This is a Tessa Kiros recipe for a traditional, if unconventional, cake from Chioggia, a Northern Italian town famous for its radicchio. It has the simple topping of an easy, thick glaze of melted white chocolate—even for those who aren't fans of white chocolate, it's an addition that works beautifully with this otherwise quite plain, moist radicchio cake. But you could also dust with powdered sugar or do a simple lemon glaze here too.
This recipe comes from Tessa Kiros' Linenwater and Limoncello cookbook, dedicated to her mother in law and really to all Italian "nonne" and women in the kitchen. I have only made one quite different modification, which is to add lemon juice to the water where the radicchio leaves are blanched. This acidic bath keeps the radicchio a bright pink—otherwise, they can turn greenish blue, especially if you happen to live in a place with hard water (I do), or use unprocessed sugar, which can be slightly basic rather than neutral. Radicchio, like red cabbage and other fruit and vegetables that contain anthocyanin, can change color from red to blue in acidic and basic environments. It does not affect the flavor at all. For me, this was simply a question of aesthetic, keeping the radicchio a deep magenta, and the extra squeeze of lemon is quite a welcome flavor. Tessa also adds a splash of brandy to her cake. —Emiko
Heat oven to 350° F and prepare a cake tin (8-inches in diameter) by greasing it with a teaspoon of the butter and lining it with baking paper.
Bring a saucepan of water to boil, add 2 teaspoons of the sugar and all the lemon juice to the water. Pull off the radicchio leaves in from their head and blanch in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain very well, then chop finely.
Cream the remaining butter and sugar in a bowl, adding the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth and creamy. Add the lemon zest, vanilla, nutmeg and then gently fold in the flour and baking powder. When just combined, add the chopped radicchio.
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for roughly 45 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing from the tin.
To prepare the glaze, melt the white chocolate (in a microwave or over a double boiler) and leave it to cool slightly, until it pours slowly and will coat the cake thickly. Begin to cover the top of the cake with this glaze and allow it to cool.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.