This past Christmas, M whipped up a mean Osso Buco and served it over Risotto Milanese. Braised slowly for hours, the end result was aromatic and tender. But, I’m not writing about that, except to say that it was out-of-this-world delicious.
I’m here to write about my challenge. What would dessert be? I wanted it to be Italian, in keeping with the dinner’s theme. Tiramisu was too obvious, so I regrettably passed on that. And, although I could eat frozen desserts year round, it was just too cold for gelato.
I finally settled on a Bolognese polenta and apple cake called Bustrengo. It was not an easy sell for me. Breadcrumbs, polenta and dried fruit in a cake? It sounded too much like a dried out fruitcake. But, I persevered.
The cake was super moist – an Italian version of bread pudding and a perfect ending to our Italian Christmas.
Bustrengo – Polenta and Apple Cake
adapted from Jamie’s Italy
• a knob of butter
• 3½oz polenta
• 200g/7oz plain flour, sifted
• 100g/3½oz stale breadcrumbs
• 100g/3½oz caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
• 500ml/18fl oz full fat milk
• 3 large free-range eggs, preferably organic, beaten
• 100g/3½oz runny honey
• 55ml/2fl oz olive oil
• 100g/3½oz dried dates, chopped or torn up
• 100g/3½oz raisins or sultanas
• 500g/1lb 2oz firm eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly diced
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• zest of 2 oranges
• zest of 2 lemons
• 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and butter a shallow 28cm/11 inch, loose-bottomed cake tin. Mix the polenta, flour, breadcrumbs and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, honey and olive oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, making sure you stir it all together well. Add the dates, raisins, apples, cinnamon, orange and lemon zest and salt, and stir again.
Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for about 50 minutes. Keep an eye on it – you may need to cover it with some foil if you find that it starts to brown too much at the edges. Before serving, sprinkle over some caster sugar. Then make sure you eat it warm – lovely with a dollop of crème fraîche and a glass of vin santo!