Bostrengo is a winter rice cake that is scrumptious served as a sweet pick-me-up when you wake to a cold damp squib of a day, or as a moreish little cube to accompany a large glass of fruity red wine on a howling night when you don’t want to leave the house. It’s a rice cake that bustles & bursts with a procession of apples, figs, raisins, lemon and orange peel, coffee, cocoa and honey.
A famous one-pot cake bostrengo takes unextraordinary leftovers and sweeps them into a masterpiece which Italian traditional cooking does so sublimely. This version of Bostrengo is from Le Marche’s northerly province of Pesaro, whose famous inhabitants include composer Rossini and art benefactor Duke Federico da Montefeltro, and dates back to the 13th century and the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, although a variant is mentioned by Pliny as being consumed by the Romans who called it panis picentinus.
The cake is known in Le Marche’s other provinces as fristingo or frustenga and there are 22 different types recorded. There is something reminiscent of Tuscany’s Panforte in its taste, but it’s fresher, softer, less sweet, inviting that “dangerous oh just one more little bit” more readily. I made mine with brown basmati rice to ease the pain!
- 250 g Rice (cooked)
- 150 g Honey
- 1.5 Eggs
- Zest from ½ Orange & ½ Lemon
- 150 g Fresh Breadcrumbs soaked in milk
- 100 g Raisins
- 1.5 liqueur glasses of Dark Rum
- 3 espresso-sized cups of Coffee
- 75 g Dried Figs, finely chopped
- 75 g Polenta
- 75 g Plain Flour
- 100 g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 500 g Apples or Pears cut into cubes or slices
- Preheat the oven to 170 C.
- In a large saucepan on a low heat make a paste from the honey, eggs, orange and lemon zest, breadcrumbs, raisins, rum, coffee, chopped dried figs, polenta, flour, cocoa powder, olive oil, apples and pears cut into cubes or slices.
- Add the cooked rice to the mixture (that you have previously cooked in water or milk or have as a leftover) and mix thoroughly.
- If the mixture is too thick, add a little warm milk to dilute everything.
- Grease 2 sponge pans and divide mixture evenly and bake at a moderate heat (170 C) for about an hour.
- Once cool sprinkle with icing sugar and serve skinny slices or on cubes with cocktail sticks