Oct 23, 2012

Paradise cake

Torta Paradiso - in Italian, sounds good either way. This is one of the Italian classics. It is very popular with bambini, they like simple desserts.

I saw the making of the cake on RaiUno, in the La Prova del Cuoco show, which I watch and enjoy quite regularly. I've made similar Italian cakes before, they were perfect for Hania's birthday parties, with some decorating, really impressive.

Torta Paradiso, I made on Sunday...and I messed up. Do I want to talk about it..? Ok, the main thing was, that on tv they did everything fast, and then took the ready cake out of the oven. So I did it too. But the cake actually required more prep time: more mixing, more beating. It did not use any raising agent, so the mixing and beating times and methods were crucial.

So I repeated it today. I just took it out of the oven. It's delicious! Is warm cake bad for you?

The Paradise cake melts in you mouth, like no other cake. It has a delicate buttery and lemony taste. It's rich and moist but light and airy.  Uff, I was a bit nervous, looking in the oven window. Once I saw the cake raising, I had a feeling I did it right.

Hania gave it her two thumbs up!

The list of ingredients is very simple: butter, sugar, eggs, flours, lemon. The proportions are easy to remember. Facile!

Recipe adapted from La Prova del Cuoco

time: 20 min preparation + 50 min baking

300 g (2/3 pound) butter + extra for the form
300 g (1 1/2 cups) sugar
8 egg yolks
3 egg whites
zest from 1 lemon
150 g (1 cup) regular flour
150 g (1 cup) potato flour (starch)
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180 C/360 F (fan forced function). Butter a 26 cm (10 inch)  round baking form. 24 cm (9 inch) will require about 5 min longer in the oven. The thicker the cake, the more time in the oven. 

In a bowl (of a standing mixer), melt butter over hot water. Don't let it get hot, the water should never boil. Let the butter cool. Put the bowl back on the stand. Add egg yolks and sugar and beat it on high speed using a whisk attachment, about 5 min. Add the lemon zest.

In medium bowl, mix the two flours together. 

In another clean bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt. Don't overbeat it. The ready whites should be smooth and glossy, not grainy and dull.

Once the butter mix is ready, sift in the flours. Mix them or fold them in (I tried both ways with the same result) till all combined. Now, using a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites slowly and gently. Don't over do it. It's better to under-do-it.

Pour the batter in the form. Transfer to the hot oven and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, till the toothpick from the middle of the cake comes out clean and the house smells good.

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