Inspiration comes from so many different sources; the changing of the seasons or perhaps the display of produce in the outdoor markets always seems to jog the mind and get me thinking creatively. The advent of social media has allowed a talented network of like-minded food professionals to share their creations in an instant. Tuscan Grape Harvest Cake is a recipe I stumbled upon quite accidentally after becoming intrigued with a holiday cooking program called Organic Tuscany set in the countryside outside of Certaldo Tuscany.
What could be more emblematic of fall in Italy than the grape harvest or la vendemmia? The vineyards suddenly generate an unbelievable energy fueled by the urgency to harvest the precious grape bundles at the absolute correct moment. With smaller operations, it often becomes a family affair, with all hands in the vineyards. Although the focus of this harvesting is wine production, many piatti or dishes incorporate grapes at this time of year.
Tuscan Grape Harvest Cake is a prime example of how the simple local elements come together just the way they should. I never seem to tire of how rosemary, lemon peel, and olive oil perfume food; this is especially true when combined with grapes. Whether it be biscotti, cakes or savory dishes – you name it, the essence of these flavors is redolent of the Italian countryside.
Any red seedless grape will do when preparing Tuscan Grape Harvest Cake. The crunch of fresh lightly toasted walnuts adds just the right texture to this torta that’s held together with enough batter to retain shape. Tuscan Grape Harvest Cake and a glass of Vin Santo is the perfect end to a fall evening or Thanksgiving dinner.
Grazie Organic Tuscany for allowing me to post my rendition of your wonderful torta.
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- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ½ Tbs. baking powder
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Finely grated peel of half a lemon
- 1 cup of lightly toasted walnut pieces
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds of tasty red grapes, seedless
- 3 Tbs. turbinado sugar
- Additional rosemary sprigs for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Line the bottom and sides of a 10" springform pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.
- Wash the grapes well in several changes of fresh water, dry on cotton toweling. Remove the grapes from the stem and cut 1 pound of them into halves. Combine the halved and whole grapes together and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined; set aside.
- Remove the rosemary needles from the stem and coarsely chop. Place the rosemary and the extra virgin olive oil into a saucepan over a low flame. Bring to a low simmer, continuing to simmer for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the finely grated lemon peel.
- Break the two eggs into a small bowl and mix lightly with a fork. Add the eggs to the dry ingredients and combine; add the rosemary-scented olive oil to the mixture, combining with your fingertips.
- Add all of the grapes and the toasted walnuts to the batter using your hands. Once the mixture is uniformly combined, place it into the prepared springform pan & flattening it out with your hands. Sprinkle the cake with the turbinado sugar and place into the oven.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until there are no wet traces in the batter. Remove to a rack and allow to cool; after 20 minutes, unlatch the sides of the springform pan carefully. Once the cake has cooled, transfer to a serving plate using a spatula. Garnish with additional rosemary springs.