Catholic Recipe: St. Laurence Sweets

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound chestnuts (or 1 six-ounce can pureed chestnuts)
  • Milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flower water, or 1 teaspoon orange extract and grated rind of 1/2 orange
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup cornstarch (see Note)
  • Orange marmalade (optional)
  • Confectioners' sugar

Details

Yield: 20 slices

Prep Time: N/A

Difficulty: • • •

Cost: $$$$

For Ages:n/a

Origin:

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Food Categories (3)

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Feasts (1)

Also Called: Bizcocho de San Lorenzo

Evelyn Vitz shares this Spanish recipe for the feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon, on August 10. There is no wheat flour, so this classifies as a glutton free recipe.

But in Spain they make in his honor a chestnut-flavored Bizcocho de San Lorenzo. Now the word bizcocho, like our word biscuit, really means "twice-cooked"! Is the pun intended? In any case, you can either serve cold dishes, to help cool off St. Laurence; or you can serve twice-cooked or barbecued dishes, to signify his triumph over the fire. After all, St. Laurence is one of the patron saints of cooks!

This unusual and delicious recipe is adapted from the Spanish classic Manuel de Cocina, Recetario.

DIRECTIONS

If you are using fresh chestnuts (which may be hard to get at this time of year), proceed as follows: cut an X into the surface of each chestnut. Cover the chestnuts with cold water in a saucepan. Bring them to a boil and boil for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Take out the chestnuts one at a time and remove the shell and the skin.

Return the peeled chestnuts to a saucepan. Cover them with milk, and cook gently until they are just soft enough to be put through a sieve or puréed in a food mill. Purée, and reserve.

Combine the sugar, orange-flower water, and eggs in a large saucepan. Beat vigorously with a whisk over low heat until the mixture is light and spongy. Add the chestnut puree, and then the cornstarch, a little at a time. Blend thoroughly, and pour the mixture into a generously buttered ring mold.

Place the mold in a pan of hot water in the oven, and bake at 350° F. until the chestnut mixture is set, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When the Bizcocho has cooled, turn it out of the mold, and cut it into slices about 3/4 inch thick. If you like spread the slices with marmalade. Sprinkle them with confectioners' sugar.

Yield: about 20 slices

Note: This seems like an astonishing amount of cornstarch to the American cook, but the cornstarch takes the place of flour, and makes a delicate, fine-textured cake.

Recipe Source: Continual Feast, A by Evelyn Birge Vitz, Ignatius Press, San Francisco , 1985