Today we've reached the very southern part of France: the beautiful island of Corsica (Corse in French, Corsica in Corsican). This is not only the birthplace of Napoléon, arguably one of the greatest military strategists in history, but home to some seriously delicious food. Earlier this week it was exactly one month to go until the Corsican National Day on 8th December, and in honour of this, I baked a cake. Admittedly, I had never tried the Fiadone before (having unfortunately never visited the island), and was thus in every way a Fiadone-virgin, but I like to think it tasted like it was supposed to. Hopefully.
Fiadone (fiadonetti if you make several small ones) is a lovely and simple cake, consisting only of eggs, cheese and sugar, and a few other titbits. Mostly its crustless, but I've been told of a southern Corsican version called Imbrucciata, where they bake the fiadone on puff pastry. Keeping it simple, though, is my new mantra (I'm trying to stay away from fancy recipes) and this Fiadone fits the bill. Like a soufflé, it de-soufs (see, I' have continued to use this word, even though it's not technically a word) after just a couple of minutes. Unlike soufflés, it's supposed to cool for an hour or so before serving, hence you'll have to serve a de-souffed cake whether you like it or not.
Still, this stuff is excellent. I found its taste a little reminiscent of sitronfromasj (Norwegian lemon mousse), though it also has a unique flavour of its own (that would be the cheese). Rest assured, the cheese is not overly dominating though. Rather, it's a nice mèlange of many flavours, with just a hint of the eau-de-vie to make you happy.
Brocciu*, a Corsican lactose-free whey cheese made of goat or sheep milk, is traditionally used for the fiadone. Now, I haven't got a clue as to where you can get this cheese outside of Corsica, although presumably you'd be able to find it in some well-stocked cheese shops in southern France and maybe Paris. But, if you're like me (aka. not currently living in Corsica, Paris or southern France) you can substitute it with a good ricotta cheese. Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini says you can also use cottage cheese, but I'd use this as a third alternative. Somehow ricotta sounds better than cottage cheese. Not sure why... Just make sure you don't tell anyone from Corsica which cheese you used :-)
Now, not actually being Corsican, I didn't have a family recipe at hand that I could use, and was thus forced to search for one on the almighty Internet. I checked a few out before finally settling on this one from Chocolate & Zucchini, mostly because it was in English and I wouldn't have to spend time translating. Every recipe I checked out called for citrus zest (thought the amount needed ranged from an entire lemon to just one teaspoon) and eau-de-vie (fruit brandy). I'm sure it's blasphemy (again...) but you can use another type of brandy if you wish, or something else entirely, to jazz it up. I, ehm, added a few drops of, ehm, maple syrup, because a) I really like the taste and b) it went well with the other flavours. But that was a completely non-Corsican thing to do. Finally, there was a question of how many eggs to add. This one uses 4 eggs, whilst others use more yolks than whites – 4 egg yolks, 2 egg whites – for a more creamy and 'heavy' cake. It's up to you.
C'est si bon!
*The word brocciu is related to the French word brousse, meaning fresh cheese made with goat or ewe's milk. Just in case you were, you know, wondering.
|Fiadone (Corsican ''Cheesecake'') |
Recipe by Chocolate & Zucchini
125 g. sugar
500 g. brocciu (substite with riccotta cheese, or cottage cheese if you cannot get the former)
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. eau-de-vie (or any other fruit brandy)
A pinch of salt
1.Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 25-cm round cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2.Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Whisk the yolks with the sugar, add the cheese, and whisk until smooth. Add the zest and eau-de-vie, and whisk again.
3.Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter with a spatula, lifting the batter gently up and over the egg whites until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining egg whites.
4.Pour into the pan, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (mine usually takes 30 minutes), until the top is golden and brown at the edges, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer on a rack, run a knife around to loosen, and let cool completely on the counter. Chill for at least an hour. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving, and serve directly from the pan.