Scale Up to a Rustic Italian Cake- Lemon Buccellato with Blackberry Sauce

Lemon Buccellato. Here we go. This is the first day in my quest to become a better baker. All the best bakers use weight measurements. So I got myself a kitchen scale. You can get one too if you want to follow along and become a better baker. I chose the EatSmart Precision Pro Scale. I have even added this scale to my OpenSky Shop so it is easy for you to add a scale to your life too. Just CLICK here. To make it even easier, I have a 10% off coupon code you can use. Just type SIPPITY10 in the coupon code box at check out.

There may come a time when my baking skills outgrow this scale (keep your fingers crossed).

But in the meantime I chose this scale because it seems like a great entry-level piece of equipment. You got to learn to crawl before you walk… so I chose a scale that’s easy to use, that’s reliable and is digital. Besides, at $27.99 (even before the discount) it cannot be beat for function and form. Because let’s face it, this scale is sleek and good-looking. Sup! likes that.

flour on scaleI mentioned that this scale was digital. This is important to me. Because I am just getting used to the idea of a scale in my kitchen. Digital scales like this one have a tare feature which allows you to re-set the scale to zero after each addition of ingredient. Which means you don’t need to do math, keep track of numbers in your head, or dirty up a million bowls just to make a simple cake.

And that’s where I am starting this question with a simple rustic Italian cake. It’s called a Lemon Buccellato, and it’s a traditional recipe dating back to medieval times. It has come to represent the coming of spring. So it seemed like a great choice for today.

Lemon Buccellato

This is one of those recipes. It seems there are as many versions as there are cooks. The word Buccellato means shot through with holes (roughly translated) and has evolved into a generic quality term meaning almost any sort of rustic cake with its bread-like lemon cuccellato caketexture. I have to admit it is recipes like this one that convinced me to get a scale. I collect cookbooks on my travels and outside of North America weight is far more prevalent. I want to expand my culinary tastes and these books help me do that. I have a Croatian pasta cake coming next. So get yourself a scale and we’ll make that one in a few weeks.

Today’s cake is a Lemon Buccellato. It is slightly sweet. Yeast is used in the preparation giving this cake the bread-like crumb  I mentioned. It is not really a â€œcake” in the modern North American sense though. There is no frosting, or frilly decorations. In other words this is my kind of cake.

I have to warn you though, it’s a dense cake with a sophisticated palate of flavors. It is dense by design. A dense texture is necessary because this cake is soaked in Vin Santo, an Italian dessert wine, before being served with blackberry sauce and cream.

Now I can’t promise how much a better baker I will become in this process. But I believe this scale will help move me forward along that path. I am not saying I am giving up my measuring cups entirely. Most of my recipes from here on out will still use volume (at least for the foreseeable future). But I will use weight from this day forward in many of my baking projects. So get yourself a scale and join me on this journey.

First stop Tuscany.

lemon cake with blackberriesLemon Buccellato with Blackberries, Cream and Vin Santo serves 6 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 1 pint fresh blackberries, rinsed and dried
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 400 g all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 50 g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature, plus more for bowl
  • 10 g dry activated yeast, at room temperature
  • milk, at room temperature
  • 1 pn salt
  • 2 pn baking soda
  • 1 zest and juice of lemon, separated
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • vin santo
  • barely sweetened whipped cream for garnish
  • additional whole blackberries for garnish, optional

Put the blackberries and 50 grams of sugar into a saucepan set over medium heat. Cook the mixture stirring occasionally. Once the blackberries begin to release their juice mash them with a spoon until the mixture is soft and just begins to boil. Remove from heat and press the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth-lined strainer. Set aside. This sauce may be kept covered in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Place a large mixing bowl onto a scale. Using the tare feature, return the reading to zero. Sift in 400 grams of flour. Tare the scale to zero. Add 150 grams of sugar. Tare the scale to zero, then add 50 grams of butter.

Using a fork or a pastry blender work the mixture into a dry coarse sandy consistency, with the butter well-distributed.

In a small glass or on a small plate, mix just enough milk into the yeast to form a paste. Scrape this mixture into the flour mixture, followed by salt, baking soda, lemon zest and juice. Add the eggs, stirring until just combined.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it become smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and place it into a buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dry cloth allowing it to sit undisturbed about 4 hours.

At the end of the waiting period preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Transfer the rested dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it again for a few minutes. Shape the dough into a 12″ x 4″ inch log, placing it onto a baking sheet. Bake in the oven about 40 minutes. Then allow the cake to cool about 30 minutes before serving. This cake really is best served warm, but it’s not mandatory.

To serve, cut off both ends of the cake, saving them for another purpose. Slice the remainder into 12 equal pieces. Pour about 1‑inch of Vin Santo into a bowl large enough to accommodate 1 slice of cake laying flat. Dip each slice into the wine, turning it once to allow it soak up the wine. Repeat with the additional slices adding more wine as needed.

Lay 2 slices of cake on each of 6 plates. Drizzle a little of the blackberry sauce alongside and top with a dollop of the whipped cream and (optionally) additional whole blackberries.


Greg Henry


Lemon Buccellato