Autumn is here, a quilt at night, morning mists, birds flocking, and of course, the season proudly showing off its inky tart jewels, smaller than usual, but it was a hard drought of a summer, something we must get used to with the climate emergency. What a bounty I found in the hedges at the top of my hill, time to try out Simona’s autumn berry cake recipe, a foragers delight that should be tried for its ease and simplicity by any working mum!
La Rosciola – The Shepherds Wheat
This cake uses La Rosciaola wheat (Triticum aestivum)though of course, you can substitute it for a local one. It’s a tasty, aromatic ancient Abruzzese wheat that was first mentioned as far back as 1537. One of the biggest fans of this type of flour is Niko Romito, Abruzzo’s award-winning Michelin chef, who uses it for his pasta and bread.
What makes the wheat special? Well, it could be that it doesn’t require fertilisers or need weeding, and it’s so hardy that it quite happily grows high in the mountains, up to 1400 metres above sea level, under the snow for up to 4 months of the year. It’s highly digestible and has a high protein content, low gluten percentage, and low glycemic index What a tragedy that we have grown so accustomed or should I say trained to buy wheat that has none of these properties!
When you come to Abruzzo you’ll be able to spot fields of this wheat as it is a russet gold in colour. Simona’s family grows this wheat on their small farm, Il Borgo degli Gnomi, between Montorio al Vomano and Teramo in the Upper Tordino Valley. They sell their organic flours and products at the farm and the Mercato Itinerante della Terra and host events for children in their amazing woods, with a yurt, outdoor showers, a stream, hammocks, real stumps for circle time and so much more. Officially it is termed an APE, a Permanent Room of Ecopedagogy, a space between woods and fields where children and their families can experience rural life and well-being in nature. I’m doing ‘English in the Wood’ there for a week amongst the blackberries and elderberries.
Simona’s Blackberry & Elderberry Olive Oil Cake
- 400 gm La Rosciola Flour or a similar soft wheat flour
- 100 gm Musovado or Soft Brown Sugar
- 60 gm Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 120 gm Water
- Washed Blackberries and Elderberries
- 2.5 tsp Baking Powder
- Sieve the flour, baking powder into a bowl, add sugar, water and oil and mix together.
- Knead gently for a couple of minutes till the dough is smooth.
- Cut into half, roll on gently or roll using hands like a pizza and put one half into a lined pie tin
- Lay blackberries and elderberries thickly onto the dough with a couple of dessert spoonfuls of sugar.
- Roll out the remaining dough and spread it over the berry mixture, pushing down the sides as you would a pie.
- Scatter remaining blackberries and elderberries over the top with a sprinkle of sugar.
- Bake for 30 minutes in a pre heated oven, temperature 180 C for 30 minutes.