Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
MAKES 16 INDIVIDUAL CAKES
Whenever I travel to various cities, people with the name Esposito ask if I am related to them, and I like to think that we are all related in some cosmic way. In Philadelphia while shooting some footage for Ciao Italia, I did two introductory pieces at Fante's, a wonderful kitchen store in the Italian neighborhood of south Philadelphia. I met Mariella Esposito, who with her brother, Nick Giovanucci, owns the store. You can find just about any cooking item you could ever need, including peach cake molds to make traditional peach cakes. When I spotted the molds I was ecstatic, because so many viewers have asked me to provide a recipe for cakes with a custard filling that look like freshly picked peaches. Here is the recipe, courtesy of Fante's. You will need a peach ball mold, nail heads, and leaves. (Fante's, 1006 South Ninth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, 800-878-5557) You will also need time. I recommend that you make the custard several days ahead and refrigerate it.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons peach brandy or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter, optional
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon peach brandy or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons peach brandy
Small drop red food coloring (optional)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Red and yellow food color to obtain peach color
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour the peach mold and set it aside.
To prepare the dough, in a bowl blend together the butter and the sugar with a hand-held mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Combine the butter and flour mixture, add the milk and brandy, and mix well. Drop 1 heaping teaspoonful of the batter into each peach cake cavity.
Bake for 12 minutes, during which time you can grease and flour the nail heads. As the cakes are baking, a slight white crust will begin to form. Insert the nail head cup down into the center of each cake and bake for 2 or 3 minutes longer. The nail heads form the pit area of the peaches.
The cakes are done as soon as they start to pull away from the edge of the cavity. Remove the mold from the oven before the edges of the cakes begin to brown. This will give the best coloration results.
Combine all the custard ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking continuously until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Transfer the custard to a bowl and cover it with a sheet of buttered wax paper and allow it to cool.
Remove the peach cakes from the mold and remove the nail heads.
In a small bowl combine the gelatin with water as directed on the package. Stir in the brandy and food coloring. Set aside.
Using a toothpick or small brush, add color streaks to the center (pit) of each peach cake with a little food coloring.
Brush the insides of the caked with the coloring mixture.
Fill the pit with about 1 teaspoon of the custard and join two halves together, positioning them slightly off center to form the peach.
Brush the outside of the cake with the gelatin mixture, being careful not to soak them too much. This will give them a light color, and when dry, some firmness.
In another small bowl combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, and a drop of red and yellow food coloring. Mix the ingredients together to obtain a peach color.
Roll the peaches in the colored sugar coating mixture, pressing gently to allow the sugar to adhere. This will bring out the coloration.
Insert a paper, plastic, or edible leaf and allow the cakes to dry before serving.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA — BRINGING ITALY HOME by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2001.