Grandma was from what is now Serbia, near Novi Sad. She came to the US in the early 1900's, very young, with at least one of her three children. I remember her most for her strudel, made with the dough stretched so thin you could read a paper through it. She would coax the dough using the tablecloth underneath it, to roll over the filling, usually apple or poppy seed, though I believe at times she made a cabbage or cheese strudel as well. This site has photos of someone making a strudel with Filo dough, but the method and look of it are the most like what I recall. I recall one time at age 8 watching the process. I wish with all my being I had ever been there when I was old enough to really learn from her. She made many other little pastries of different kinds too.
|Grandma's Nut Torta and Icing|
And then sometimes she would make a pie or a cake. I really cannot even recall what kind of pies she made, though I was with her when she made some one day. What I recall most of cakes was what she called Nut Torta (click to see the recipe). Most often this cake was made with black walnuts, which I never liked, and thus, I did not like this cake. (Walnuts or pecans can be substituted, and I am told she did use those on occasion, but I only recall the black walnuts).The torta was not a traditional cake, as it used no flour. It consisted mainly of ground nuts and eggs. Ten eggs, to be exact. The icing she made was also not a traditional icing as I know them today, but made in a two step process. First she made a milk and cornstarch pudding and cooled it. Next she would cream together shortening and sugar. Once the shortening and sugar were thoroughly combined, she added in the cornstarch pudding mixture. To me, this always made a most greasy feel in my mouth, and again, I just didn't care for it at all.
In the spirit of keeping recipes alive, and since my sister had this recipe in her files, I finally made this cake a few days back. Everything about it was just as I recalled, except I found I no longer really dislike black walnuts!
|A bite of the torta|
- I believe this would be easily made gluten-free using psyllium husks instead of cracker meal
- the icing is curious, but I wonder if butter in place of the shortening would still feel as greasy, or would the flavor make enough of a difference?
My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.