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Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina
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This is a Carnival cake, something to enjoy before Lent arrives with all its privations. The more traditional recipes call for lard and require that a starter loaf be made with the yeast. This recipe, pried by my mother in law from Il Rossino, a pastry chef in Florence's Via Centostelle, does not, and is good enough to be eaten rear round:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
  • 7 tablespoons warm milk
  • 2 eggs
  • The juice and zest of an orange
  • A packet of yeast
  • Confectioner's sugar

Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Beat the eggs, and mix all the ingredients together except the confectioner's sugar.

Bake the schiacciata in an 8 by 12 inch pan, at 180 °C (350 ºF) for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the schiacciata comes out dry. Once the schiacciata has cooled, remove it from the pan and dust it well with the confectioner's sugar (make sure the schiacciata is cool, or the sugar will take on a bitter taste).

Florentine chefs generally put a powdered chocolate lily in the schiacciata's upper right hand corner, using a small lily-shaped stencil to keep the chocolate from spreading too far. Enjoy!