The Italian Baker: Bringing A Little Piece of Italy into the Kitchen

This summer I got to spend a little time in the North of Italy in the cities: Venice, Florence, and Milan. I loved eating my way through the streets and finding the best eats. When I got back to the states, I decided to see if I could recreate a little piece of Italy into my kitchen. Thankfully after many afternoons in the local library, I found the recipe book that I was going to use to relive Italy with. It was called The Italian Baker by Carol Field. This book is jam pack full of recipes from every coast of Italy. These recipes were focused in on the wonderful breads, tarts, cakes, and other baked goodies. So who can resist trying a few?

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I always start my mornings recently with a raisin bagel and cream cheese. So the first recipe that caught my eye was the raisin bread that was jam packed with raisins. So I set about one Sunday afternoon to create this delicacy for my morning breakfast that week. It was simple enough to follow and I only needed to swap molasses for the malt they asked for since I couldn’t find malt. I steeped the raisins in water for several hours and then wait for the first and second proof. he bread becomes this nice caramel color while baking away in the oven. This was by far best recipe I tried and I have plans to be making this all winter long. It was sweet when you bit into the raisin but had nice structure within the slice. The crust had a nice crack, It was so good. It had vanished in 4 days…

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There was a birthday over the weekend for my family so I decided to try to make an Italian Spice Cake. It had raisins, coco, espresso, and a complex spice mix. I topped my slice with a rum whipped cream to compliment the sweet and decadent taste. This cake was not my favorite cake. It has in part to do with the expresso used. I am not the biggest expresso fan unless I can drown it in cream and sugar so the expresso taste was strong. I also found the texture of the cake different since It crumbled with every slice of the knife since it was dry. I may have to toy with the recipe before I am content with the results. However, I did like that it was different to the traditional American cake we typically have for birthday celebrations.

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This was some monster bread! It was called the Big Rustic Italian loaf. Carol should have been called this loaves instead of loaf and big was an understatement. I made this batch from the universal starter for bread presented at the front of the book and can be seen to the left in the background photo. This bread took about 2 days from starter to final product. Despite the giant size, it was easy to put together and follow the recipe despite the amateur skill of my bread making. (I have no bread skill actually) I loved the texture of the bread. I also loved the fluffy inside that made it perfect for making sandwiches. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish all the loaves before they went bad on day 6. Since the bread has no preservative, it goes bad quickly. So for future references, after your loaves cool put the two loaves that you are not going to eat in Ziploc bags in the freezer. You can deforest and toast the loaves when you are ready to finish them off.

I think I gained 10 pounds testing these recipes but found this recipe book, The Italian Baker, a perfect way to add complex unusual recipes to your baking know-hows. I think I may try a few more recipes before turning this book back into the library. You never know what recipes I will try to master or sample next. What recipes will you try? Are you an Italian baker?

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