As I sit to write this, I’m reminded of an old saying, whose origin and precise wording I cannot recall, and it runs roughly that “Sometimes pleasant memories are the most painful to recall,” which touches on one of today’s recipes.
You see, I wrote recently about memories and how “Aside from being a foggy and increasingly imperfect chronicle of the past, memories also taint how we perceive not only the world around us, but reach beyond their own domain of the past to color how we look at the future.”
Obviously, with Easter drawing ever nearer, memories and ‘memory making’ are at the fore as I try to piece together the night’s menu. Of course, this never fails to conjure memories of past Easters, and of what was the gem of each year’s family gathering – Italian Grain Cakes. They were quintessential to our holidays, giant cakes the size of small tables that were as much an event to prepare as they were to eat.
Tradition, however, especially family tradition, tends to fade as the number of familiar faces dwindles and pleasant memories turn bittersweet. As a result, neither myself nor either of my brothers, who also love to cook, have attempted to prepare one of these cakes for decades. This brings me to the biggest practical challenge in preparing this cake, which is that the original recipe my mother used is almost completely gone – except for what I can recall from preparing them alongside her as a child.
Yet, I was determined. After so many years, I’ll be honest and say I’m not quite sure what prompted me to dust off this old family favorite, except that I wanted to add something extra special to this year’s celebration. Of course, however, I decided on baking a ‘trial cake’ before preparing one for Easter.
I couldn’t bring myself to be the sole judge on the final product, and so I had to lift the veil just a little bit on this Easter’s surprise and invited my older brother over for dinner, and served this ‘prototype’ for dessert.
I’m pleased to say, his response was “Cath, that’s the flavor.”
I did make a few conscious deviations from the original. For example, I used wheat berries in place of barley or grano cotto, and prepared my own ‘citron’ with assorted dried fruit. I also used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached All Purpose White Flour, since it’s freshly milled from organic red wheat, with both the bran and germ removed, and is a high protein flour meaning it produces a high, well-textured, ‘light’ baked good.
What are some of your favorite Easter traditions? We would love to hear from you.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Enjoy with Love!