Most of my grandma’s recipes live on in our memory, like this robiola cake.
Sometimes I feel sorry thinking about the ones we lost.
But, more often, I am happy for those we have recovered patiently cooking until we have reconstructed the flavors we remembered.
My nonna’s recipes.
Nonna collected recipes as others do stamps.
Her repertoire ranged from traditional Romagna and Bolognese recipes to Italian and French classics. Masterful was her execution of the dessert Mont Blanc (HERE on the blog, you will find my version with white American sweet potatoes).
She also exchanged recipes and advice through letters with friends and acquaintances. Unfortunately, we have lost those epistles like the dishes Grandma never wrote.
And we have now given up hope of finding them.
All that remains of her cooking are notes. For example, the ones she wrote while on the phone with a friend, taking notes of ingredients or parts of the process on whatever piece of paper was at hand that, once time, phones were attached to the wall.
Unlike her letters, we know about these scribbled cooking notes because some have come down to us. Grandma used these pieces of paper as page markers. And it still happens today to find some among the pages of old books.
The black notebook.
The greatest gift Grandma left was a selection of recipes she wrote for her daughter.
At that time, my mom didn’t know to cook and wasn’t interested in it, but nonna said that, sooner or later, it would come in handy.
More than recipes, I would say that the notes collected in the black-covered notebook are thin notes. Often the process is missing. Sometimes it is just a list of ingredients without indication of the amounts.
Among those thin pages yellowed by time, it is easy to sense an expert hand that did not need detailed written recipes because she went by eye and memory. To say the truth, I don’t remember nonna cooking while holding a paper or book open on the table.
In the collection he wrote for my mom, alongside the classics of local cuisine, she included above all desserts, almost always recipes that I do not know and do not remember ever having tasted. To the detriment of those she usually cooked.
We do not know what criterion guided her choice.
The robiola cake.
I feel gratitude for that notebook, but even disappointment for the recipes of cakes and cookies we loved that are not there. Above all my grandma’s favorites, all the cakes made with ricotta, mascarpone, or robiola. But on the other hand, there is a recipe for Sicilian cassata.
An almost touching thing happened recently.
We came back in possession of the recipe for her famous tiramisu, which, among desserts, was one of the highlights of Christmas lunch. The granddaughter of a lady to whom grandmother gave the recipe found a sheet of paper that said Sara’s Tiramisu.
She phoned my mom to tell her about the episode, and we asked her about the process. Also, Grandma sometimes used to title the dish with the name of the person who shared the recipe with her.
As I told you at the beginning of the post, the robiola cake is not in the collection.
Years ago, my mom and I reconstructed many of her recipes.
Right around that time, Magda, the in-house cook at the publishing house where I worked as an editor, gave me a collection of her dishes as a gift. Gift among the most precious moreover Magda is an exceptional cook.
Among her recipes was robiola cake.
It was enough to add more lemon juice to regain the cake flavor I remembered. My mom was pleased, too. And now we make Magda’s robiola cake that looks like Grandma’s.
I know it’s a bit of a long title, but we call it that.
I won’t leave you any advice; the process is disarmingly simple.
If you follow the steps and respect the quantities of the ingredients, everyone will ask you for the recipe.
In Romagna, robiola cake is considered the local answer to American cheesecake, which, it must be said, has European origins.
Buona cucina, Monica
Life and kitchen
Of my experience at Il Mulino, a Bolognese publishing house, and Magda’s, I told in the post where you find Bologna mortadella mousse, another recipe among those in her repertoire (HERE).
Cook with me
If you, like me, love cheese, look at the Ricotta Cheese Cake. You won’t regret it (HERE).
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If you can, make the cake the day before eating it.
Robiola cake recipe
baking pan diameter, 20 cm
List of the Ingredients
for the base:
cookies for cheesecake, 200g
melted butter, 100g
robiola cheese, 200g
caster sugar, 200g
medium eggs, 3
flour or potato starch, 3 tablespoons
heavy cream, 1/2 liter
natural vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
filtered juice of half a lemon
salt, a pinch
Chop the cookies in the mixer, pour into a bowl, and add the melted butter, stirring with a spoon.
Line a hinged mold with wet and wrung out baking paper, spread the cookie mixture forming a rimless base, and place it in the refrigerator.
Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Whip the egg whites without adding salt.
Add flour, vanilla, heavy cream, and lemon juice and mix.
Add in the whipped egg whites. Incorporate them stirring from the bottom to up.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 170-180C degrees, for about 60-70 minutes.
Check the baking by testing with a toothpick. The cake is ready when the wooden toothpick comes out dry.
Take the cake out of the oven, let it cool in the mold, dust with powdered sugar and place the cake on a plate.