For our Best Fest celebration, I made Sweet Wine Cakes, from Cato's De Agricola.
- 1lb (500g) wholemeal bread flour
- 2oz (50g) lard
- 1oz (25g) grated cheese
- Must: either grape juice and yeast or partially fermented Lambrusco (I used sweet sherry)
- Ground cumin
- Bay leaves
Rub the lard into the flour. Stir in the grated cheese, aniseed and cumin. Try 1 teaspoon each of the spices at first but increase the amount for a more highly flavoured dough. Personally, I like these cakes highly spiced and use at least 1 dessertspoon aniseed and 1-2 tablespoons cumin. Make a well in the flour.
When the dough has risen, knead well. The wine dough, in particular, will need a lot of extra flour kneading in. Cut and shape portions of the kneaded dough to a suitable size to fit each one on a bay leaf.
Bake in a heated oven at 450F. The time will depend on the size of your bay leaves and, therefore, the size of your wine cakes. I suggest you check small cakes at 10-15 minutes, larger ones may need 20-30 minutes.
For the finishing touch, I topped each one with an almond slice. This made a great addition, as the almonds got toasted, and the roasted almond taste went well with the spice of the cakes.
The cakes were relatively successful. They tasted much like scones that you get at the coffee shop, but with a weird cumin taste to it. The anise didn't really come through, because I used very little of it. I'm not a big fan of anise. They were dry, and crumbly. The bay leaves added a nice touch. I tried eating one with the bay leaf still in it, and one without. The bayleaf was kind of crunchy, but still pleasant. Either way, the aroma of the bay leaf permeated the cakes to give them a delightful spicy taste.
I served these up at the Meet & Greet where we got to meet Dr. Betini. I hope you got to try one!