madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking


sour-cherry braided brioche

a golden, buttery brioche enveloping a spectacular preserve

I live the strange life of innkeepers, having my Sundays all together in a single dose and enjoying rest and relaxation when the  world seems to be most busy, in the winter. Working 7 or 8 months in a row with no breaks has its disadvantages. However, we also get to have longer holidays in December and escape the cold to sunny and exotic corners of the world.

Another advantage is that I don’t feel guilty for having stuffed myself with all sorts of holidays sweets. I did not, I suffered through tropical fruit shakes and green curries ;).

Back to the grayness of January I feel I am allowed some comfort food. Don’t you?

Every spring I make wild sour cherry preserves. The cherries are tart like hell but intensely aromatic with an almondy aftertaste. They complement perfectly the buttery lightness of the brioche but you could use blackberry or blueberry jam.  The brioche is an adaptation of my friend Corinna’s fabulous torta di rose.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 gr. (1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 400 g (3 cups) gr all-purpose flour


  • 100 g / 3.5 oz butter, softened at room temperature.
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 cup sour cherry preserves

Make the dough as explained for the torta di rose, transfer onto a work-top, knead briefly  and roll into a 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick  square.

Using a flexible spatula, spread first the  butter and then a thin layer of preserves over the dough.  Cut the square into 6 strips which should be at least 10 cm. (4 inches) wide. Starting at the long side of each strip, roll the dough into a log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up.

how to make it: spread a thin layer of butter, then the preserves, then roll into logs

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 3 logs of dough seam side up and parallel to each other on the sheet. Beginning in the center and moving toward one of the ends, braid the logs. Turn the baking sheet around and repeat the same procedure for the opposite end of the logs. Pinch ends together and tuck the join under the braid. Make sure to use a small amount of preserves or all this will be a sticky mess!

Make a second braid with the rest of the logs on a separate baking sheet or use a large baking sheet so you have at least 5 inches between the braids.

Cover the baking sheet with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180° C (375°F). Bake braids until golden, about 45 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8-10

This recipe has been submitted to YeastSpotting
Braided Brioche on Foodista


spiced grape jelly

magnificent fall colors in Umbria

I love October in Umbria. Soon the winter sadness will descend on us, but right now colors are working full-time. Everywhere is golden and red. Everything seems to taste sweet, chestnuts, pears, grapes. There’s wonderful grapes everywhere.

We are the lucky owners of a 1/2 century old vine-arbor. We don’t make wine with the fruits, too much of a fuss. We just leave the bunches there to capture the last bits of sun. During one of those mellow afternoons, I go outside to harvest them and enjoy the technicolor.

a gorgeous sunset from our terrace

I pick the best bunches, put them in a large bucket, sit comfortably with (dog) Google at my feet and remove all the stems.

Then I pour the cleaned grapes in a cauldron and heat it until the grapes start bursting. I subsequently proceed to sieve the grapes through a mouli to remove skins and seeds.

Next, I transfer the filtered grape juice back into the cauldron where I bring it to slow boil and let it simmer until is reduced by half. Finally I can make the jelly.

For that, I use same amounts of sugar and reduced grape juice (weight), powdered pectin according to package instruction, the zest of 1/2 lemon, 2 cloves and 1 inch cinnamon stick per liter/quart grape juice.

The whole process takes several hours. A small mountain of tiny wine grapes only yields a few precious jars. Every year I think I am crazy. Every year I hope I have captured some of the last sun in the jar.

grape jelly made with green and red wine grapes


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