I’ve been sitting on a bundle of Easter bread and cake recipes for many years. Some years I’ve baked Panettone and Cheryl has been baking Hot Cross Buns, so I’ve never made the time to experiment with any of my recipes. This year might be the beginning of regular adaptations of European breads and cakes.
Pasimata Cake: a recipe from the Garfagnana …. or Bundjalung Anise Myrtle Cake
Pasimata is an Easter cake from the Garfagnana area of Italy. The Gafagnana is mountainous country north of Lucca in Tuscany. An ancient cake, it was probably originally made with spelt flour.
Aniseed Myrtle is a tree native to northern New South Wales, the Bundjalung peoples country. The Arakwal, Banbai, Birbai, Galiabal, Gidabal, Gumbainggeri, Jigara, Jugambal, Jugumbir, Jungai, Minjungbal, Ngacu, Ngamba, Nyangbal and Widjabal, Arakwal, Banbai, Birbai, Galiabal, Gidabal, Gumbainggeri, Jigara, Jugambal, Jugumbir, Jungai, Minjungbal, Ngacu, Ngamba, Nyangbal and Widjabal peoples have lived in this country for some 30,000+ years. There is evidence that indigenous peoples ground native seeds to make bread 30,000 years ago.
I decided to use an ancient Italian recipe to bake an ancient Australian cake.
My original recipe is Aurelio Barattini’s recipe for a cake baked at Antica Locanda di Sesto restaurant in Sesto di Moriano (Lucca). The ingredients in brackets are those I used to replace/substitute.
500 g wheat flour (40 g coconut flour, 20 g bread improver, 240 g white spelt flour & 200 g white bread flour)
3 eggs (5 eggs)
200 g butter or lard (butter)
200 g sugar (caster sugar)
50 g yeast (3/4 cup sourdough starter)
150 g raisins (50 g dried sour cherries 100 g Outback Prides’s Australian Wild Fruit- Muntries, Quandong, Native Currants, Illawarra Plums and Desert Limes)
1 tablespoon anise seeds (Anise Myrtle powder)
- Dissolve the yeast in warm water with two spoons of flour. Let stand overnight.
- Divide the ingredients in three parts (except the butter, the anise and raisins)
- Incorporate to the mixture the first part of the ingredients (one egg, the first part of the flour and sugar. Knead well and let it rest for 2 hours.
- Add the second part of the ingredients, knead and let rise for another 2 hours.
- Finally add the third part of the ingredients and combine everything with the melted butter, the anise and the raisins.
- Knead well, place on a 30cm diameter baking pan (on baking paper) and let it rise for 2 hours. Bake at 180c for about 1 hour.
- Let it cool and serve with a glass of Tuscan Vin Santo.
- Use sourdough starter that has been fed and expanded … that is, very active.
- Mix all the flours and caster sugar in a bowl.
- Add one third of the flour/sugar mixture and two eggs to the sourdough starter. Knead well and let rest for 2 hours.
- Add the second third of the flour/sugar and 1 egg. Knead well and let rest for two hours.
- Add the anise myrtle and fruits to the last third of flour and mix to coat, then add to the mixture with last 2 eggs and butter and knead for 10 minutes.
- Line a 25cm spring form pan with baking paper, pour in batter and let it rise for 2 hours or longer to rise.
- Bake at 180c for about 1 hour.
- Let it cool and serve with a glass of Rutherglen Fortified (Port style) or Muscat
This is a cross between a bread and a cake. Despite the butter content, it isn’t like a brioche or a panettone. It has a very fine crumb. Delicious with very subtle flavours, and it can be lightly toasted. Even the crumbs when picked up with a licked finger taste amazing.
Traditionally Aboriginal people used it medicinally as a tonic which had a vitalising effect.
Mature leaves. The leaves are typically dried and milled used as a tea or flavour ingredient or steam destilled to obtain anise myrtle essential oil.
Anise myrtle leaves are harvested all year.
There is little known about traditional uses of anise myrtle, although it has been reported that the trees were harvested during World War 2, when aniseed flavouring was in short supply. The leaves are believed to have been made into a tonic with a vitalising effect.
Aroma of aniseed, menthol and herbal. Flavour of aniseed, some sweetness and slightly cooling on the palate.
Anise myrtle leaves milled for anise liquorice flavour in sweet and savoury products. The milled leaves are used to impart a distinctively sweet anise flavour in teas, drinks, syrups, glazes, cakes, biscuits, dressings, sauces and icecreams. Anise myrtle essential oil is used as a flavouring ingredient. It has the ability to mask unpleasant odors form other foods and is also used in the cosmetic industry.
A study by Zhao et. al. (2007) showed strong activity of anise myrtle in both methanol and water extract against the common food spoilage bacteria Bacillus subtilis. Anise myrtle methanol extract also demonstrated activity against the Cholera causing human pathogen Vibrio cholerae. Antioxidant activity using ß-carotene bleaching in this study showed 40.6% of inhibition and free radical scavenging activity using DPPH measured 55.6 %. The total phenolic content using Folin-Ciocalteu procedure measured 55.9 ± 4.7**(mg GA Eq/gDW)