Bread & Baking

Bread and Milk Cake with Pears and Dried Plums, La Miascia

Makes a 9″ cake

11 ounces dry old bread (see note below)
2 cups whole milk
2 medium ripe pears
3 tablespoons sultanas or raisins, soaked in warm water to plump 4 dried plums or
prunes, thinly sliced3 dried figs, thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 large eggs ½ cup plus
1 tablespoon sugar, divided
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted, divided
Pinch of salt
Fresh nutmeg

Note: This recipe makes use of old bread that is too slate to enjoy as part of the normal course of a meal. The recipe is best when made with a plain artisan-style-loaf-one that is not sour and contains no seeds or nuts. If you prepare the bread specifically for this recipe (rather than just using leftover old bread), cut of the crust, slice the loaf into thick pieces, and leave them out to dry for 2 to 3 days. You will need 11 ounces of crustless dry bread, about 1 loaf’s worth.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and sugar a 9-inch round cake pan. Break the bread into small pieces, place them in a large bowl, and pour the milk over them. Set aside for an hour or more, turning the bread in the milk from time to time and crushing it with your hands. Soak the bread until it has broken down into a homogeneous mass of moist shreds. There should be no loose milk remaining once the bread has broken down; if there is excess, strain it off and discard.
Peel and core the pears, and cut them into small rough pieces. Add the soft bread. Strain the raisins of their excess liquid and add them to the bread along with the sliced dried plums and figs. Add the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Gently mix together with your hands or spoon.
Whisk together the eggs, ½ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Gently fold this into the bread-and-fruit mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Dust the surface of the cake with freshly grated nutmeg, Drizzle or brush the remaining tablespoon of melted butter, and sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Bake for 1 ¼ hours. Turn the heat up to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 15 minutes to lightly brown the top of the cake. La Miascia is done when its top is slightly crunchy medium golden brown, and the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan.

From: Cooking with Italian Grandmothers, by Jessica, http://www.welcomebooks.com/cookingwithitaliangrandmothers/