The people of Abruzzo seldom indulge in lavish cakes or pastries, but when the occasion calls for it, home cooks often draw on the region's ancient recipe for fiadone cake. Essentially an Italian cheesecake made from eggs, ricotta and lemon, this specialty is encased in a basic pastry dough, which keeps the cheese mixture soft and moist inside.
- 7 eggs
- 120 g caster sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 300 g fresh ricotta
- 300 g grated primo sale or paneer
- 2 tbsp sambuca (optional)
- 1⅓ cups (200 g) plain or type ‘00’ flour
- 1 egg
- 2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ tbsp caster sugar
- 100 ml water
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.
To make the dough, put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the egg, olive oil, sugar and one third of the water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until a soft dough forms. If it is too dry and stiff, gradually add the remaining water until the desired consistency is achieved. Cut the dough into two pieces – one half should be bigger than the other as it will be used to line the ring cake mould. Wrap the dough portions in plastic film and set aside to rest while you make the filling.
Beat the eggs, sugar and lemon zest for 3–4 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the ricotta, grated cheese and sambuca (if using) and mix until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Grease and flour a 24 cm ciambella tin (or other round tin with a hole in the middle).
Roll out the larger portion of dough to a thickness of 3–4 mm and use it to line the base of the prepared tin. Pour in the filling. Roll out the remaining dough to the same thickness and cut it into strips using a knife or pastry wheel. Arrange the pastry strips over the filling in a criss-cross pattern.
Bake for 45–55 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked through but still has a slight wobble in the middle. Cut the centre out to allow it to cool completely before serving. Fiadone will keep for up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container or wrapped in foil.
• The addition of sambuca helps neutralise the dominant egg flavour in the filling. You can replace it with rum or amaretto, if preferred, or add some lemon juice instead.