This recipe for Torta di Pane comes from the grandmother of a Swiss friend. I had asked her for a typically Swiss recipe, and she said that this is something she ate a lot growing up. Torta di Pane is Italian for Bread Cake. In the past, this was a recipe to use up the old, stale bread. Since I did not have any old bread, I had to dry some out to use it for this recipe. Additionally, I made a few other substitutions. Instead of raisins, I used Craisins, dried cranberries. And instead of espresso I used a cup of decaffeinated coffee.
My tips for making this tastier are to use bread that is not too strong tasting and not too heavy. In fact, the wheat bread may have been too strong and I probably should have counter-balanced that by adding more sugar. Also, you may want to choose a mixture of dense and light bread, so the cake does not get too heavy. Finally, I think the cake goes well served with either a milky drink or some cream on the side. It is definitely a good use for old bread!
800 g of bread, preferably 400 g each of two different kinds (I used one country baguette and some brown sliced bread)
750 ml of milk
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 espresso cup sugar (about 3 Tbsp) or 1/4 the amount of Stevia sweetener
1 espresso (I used instant decaf coffee dissolved in water)
1 sachet vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
1 large handful raisins (soaked with warm water and then squeezed, I used Craisins)
1 handful pine nuts
1 handful minced almonds
2 handfuls dry amaretti (about 5 biscuits), crumbled (or you can leave out and add an extra handful of minced almonds if you want to go sugar-free)
1 grated apple (important!)
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp butter
pine nuts for sprinkling on top
First, break the dried out bread into pieces and soak it in warm milk, then put in the refrigerator for a whole night.
The next day, start by pre-heating the oven to 200°C (180C for fan oven). Then squeeze the excess milk from the bread and break the bread into small pieces in a large mixing bowl. Next, add the eggs and mix well. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well.
Grease a cake pan with butter and flour and pour in the mixture. Top with little pieces of butter and some pine nuts. Then bake for 1 hour until the cake is set.
I made two separate cakes so I could make one with amaretti and one without.
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