For a few weeks I had an appointment on Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m. It was suggested that while I shouldn’t eat a big lunch beforehand, I could have a light snack that wouldn’t interfere with manipulation of my shoulder. If they had told me not to eat anything, it would have been easier: a breakfast adjustment perhaps, an ice cream or a bag of chips afterwards, and thoughts about dinner. But “anything that might interfere with my shoulder” was both a question and a suggestion. What wouldn’t interfere with my shoulder? Crackers with cheese, yogurt, ice cream, banana, a triangular sandwich or a cookie with a jam filling from the nearest bar?
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One of the many benefits of having a grandmother who ran a bar was knowing from an early age how wonderful a long bar can be. And not just in a pub. It could be in a canteen or pool cafe, or a bar in the Italian sense: a long counter where you can eat or drink something quick, be alone in company, have things behind the bar to look at, and a person to talk to. Or not. Anyway, it was the third or fourth week when I stood at the counter at Bar Paradiso, having a cappuccino and a slice of plain cake. It was perfect, it didn’t interfere with my shoulder and my stomach didn’t rumble. I went back the following week, which was my last appointment. But paradise and cake were already linked forever, so when I read about paradise cake, which has nothing to do with a bar in Rome (it’s typical of Pavia in Lombardy), I decided to make it.
There is a legend about a herbalist monk who invented this cake for his brothers, and a story about the creation by Enrico Vigoni, a local baker. In both cases, the particularity of the paradise cake is its airy lightness. This is due to four things: using icing sugar, beating the butter, icing sugar and egg yolks until extremely pale and light, using half potato starch and half flour, and whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks before folding them in. . All the aeration produces a paler cake, too. It is also a memorable “quattro quarti” (four parts) cake, which, like a classic cake, uses equal parts butter, sugar, flour and eggs.
The classic way to serve this cake is to dust it with icing sugar, using a stencil to make a pattern, if desired. Another way is to spill the cake and fill it with lemon curd and/or mascarpone sweetened with a little sugar. Alternatively, poke the bottom of the cake with a toothpick and drizzle the holes with a liqueur (maraschino and poire williams come to mind) so the bottom inch is slightly soaked. Which means that while it’s still a light cake, nature paradise is as much about sinking as it is floating.
Homework 15 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
brands 1 cake of 24 cm
250 g soft butter
250g icing sugar
125g potato starch
125 g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
zest of 1 large lemon without wax
To serve (all optional)
Powdered sugarto sprinkle
1 small jar of lemon cream
150 g mascarpone mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar
Liqueur (for example, maraschino or poire williams)
Beat the butter and half the icing sugar very well, until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating each well before adding the next, then add the potato starch, flour, baking powder and lemon zest, and beat again.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, add the rest of the sugar and beat until stiff. Pour the egg white mixture into the butter bowl, then scrape the batch into a 24cm lined pie plate and bake in the middle of an oven at 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 for 40 minutes, until that a skewer or a strip of spaghetti comes out. come out clean
To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar. Alternatively, pour and fill with lemon curd and/or mascarpone sweetened with a little sugar, or prick the bottom with a toothpick, sprinkle with liquor and leave to soak for a few minutes.