Torta Caprese allo Strega / Happy Birthday, Trota!

 o sole mio / torta caprese

Pe’ ll’aria fresca para già na festa…

Che bella cosa na jurnata ’e sole.

Torta Caprese allo Strega / Happy Birthday, Trota!

torta caprese

Has Fidget gone completely doolally?

Possibly. But this is no ordinary week: it’s going to be Trota’s special (can you guess?) birthday! So Fidget has pulled out all the stops, including this fantastic cake classic.

Torta Caprese ‘of Capri’ is linked with the Campania region of Naples – hence Vesuvius in the background – and is often associated with birthdays or special occasions.

But enough about the history of this lovely cake, let’s get down to business. To make sure we did the real thing in the cartoon kitchen, we followed the recipe of the ultimate authority in Neapolitan cookery: our favourite, Gino D’Acampo (original recipe here)

You will need: 100g salted butter, 250g good-quality dark chocolate (we used a mix of 70% and 85% cocoa), 4 medium eggs separated, 150g caster sugar, 150g ground almonds, 30ml liqueur Strega* (this is not in the original recipe and can be replaced with amaretto if you can’t find Strega, or omitted altogether).

Start by preparing your tin. Line a round 23cm loose-bottom tin with baking paper (base and sides) and pre-heat the oven to 180°/gas mark 4.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a large glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (the water must not touch the bottom of the bowl).

Have two other bowls handy (yes, this is not a Salmon one-pot) one for the egg whites and one for the yolks. Add the sugar to the yolks and whisk until pale and fluffy. Pour the chocolate mix into the yolk mix and keep whisking until it is well amalgamated. Add the ground almonds and the liqueur (if using) and incorporate.

Separately (with spotlessly clean blades – wash them very thoroughly) whisk the egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold the whites into the chocolate mixture using a metal spoon and starting with 2–3tbsp of the whites to loosen the chocolate mixture, then add the rest. Try to trap as much air as possible, as this cake has no other raising agent.

Pour the mixture into the lined tin and cook in the middle of the oven for 30–40min, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let it rest for 10min before taking out of the tin. Serve at room temperature with a good dollop of clotted cream while – to get properly in the mood – you listen to Pavarotti’s version of Fidget’s favourite.

No doubt by now you’re transported to the Bay of Naples… and not a single TV-advertised ice cream in sight. Happy Birthday, Trota!

* Strega liqueur: from the town of Benevento, in the Campania region, is made with saffron and herbs: www.strega.it