In Which One Bakes a Birthday Cake Full of Blessings…

Best eaten warm, slathered with lashes of butter and orange marmalade...

Best eaten warm, slathered with lashings of butter and orange marmalade…

I’m having a bit of a problem beginning this particular blog post in light of the fact that several people have dropped off from my personal Facebook page for the basic reason that I have spoken out and quite frankly declared that I am a Roman Catholic, I take comfort in my faith, and I bridle up against anyone who slurs it.  It’s sad, but it’s issues like these that let me know who my real friends are, the ones who will stand by me no matter what happens.

My parents are among them. My mother in whom I confide my fondest dreams and my most cherished hopes and my father who is there to give me hugs whenever I need them, who reminds me to pray, to be strong despite the raging tide of insults I have had to deal with for most of my life.  I am actually crying as I type out this particular blog entry because I take comfort in the fact that there are still people who care about me and how I feel regardless of how badly I see myself and how wickedly I am maligned by others.

Since it’s Dad’s birthday today, I wasn’t quite sure as to what to get him for this year.  As a result, I decided to do a bit of baking earlier today to clear my mind and do something a little different.  The end result was this fragrant Mediterranean-style pastry-cake that smells scrumptiously of cinnamon and orange.

Fanouropita, is a Greek dessert that is normally baked in honor of St. Fanourios, the Eastern Orthodox patron of lost things, causes, and unmarried women seeking good husbands.  Like I said in the previous paragraph, it is a cross between cake and pastry (in fact, it bakes up into something which is a cross between a Yankee biscuit and Irish soda bread) made with orange juice and olive oil.  I’ve decided to rename my tweaked-up version Torta di San Antonio de Padua in honor of the Roman Catholic patron of lost things and who also happens to be the patron saint of my brother’s current parish.  I couldn’t really name it after St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus and patron of good husbands (his feast day was yesterday) because he already has the doughnut-like sfinghe made in his honor.

I said my morning prayers as I pressed the dough for this cake into the pan I’d prepared, asking for blessings for my dad on his birthday, to thank God for the blessing of family and friends who continue to care no matter how flawed I am, and to ask for someone to love me and accept me in his life – flaws and all.

Torta di San Antonio de Padua

  • 3-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon rock salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or bottled pulpy orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350°/Gas Mark 4.  Grease and flour a medium-sized cake tin; set aside. with olive oil and dust with flour, knocking out any excess.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and sugar.  Add olive oil, orange juice, and vanilla and stir to combine.  Work the batter into a dough, kneading it with your hands.  Press into your prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes in the oven.  Turn out onto a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar.  Serve with butter, jam, or honey.
Serves 12.
Incidentally…  Any leftovers may be sliced thinly and re-baked in a 325°/Gas Mark 3 oven for 15 minutes to become a biscotti-style cookie I call tavolette di San Antonio. 

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