The Italian Baker - Melissa Forti

The Italian Baker: 100 International Baking Recipes with a Modern Twist by Melissa Forti is an incredible baking book from a baker who is self-taught. Born in Rome, Melissa lived in Los Angeles and London before settling in Sarzana, Italy where she opened a boutique bakery and tea room. 

Sarzana is a town on the popular Ligurian coast of north-west Italy. Its location on one of the most important Roman trade roads to France, the famous "Via Francigena", made it a town that has been coveted across the centuries by the Florentines, Genoese, and Pisans.

Melissa's Tea Room and Cakes draws locals and tourists alike with her freshly baked treats and atmosphere. A quick glance at reviews of the tea room finds raves and positive remarks. This book harnesses the spirit of the gorgeous setting and for those of us who will unlikely visit the Italian city of Sarzana, we can experience the deliciousness of the tea room's offerings. (Photo of the tea room below by Melissa Forti.)
 


From the moment I saw the cover, I knew I would love this book. Spectacular photographs of each dessert taken by Danny Bernardini as well as his photographs of Melissa and her tea room truly bring the spirit of the author and her bakery to life - a throwback to vintage Italy. And then we have the recipes - Torta Mimosa (a cake made to resemble the tropical mimosa flower)  Parrozzo (a dome shaped cake), Orange Meringata E Arancia (orange meringue genoise) and Cheesecake Al Pistacchio E Lamponi (pistachio and raspberry cheesecake) - all are showstoppers. Every recipe in this book is special and totally approachable. I made the Raspberry Blondies for my son and he loved them and I am looking forward to making many more desserts from The Italian Baker.

I am so pleased that we are able to share the recipe for the Tiramisu Cake below with our readers. Special thanks to Quadrille Publishing and the author for doing so and to Danny Bernardini for the photograph. Please be sure to head to our contest page and enter our giveaway for this book - any baker would love this title.

 

torta tiramisu a modo mio 
tiramisù cake my way 

"Lift me up"! This is what tiramisù means literally. There are many versions of this dessert, some following the traditional way of using savoiardi sponge biscuits (cookies), others just consisting of mascarpone cream poured into a glass or ramekin and dusted with cocoa powder. In Liguria, where I live, they use a type of light, sweet cookie called a pavesino. This is yet another version of the dessert, prepared my way. At my shop this cake sells really, really fast and I am sure it will disappear pretty quickly in your house too! Serve it at the end of a dinner, or have it for breakfast, or simply whenever you feel down or tired and need to be "lifted up"!
 
Serves 8-12

INGREDIENTS

A little softened butter, for greasing
285g (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
200g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
4 eggs, separated
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
100ml (scant ½ cup) vegetable oil
200ml (¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon) strong brewed black coffee
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Good-quality cocoa powder, for dusting
For the mascarpone frosting
250ml (1 cup plus 2 teaspoons) double (heavy) cream
250g (9oz) mascarpone cheese
90g (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) icing (confectioner's) sugar

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter two 20-cm/8-inch cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

Sift the flour into a medium bowl, add the baking powder and half the sugar and whisk to combine.

Put the egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and place the egg whites in a large, clean bowl with the cream of tartar. Add the oil, half the coffee, the salt and vanilla to the egg yolks and beat until mixed, then add the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated; do not over-mix.

Using an electric hand-held whisk, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then add the remaining sugar and whisk to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whisked egg whites into the cake mixture, then divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and brush the remaining coffee over both, using a pastry brush. Wait for it to soak in, about 2 minutes, then invert the cakes on to a wire rack and cool.

For the mascarpone frosting, whip the cream in a mixing bowl, using an electric hand-held whisk, until medium stiff. Meanwhile using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, beat the mascarpone until creamy. Beat the whipped cream into the mascarpone and icing sugar.

To assemble, brush the remaining coffee over both cooled cakes. Place one cake on a cake board or plate. Spread some mascarpone cream over the top, using a spatula. Dust generously with cocoa powder and top with the second cake. Spread the remaining mascarpone cream over the top and sides of the cake. Dust the top with cocoa powder.

30 Comments

  • ellabee  on  2/25/2017 at 2:37 PM

    Given that Carol Field's The Italian Baker has long been a bible in the category, I wish the publisher of this book had gone with another title.

  • bdmltm  on  2/25/2017 at 5:41 PM

    This tiramisu cake looks amazing!

  • rchesser  on  2/25/2017 at 8:29 PM

    Besides the fact the recipes look great, I love that she is a self taught baker!

  • hippiechick1955  on  2/25/2017 at 8:53 PM

    Tiramisu cake without a doubt. I freaking love tiramisu and make a pretty mean batch of it. The cake probably wouldn't last long in my home!

  • allthatsleftarethecrumbs  on  2/25/2017 at 11:58 PM

    This is definitely one I am going to have to add to my collection. Although I don't really need a photo of each of the desserts, I love to see them as I know the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to get that shot that shows the true deliciousness of the baked goods.

  • Alleycat  on  2/26/2017 at 12:07 AM

    The tea room is beautiful. This book sounds wonderful.

  • Teruska  on  2/26/2017 at 10:49 AM

    I am looking forward to trying some of these recipes.

  • tangaloor  on  2/26/2017 at 11:21 AM

    I was a little confused by the title as well, but the content looks beautiful!

  • Lavnder  on  2/26/2017 at 1:57 PM

    The tiramisu is a MUST try!

  • gjelizabeth  on  2/26/2017 at 2:21 PM

    Just reading the recipe names carried me back to a trip ten years ago to Italy.

  • jezpurr  on  2/26/2017 at 3:49 PM

    Lots of lovely recipes!!!^_^

  • lebarron2001  on  2/27/2017 at 10:32 AM

    The recipe for Tiramisu that you shared sounds amazing.

  • sarahawker  on  2/28/2017 at 2:53 PM

    There is absolutely nothing in this book that doesn't sound fantastic!

  • Patoliv1312  on  3/2/2017 at 10:13 AM

    I definitely will try the Tiramisu recipe it's one of my favorite Italian desserts.

  • t.t  on  3/4/2017 at 12:17 AM

    It looks like a great book, but I agree with ellabee above.

  • cocecitycook  on  3/4/2017 at 3:10 AM

    This book sounds delicious!

  • Nancith  on  3/4/2017 at 11:27 AM

    The tea room looks like a great place to visit.

  • earthnfire  on  3/4/2017 at 7:35 PM

    I can't get to Italy, but this might help me feel like I'm closer.

  • nadiam1000  on  3/5/2017 at 9:10 AM

    The recipes are very appealing and from previewing the index, I see a lot of recipes I would like to try. I also love the fact that she is self taught.

  • Uhmandanicole  on  3/13/2017 at 1:18 AM

    I love sweets and baking, and this tiramisu recipe is a great teaser for what's in this book. My uncle is Italian so it's always a treat when he makes something he grew up with. It would be great if I could return the favor by baking him something from his childhood!

  • ktwalla  on  3/17/2017 at 4:04 PM

    I love that every recipe has a picture. It's so rare these days....

  • fiarose  on  3/19/2017 at 4:29 PM

    i love the idea of books by self-taught bakers, especially in things that people say just can't be self-taught (like really good baking!). i find that they're written in a really accessible way, and think this book looks like it's just that. beautiful, but available in content to anyone interested, regardless of skill level.

  • Siegal  on  3/22/2017 at 9:37 AM

    I'm judging this book by the cover and i love it

  • lgroom  on  3/22/2017 at 3:59 PM

    That tiramisu sounds amazing.

  • edyenicole  on  3/25/2017 at 9:16 PM

    I think this book is great.

  • AnnaZed  on  3/26/2017 at 11:33 PM

    This baker is a woman after my own heart. I too am a baker, and a baker of extremes. I look so forward to indulging in her vision.

  • imaluckyducky  on  3/28/2017 at 9:16 PM

    I'm really excited to bake through this book!

  • anastasiiap  on  3/30/2017 at 6:10 PM

    I think I'd try Italian carrot cake for Easter

  • anastasiiap  on  3/30/2017 at 6:13 PM

    This books looks amazing! I have German baking recipe book, and I'm looking forward to this one.

  • FireRunner2379  on  3/31/2017 at 6:51 AM

    I love Italian desserts, especially Tiramisu! If and when I ever make it over to Italy, her bakery sounds and looks awesome!

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