We are excited to share this guest post from India Wilkerson who shares a traditional Italian Torta recipe from her host Mother, Thea, in Italy. India, and her classmate Sophie, were part of a Boston University trip to Italy led by BU professor Paula Quatramoni. This torta is a rich Mediterranean breakfast that would be served on special occasions.
Thea is an excellent cook and the Italian ingredients she uses exhibit a freshness that I rarely experience in even the best home-cooked meals here in the States. When Sophie and I asked her if she would give us an impromptu cooking lesson, she was excited to share her process with us and I was excited to see her in action.
We measured for you
While her measurements weren’t precise and the ingredients were subject to change with each preparation, the way she bounced around the kitchen and explained her process with a smile on her face showed that being in the kitchen was not merely a chore to get food on the table, but a pleasure. I think it was Thea’s love of sharing her food with us that made mealtimes so special. We’d sit around the dining room table and discuss our days, any upcoming plans, and maybe receive some recommendations on somewhere new we had to visit.
After every meal we ate together, we would gather in the living room to watch our nightly American action-thriller dubbed over in Italian until that sweet food coma hit and we were all ready to turn in for the night. Our month with Thea was sprinkled with the brightest moments of joy and food was at the center of so many of these moments. From having gelato with Thea and her parents in their beautiful, wooded home to playing with her grandchildren after a pasta dinner on the terrace. I can still remember the joy on Sophie’s face when we would start getting ready for the day ahead and realize that Thea had left us a freshly baked Torta for breakfast, almost knowing when we needed it most.
1 1/8 cupsJar of jam (Thea’s jam comes in 340g containers which is about 1 1/8 cups jam)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, add your flour, sugar and a pinch of salt.
Create a hole in the center of the flour mixture and crack your eggs into the open space.
Rinse a single lemon (Thea buys Organic!) and zest over the flour mixture.
Over the stove, heat butter until melted. Once the butter has melted, mix into your dough.
Work the dough with your hands to mix all the ingredients. “If the pastry is too soft – add flour. If it’s too hard – add another egg.”
Cover the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper and then half the dough, saving the other half of the dough for the top of the pastry. “I use the same pastry for apple pie... obviously you have to put apples.”
Cover the bottom of the pastry with the desired amount of jam. Cover with crumbles of the leftover dough.
Bake for 25 minutes – the pastry will begin to brown and “it must have a smell” (a delicious smell at that).
India Wilkerson is a student at Boston University working towards her Master's degree in Nutrition. She hopes to become certified as a registered dietitian after finishing her academic career with BU. Prior to completing her undergraduate degree, India had the opportunity to spend a summer term in Padua, Italy, taking a course dedicated to examining the health and cultural implications of the Mediterranean Diet. Outside of the classroom, India enjoys spending time out in nature, watching anything on TV that'll make her laugh, and getting brunch with friends.