Ticino Breadcake, Peasant Cake, or Cake of the Poor. During times of war or hardship in Ticino it was especially important to not waste anything on the farm—not even the bread that was stale and hard. According to tradition, farm wives would take their stale bread and soak it in milk overnight. Then they would stir in eggs and any other ingredients they might have in the kitchen—dried fruits, berries, or nuts and bake it until firm. Over time, this “breadcake” or “peasant cake” evolved into the sweet version that is still widely enjoyed today. Please enjoy this Ticino breadcake recipe and let us know what you think!
½ lb stale bread (white or wheat), broken into small pieces or processed into large crumbs (about 4 cups)
2 cups whole milk or half and half
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbs butter, softened
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup walnuts, broken into raisin-sized pieces
1/3 cup small dice of fresh apple (about ½ of a peeled apple, diced into raisin-sized pieces)
½ cup raisins
Pinch of salt, if desired
Extra pieces of butter, pine nuts, and bread crumbs for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9” x 5” x 4” loaf pan or 8” round cake pan. Line with parchment, then rub with butter and dust with some reserved bread crumbs or flour.
In a large mixing bowl, add bread pieces and cover with milk. Stir vigorously until blended. Allow to sit for 10 minutes while stale bread absorbs the liquid. Stir in the eggs, blending well. Add the sugar and cocoa powder, stirring until completely mixed in. Add butter, pine nuts, walnuts, apple, and raisins. Add salt, if desired. Stir until ingredients are blended in.
Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan. If desired, you can top with additional dots of butter, pine nuts, and bread crumbs. Bake for about 60 minutes or until top is crusty and springs back when touched.
Allow to cool completely before serving. Use a sharp knife to cut. You can serve this at room temperature or chilled. Nice with a spoonful of mascarpone, a dusting of powdered sugar, and a handful of fresh berries.
Yield: 8 servings