have eaten this cake since my earliest childhood recollections. All major occasions seem to call for this cake, a wedding, a funeral, major holidays, any Sunday...Any excuse to reach for this very rich dessert.
The variation of this cake seems to be as varied as there are bakers in this world. This one is my adaptation!
Less heavy, more versatile.
I omitted the candied fruit as there are so many people that have an aversion for it. Personally I am not a fan of candied fruit either. Most people push the fruit to the side of the dish as they pick the rich cheese cake with a fork and carry it to their mouth with expectation. But a little decorative touch with candied fruit, on top of the cake will make it more attractive.
Almost 30 years ago, I put together my wedding within one month.
I originally wanted to have a small unpretentious wedding and invite only immediate family to a restaurant reception.
My brother Pippo who lives in Rome, arrived 1 month prior to the wedding. I never suspected his reasons for early arrival. But as soon as he arrived we started shopping preparing for the wedding and day by day he convinced me to have a wedding at my parents home on the lake. We prepped the house with new upholstery. We cleaned the grounds and planted new flowers. We stocked the auxiliary freezer with fish, shellfish, meats, etc...We ordered flowers, and bought champagne and liquor. My mother-in-law hand made my 1960's short wedding dress. I had the invitations printed for 125 people, I prepared the favors copied from one I had seen at Perugina. We found a DJ to play the music, rented the tents and party supplies for the guests. My brother found one of his fashion photographers to take the pictures and I went hunting for the cake.
I really did not want just a regular wedding cake, so I searched for a Sicilian baker that had quite a reputation and asked him to make me a cake with ricotta cheese and rum. I gave him directions, chose the tiers and look of the cake I wanted, paid a pretty penny for it and left, never seeing the gentleman again until the day of the wedding.
On the night before the wedding the whole family cooked all the food for the reception. Baked pasta, breads, seafood, fish, meats, salads, vegetables. No one slept until early morning for a few hours until it was time to start setting up for the ceremony and the reception and then get ready for the wedding. My mother tells me she never even got tired that day, the adrenalin and happiness of her first daughter getting married gave her the energy.
The day of the wedding it poured rain like in a monsoon. We were short on flowers so we went out to purchase more. My dress I picked up from the cleaners and the counter girl could not find it. I panicked went home and waited for them to call me. When it was found it had a large yellow stain in the middle of my legs. I was devastated but it was a good thing it was hidden by the tulle skirt.
The bouquet I ordered from the florist arrived, but did not look like the one I ordered.
The cake also arrived but I was sure they had made a delivery mistake, it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen, not at all what I had asked for, it had hideous live size plastic doves on top. What had happened to my bride and groom?
By the time I settled down to the realization that everything was going wrong, it was time for the ceremony. I took a quick shower put my dress on, that was slipping off of me for having lost 20 pounds during the one month preparation, held it in place with my armpits and ran downstairs with my hair wet. Someone put my veil on and I stepped out to meet my husband to be, among a crowd of onlookers.
I remember being asked if I would take this person as my lawfully wedded husband and I became hysterically nervous within my brain. "If I say yes to this commitment I will be this man's wife for the rest of my life, what do I do? Think, quick think" Then I thought back to the two years I had known him and that I had rationally made that decision prior to this day, so I said "Yes" and calmed down.
For many years after my wedding everyone remembered that wedding as the most fun wedding, they ever attended. They raved about the food, the liquor, the grounds, the dancing, the cake. I had worried about details that no one else seemed to care about.
Today I think back on that day when my brother arrived one month in advance, I thought of it as odd, but never questioned why he had arrived so early. I suspect though my parents had something to do with it, and since they had given up trying to convince me that they wanted to celebrate my day in a big way, they put my brother up to it, to be their accomplice. He played his part so well I never imagined it was a family plot.
Today I’m glad it happened that way. It showed me the strength of the family bond and the love and support of my family. That day I gave my parents the gift of celebration, they gave me a wonderful memory, and 30 years later, I don't regret my decision of having said "Yes".