Hailing from Italy’s Veneto region, this monster disc of crushed almonds and sweet spice is said to have been created by Pasticceria Zizzola, near Treviso. Fregola is the word for ‘crumb’ in the Venetian dialect, and with just one bite of this oversized biscuit, its name will make perfect sense. Traditionally, it is served by laying it atop an almond, then pressing down to break it. You will need a 26cm springform cake pan for this recipe.
- 160 g (1 cup) whole roasted almonds, plus 40 g (¼ cup) extra, roughly chopped
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 110 g brown sugar
- 150 g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 1¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour
- 45 g (¼ cup) fine polenta
- icing sugar, to dust
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a 26 cm springform cake pan with baking paper.
Place almonds in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add caster sugar and 80 g brown sugar and pulse to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a bowl until pale. Add egg yolks, vanilla seeds and almond extract and beat until well combined. Beat in almond mixture, then gently fold in 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, flour and polenta and beat until a stiff dough forms.
Press dough evenly into the base of the prepared pan. Combine remaining roughly chopped almonds, 30 g brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon in a bowl. Scatter mixture over dough, pressing the nuts lightly into the surface.
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden and the almonds are lightly toasted. Remove from pan and cool for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges and cool completely. Serve dusted with icing sugar.
Photography Chris Chen. Food preparation Phoebe Wood. Styling Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, November 2014, Issue 37.