steps, because you want to remove all the dark outer leaves and the spiky tops before cooking the artichokes. You probably already know how to clean them properly, but if it is your first time, check this interesting post with step by step instructions.
Print this recipe
5 from 1 vote

Focaccia di carciofi - Artichoke and stale bread cake

Course Main, Lunch box
Cuisine Italian, Apulian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Lucia

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 10 artichokes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic
  • 750 ml of warm water
  • 300 g of stale bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions

  • Prepare a large bowl of cold water and squeeze one lemon in it. Add the squeezed lemon inside the bowl. Now you can clean the artichokes: snap off the dark green hard outer leaves until only the pale and tender inner leaves remain. Cut off the spiky top of the artichoke. Keep a few centimeters of the stem and trim any dark parts around the bottom. Rub each artichoke with the squeezed lemon and drop them into the lemon water to prevent them from darkening.
  • Warm a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil with a clove of fresh garlic in a large pan on medium heat, add the finely trimmed artichokes and stir with a wooden spoon to cover them with olive oil. Pour the warm water and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the artichokes are tender.
  • In the meanwhile break the bread in pieces and soak it in cold water for a few minutes.
  • When the artichokes are ready pour them into a big bowl, add the perfectly squeezed bread, the eggs previously beaten, the grated Parmigiano, the chopped parsley and fresh mint and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add a glug of extra virgin olive oil and mix thoroughly.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil at the bottom of a baking tray (I used a nonstick 37 x 27 baking tray) and scoop the bread and the artichokes inside. Press it gently with a fork and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top.
  • Bake for about 55 minutes, until golden on top. Serve warm or cold.
Tried this recipe?We love to see your creations! Snap a pic and tag @julskitchen and hashtag it #myseasonaltable!

Link love

Not to lose a single post by the Italian Table talk girls, these are our Social Accounts:

The hashtag to follow the conversation on Italian Table talk on Twitter is #ITabletalk (easy, isn’t it?) and you can find us also on our Facebook page Italian Table talk.

Sharing is caring:
This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. Simple ingredients and simple flavours, and yet the outcome is so special! As I mentioned on Emiko’s blog, I simply love artichokes, and anything with them appeals to me. This is another of those things I wouldn’t be able to stop eating.

  2. Hello,

    Love this recipe. If I am using already prepared artichokes (marinated in olive oil in a jar), how much should I be using?

    thank you.

    1. Hello Kajal! Your artichokes sounds delicious! I would add them to the bread, as cooked artichokes. The flavour might be slightly different, but nonetheless amazing!

  3. Juls

    I am confused….is this a bread pudding? I see you are serving this in slices…..so you baked in a loaf pan?

    Also, I see black olives in the bread…..but not on the ingredient list……would love to make this, I have lots of stale bread!

    Grazie,
    Stacey

  4. Hello Stacey! This looks more like a focaccia, not a loaf bread. Bake it in a baking dish, not in a loaf pan.
    The black spots you see are pieces of artichokes, not black olives! Try it, you’ll love it!

  5. Do the artichokes you use have no chokes (the fuzzy center above the heart)? The instructions don’t mention removing it or chopping the artichokes — shouldn’t that be done?

    Thanks – I have a bumper crop of artichokes this year and would like to try thin!
    ****

    Fare i carciofi che si utilizzano non hanno induttanze (il centro sfocata sopra il cuore)? Le istruzioni non menzionano la rimozione o tagliare i carciofi – non dovrebbe che essere fatto?

    Grazie – Ho un raccolto eccezionale di carciofi quest’anno e vorrebbe provare sottile!

  6. OK. So I am the ‘wimp’ of the bunch. My question is can you use frozen or jarred artichokes? Here in Coral Gables artichokes cost a fortunate ……. On another note I did make the Rustici. No cheats there. However I did freeze them. Will snap a pix when I serve them to my cousins.

    Also, I requested the recipe for Pasticiotto ( the cream filled pastry). Are you able to send that. My childhood memories of that are so strong and I have never seen a recipe for this wonderful Southern Italian pastry. Grazie

    1. Hello Lisa, I guess you can use frozen artichokes, too! it must work well!
      I pasted two interesting links to the pasticciotti under your comment in the other recipe: I’ve never made pasticciotti, but I trust those two recipes!


  7. Just made this for breakfast at our B+B and it was delicious as well as easy to make. I’ll reheat tomorrow and serve with an egg on top!
    Perfect picnic food too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top
×Close search
Search