Baking

Jujube Polenta Cookies

A few things have happened since I last wrote here. The biggest news is that we’ve left London for the time being. I’ll be staying at my family home in the Venetian countryside for a little while. Leaving my day job, moving from London back to my village seemed a tad daunting at first, but I’ve been making the most of this newly found spare time by doing all the things that I love doing: cooking and reading, mostly. But also, exploring my home region of Veneto further and deeper, writing, and taking precious notes for projects that are materialising on the horizon.
The garden at our family home is exploding with the best autumnal colours, and with a few edible delights – pomegranates and jujubes. You might have caught sight of a jujube shrub or tree before; for one, they are very widespread in Veneto. Traditionally used as ornamental plants, locals slowly began to appreciate them for their fruits, which they would use to make confectionery and liqueurs.

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Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake

We have been settling into January at the slowest possible pace, trying to hold onto that feeling we brought back from Italy. Calm. Peace of mind. It didn’t last long – back to work and all that jazz – but we still managed to keep weekends on the resting side after all. There was a lot of sitting around, a lot of cookbook flipping, some reading and some walking. There was a lot of baking, too.

This cake is what we baked the most, by far. It’s nothing fancy, really, but it reminds me of the cake my mum used to make when I was little – that silly-easy cake (the only one she knew how to make, really) that takes a pot of yoghurt as a measuring unit. it’s a classic, but also, a cake that bears some uniqueness – in its aroma as much as in its backstory.

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Multigrain Cookies (Grancereale Recipe)

Whenever I say I grew up in a tiny village in the Venetian countryside, people start to make assumptions, and I don’t blame them. It must sound like the best place to land on this planet. Although it has its charming traits and its good sides, there are quite a few myths to debunk about my childhood.

For starters, there were no kids – only four of us in my class in primary school. Four. Which means a) any team game was automatically a bummer and lasted very shortly, and b) I had to do the maths and the grammar at the blackboard every single day. And what is worse, I had no one to exchange or share my food with. On the break between classes (intervallo), when kids were allowed to eat a snack and run around, I would eat whatever my mum had put in the little zipper pocket of my Cartoon-branded backpack without a chance to trade it with someone else. Statistically speaking, four people were simply not enough. Not that anybody would have wanted to trade their food with mine anyway, and the reason for this takes me to the second myth.

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Ottolenghi’s Chocolate Babka (Krantz)

We have been lucky this year, they say. Two full months and more of really good weather. It has been indeed a marvellous season. Perhaps exactly for this reason, or maybe because I
spent most of it working or having a good time, it literally slipped from my hands.

These empty hands I have, I am trying to fill with something which feels like a project. I try to line up thoughts, ideas, and bits of inspiration that only idle time outdoor could give me, and finally sit down to build something new. More than January and the actual start of the year, it is autumn the perfect time to give me purpose; September the month which marks a new beginning.

As the days become considerably shorter, and the mist and the wind and the rain awake me from my midsummer dream, I retire back in the cosy warmth of a home heated by an oven. Weekends are no longer occasions for spending time outside – being it playing tourists at home, or lounging in the park, going to a festival or crossing town to enjoy some street food at one of the many amazing markets. Rather, free days are consumed inside, giving time to long-neglected activities which required more attention than the summer version of myself could possibly give. One of these is baking – the other, writing.

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Venetian Raisin Buns

raisin buns raisin_buns-3

Raisin buns appear in some of my sweetest childhood memories. Every now and then, Mum would buy me one at the local bakery. I was then allowed to have it for breakfast the morning after, slathered with jam. Small or big, round or long, I loved them to bits. That sort of breakfast was (and still is) truly unbeatable.


These raisin buns are far from fancy. They are just bundles of buttery, milky dough studded with raisins and glazed with some egg wash to make them golden on top. And yet, they hit all my soft spots, not least because they are never too sweet and can act as a vessel for some moreish toppings – butter and jam, surely, but also ricotta and honey, or even cheese and ham.

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