Skye McAlpine's superb cookbook A Table in Venice: Recipes from My Home (Clarkson Potter) is a love letter to Venetian food and a romantic ode to the pleasures of cooking at home. Ms. McAlpine has lived in Venice since she was six and weaves her own narrative around the recipes in this cookbook. Her modest and sweet approach to the material makes this a particularly charming work. She revisits old staples like Clams in White Wine Sauce as well as more exotic fare such as Poached Langoustines with Saffron Mayonnaise. Ms. McAlpine's work here is a sensual delight with wonderful recipes and one Instagram worthy shot after another. She is definitely a food writer to watch.
Fig And Mascarpone Cake (Torta Di Mascarpone E Fichi)
Serves 8 to 10
The bounty of figs is possibly one of the things I love most about late summer in Venice. We have a ﬁg tree in our garden, and it bears more fruit than we can possibly eat—or so you’d think. We always seem to ﬁnd a way of ﬁnishing them off.
Nothing quite compares to this cake in the heat of summer. While you can make it out of season with dried ﬁgs, it doesn’t quite hold the same magic as when laced with luscious fresh fruit; nevertheless, the dried variety produces a pretty ﬁne substitute on a cold winter’s day. Use 12 to 14 dried ﬁgs, cut away the tough stems, toss them in a small sauce-pan, and cover with a little over 1⁄2 cup (130ml) milk. Simmer gently on medium to low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the ﬁgs have softened, then let steep in the milk for a further 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the milk and quarter the ﬁgs before adding to the batter as you would the fresh fruit.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9-inch (23cm) cake pan, preferably springform, with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone, granulated sugar, and eggs until you have a smooth, thick cream. Sift in the ﬂour, baking powder, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Gently stir in the quartered ﬁgs. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until lightly golden on top and a knife or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. When you press down on the top of the cake, it should spring back nicely. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan before taking it out to cool. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and cut into slices to serve.