Friday, 23 September 2011

FELICE AUTUNNO! Pumpkin and Prosciutto Savoury Cake (Torta Salata alla Zucca)


It's Autumn harvest time: in Italy the vineyards have already been stripped of all their jewels of alabaster, though Summer is still there, alive and beautiful, dancing round the fields and along the seashore.
The grapes have been harvested... the new wine is probably already bubbling up. The olive trees are laden with green and black olives, fleshy and beautiful in their plump evening gowns.
Autumn is fast approaching, bringing new colours, smells and flavours. In my garden, the vegetables are beginning to fade away, as the nights get colder... This is when I really, really wish I could be in Italy. The beaches are empty, though the sea is still warm and the temperatures as high as in August. The world is back at work, in the busy cities and towns. Everything is so beautiful! And the city has come back to LIFE!
Oh, I am so nostalgic! How I wish I could relive an Italian Autumn! Maybe I will, soon...
In my garden, a tiny, little pumpkin is telling me we are into a new season. In Italy, by the way, they were selling pumpkins everywhere. What do people do with pumpkins in Southern Italy? Who knows...
In a recent copy of Vero Cucina, an Italian Food Magazine I buy when I'm there,  I found a recipe: Torta Salata Con Zucca e Prosciutto Crudo, Savoury pumpkin and Parma Ham Cake. It is, in fact, a kind of savoury plum cake, which I made today and... Is it delicious, or is it delicious? And... apparently a "Torta Salata" (Savoury cake) is a MUST when you have a party!
So, here it is:
Torta Salata con Zucca e Prosciutto Crudo
( Savoury Pumpkin and Parma Ham Cake)
(makes 7 or 8 servings)
150 g ( 5 oz) plain (all purpose) flour
300 g (10 oz) pumpkin
3 small eggs
100 g (4 oz) butter
80 g (3 1/2 oz) Parma Ham
80 g ( 3 1/2 oz) Parmesan cheese
1 tbs dried yeast
poppy seeds
Before you start, place your butter in a mixing bowl and let it soften at room temperature. In the meantime, peel your pumpkin, de seed, cut into largish chunks and grate.
When the butter has softened, beat it with a wooden spoon or a hand wisk, till you obtain a creamy consistency, then add your eggs, flour, dried yeast.  Mix, and finally add your grated pumpkin, the Parmesan, (I used Pecorino Romano, instead) your ham, chopped into 1 inch squares and some pepper. I didn't put any salt in my torta, as I used salted butter and cheese which was quite salty. You can add some salt, if you like.
You can now mix your ingredients together, till they blend to form a lovely bright mixture. When all the ingredients are blended together, pour the stiff cake mixture into a plum cake (or loaf) tin, which you would have  previously buttered and floured.


In the tin, ready for the oven

Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake in a preheated oven at a temperature of 180 C, Gas 4, 350 F, for about 50 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a good 20-25 minutes. It needs to rest, so the texture is just right.
I served individual portions with a lovely salad made using my "innocent" ( organic) baby Swiss chard, basil, parsley, olives and shavings of Pecorino cheese.
The peppers I used to top the bread were cooked in olive oil, garlic and capers (peperonata)

A slice of my Savoury Pumpkin cake

Main ingredients for peperonata

A delicious meal to brighten up an Autumnal day!


  1. Dearest Anna - Hope this week was somewhat better for you. I am thinking of you and keeping you in prayer. Hopefully Rosa is with my mother Kathleen and they are giggling and saying "what is this blogging thing all about"? Someone's child recently said about one's blog follower's "imaginary friends". Your dish sounds absolutely delicious and you are a marvelous cook/chef? Are you professional in this field?

  2. Dear Helen,

    Thank you so much for your kindness. I am much better, thank you, though I sometimes can't stop the tears... it is sad... but it will get better, I know...

    Thank you for the compliments. The savoury pumpkin cake is truly delicious and I now know, it needs to rest for an hour or two, before being consumed (the texture improves)

    I am not a trained chef, but I am a natural cook. As you know, I had a fantastic teacher. I will soon start teaching all day Italian Food and Lifestyle workshops, though, which will be fun, as I am a born performer!

    I am actually a Linguist, specialized in Modern Languages and Literature (have also specialized in Italian Literature) I am very interested in communication on every level and in Art as Language. I enjoy "reading" Van Gogh!

    As you are Irish, I should tell you I wrote a dissertation on the Irish Theatre and examined Brendan Behan and his play The Quare Fellow, which I studied and interpreted. I enjoy Literature and Art Criticism (my own!)My "passions" include: Oscar Wilde, man and artist, the poetry of Pablo Neruda and many more artists amongst which Beckett and of course much Italian Literature and poetry. I also write poetry and paint (as a dilettante, of course. Not a Vincent, yet!)

    PS: I also enjoy shopping!

    Sorry about the long reply, but you did ask!

    Enjoy the weekend


  3. Anna, I've tried to leave you the same comment twice, but it seems Blogger is playing up :-(

  4. This worked, gggrr!!!
    I'm trying again....

    Gosh, I'm speachless at reading your reply to Helen..and I'm totally scared to leave my humble comment full of typos to such a genius!
    Ciao Anna! Everything with Parma ham is a winner, mmmh, I love it!
    I've never thought that plum cake could be turned into a savoury cake because of its shape and texture, I've always in my mind puff pastry and brisè pastry when I think of "torta salata"..ah, the growing tendency towards globalization and the brunch trend!
    You do take some beautiful pictures of your ingredients!
    Buona domenica!

  5. Michela, as you can see, your comments did appear. So sorry about talking about myself as much as I did. I write as I talk: too much!

    My profile was really the place for that kind of information. Sorry! It's done now!

    To me, the savoury cake idea is a winner, and the one I posted is a really good one. I enjoyed it, though it was a bit rich.

    PS: I am usually the one for typos, especially when I can't find my reading glasses. And... you don't need to be a genius to gain knowledge, just need to study with love and dedication. Anyone can do it!Don't need to be a genius!

    Buona domenica, Michela. I like your kitchen paper!Where did you get it from?


  6. I don't know if you got my email today, anyway the kitchen roll is Regina (di Cuori)..I got it at the supermarket, LOL!
    Of course it's your blog and you don't need to apologise if you talk about yourself, I was just kidding! :-)

  7. We went to a friends for lunch today and saw many tractors and trailers full of grapes, harvest is definitely underway now in Northern Lazio.
    One of our favourites ways of using pumpkins is to make soup.

  8. Michela, I didn't get your email. I was just wondering... such a pretty design on something that is going to end up dirty and discarded.

    What a waste!



  9. Ciao, Lindy...

    It's such a wonderful time of year. I remember seeing a massive trailer laden with grapes going through the city, when I was a little girl, in Italy.
    I suspect the grapes in Puglia must have already been harvested as it's such a hot part of the country!

    I had never cooked with pumpkin before, and I am not terribly keen, though the savoury torta is lovely. Maybe one could make a sweet pumpkin cake using a carrot cake recipe! Would it work?

    My favourite soup is minestrone. I love it, love it, love it! Will post the recipe, soon.

    Buona serata


  10. Hello Anna,
    Apart from loving this most recent collection of photographs and delicious looking recipe, I really liked learning a bit more about you. I have found (rather ironically) that bloggers tend to be quite private people- we only tell bits and pieces of our lives!
    I feel for your sadness. We visited my dearly loved Father today. I think he knew that it was me. May you have a happier week. Jane x

  11. Hello Jane!
    I'm so glad to hear that you liked reading a bit more about me. I enjoyed reading your last lovely post and felt I got to know you through that. Thank you for being so sweet.

    I am sorry to hear about your father... it's not easy, is it?

    I have a long, busy week ahead of me and I am hoping to survive it! So much to do, so little time!

    Speak to you soon, I hope!


  12. Hi Anna, of course you can come to tea any time you like, as long as I can come for some of that pumpkin cake! Your photographs have me drooling they are so beautiful. Good luck with your courses, they sound wonderful. I have been catching up with the posts I've missed, your mum's bolognese looks very tasty, I must try it as my daughter loves bolognese. The orange ricotta looks rather gorgeous too. Thankyou for all your lovely recipes and luscious photography. Love Linda x

  13. Hi Linda! Good to see you here!

    I will come to tea, but bear in mind that my favourite cakes are tiny pastries like choux buns filled with cream, any pastry with ricotta in it, like cannoli, but no tiramisu` or anything with liquor in it. And I love strawberry shortcake! Pannacotta is good, too and I adore creme brulee... with raspberries. And strawberries and cream. Can you manage that?
    Your little fruit tartlets look magnificent, by the way! And your flowers... almost edible!

    And I love Earl Grey (but I'll accept Tetley Tea "It's the taste!")



  14. Hi Anna, I can see I am going to need a little bit of notice when you come to tea! Thankyou for your comments. You being Italian are perfectly entitled to have san Pellegrino water in your fridge, or 'on tap' for that matter. I happen to like the taste too. Much love, till the next time, Linda x

  15. Oh looks delicious can I come to eat:)

  16. Of course you can come, Henrietta! Let's make a deal: I'll cook you delicious Italian food and you show me a few photography "tricks!" I love your photos!