Modena's Classic Noodle Cake

Torta di Tagliatelline di Modena

Mary Ann Esposito

SERVES 8 TO 10

The classic torta di tagliatelline (noodle cake) from Modena was known in the eighteenth century. The clever use of thinly cut uncooked pasta provides an interesting texture and look. The torta is best eaten the day it is made. Use a food processor to prepare the pastry and pasta doughs. Several other steps can be done the day before to save time; line the pan and have all the filling ingredients measured out.

The tagliatelline, which are thinner than tagliatelle, should be made just before filling the pastry so they remain damp and are not brittle. Using a 9-inch pan will result in a slightly higher torta, but I prefer the thinner look achieved with a 10-inch pan.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE PASTA DOUGH FOR TAGLIATELLINE
2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE PASTRY DOUGH
1 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg

FOR THE FILLING
4 ounces slivered blanched almonds, processed to a powder
4 ounces mixed candied fruit peels, diced
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup light cream

DIRECTIONS

Butter a 9- or 10 1/2- 3-inch-deep springform pan, dust it with flour, and set aside.

For the pastry dough, place the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until the butter is reduced to bits. Add the egg and process until the mixture begins to form a ball. Remove the dough from the work bowl, shape it into a disk, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

With a rolling pin, roll the pastry dough out on a floured surface into an 18-inch-diameter round and line the springform pan, bringing the dough 2 inches up the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the pasta dough, crack the eggs into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to break up. With the motor running, add the flour and salt. Allow the dough to form a ball that is moist but does not stick to your hands. If slightly sticky, do not add additional flour, as the dough will be rolled out on a floured surface. If the dough appears too dry and crumbly, add a few drops of water.

Gather up the pasta dough and knead it on a lightly floured surface until it is soft and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover the dough with a bowl and let rest for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the almonds, candied peels, sugar, and cocoa together. In a large bowl, whisk the butter, eggs, and cream together until blended. Stir the almond mixture into the butter mixture, blending well. Set aside.

Divide the pasta dough in half and work with one half at a time, keeping the piece you are not working with covered. Roll and cut the dough on a hand-crank pasta machine, using the vermicelli cut for the tagliatelline. Or roll and cut by hand. Lay the tagliatelline on floured kitchen towels as you make them, keeping them separated so that they do not clump together.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Scatter one third of the tagliatelline over the bottom of the pastry-lined springform pan. Carefully spread the filling over the top. Scatter the remaining tagliatelline evenly over the top of the filling. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the top of the pan. Butter the paper and place it over the top of the torta.

Bake until a cake skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the pasta is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes for a 10-inch pan and 35 to 40 minutes for a 9-inch pan. Halfway through the baking process, remove and discard the parchment paper. Transfer the torta to a cooling rack and cool completely before releasing the spring. Carefully slide the torta from the base onto a serving dish. Cut into thin wedges.

Note: I find homemade candied peels far superior to store-bought. The recipe follows. Candied peels can be made several months in advance.

item recipe is featured in Episode 0 of Season 0.

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