The wonders of Italian cuisine generally don’t extend to breakfast time, but autumn colours and flavours can inspire some delicious spiced up (literally) versions of Italian breakfast classics, from a delicately aromatic maple syrup cappuccino to a rich nutty pastry.
Spiced Up Cappuccino
Autumn mornings start chilly here in the North, and a hearty caffeinated drink is the perfect accompaniment to lounging around in warm pyjamas until the sun has geared itself up. Flavoured coffees appeared in Italy far before the rise of Starbucks, in fact in Venice they have been around since the end of the 17th century. Coffee lists in bars will often have a macchiato with a dash of hazelnut liquor or amaretto. For a homemade version think cinnamon and maple syrup…
- 1 espresso
- 160 ml of milk
- cinnamon (or other spice)
- maple syrup to taste
The process is very simple: brew yourself a fresh espresso, be it using a mocha or a machine, and heat up milk enough for a large mug. While the milk is warming add cinnamon to taste and let it infuse for 5-10 minutes. Create your perfect cappuccino and then sprinkle with cinnamon and stir in maple syrup instead of sugar for sweetness. The cinnamon can of course be exchanged for a spice of your choice such as cardamom, star anise or nutmeg.
A chocolate filled croissant is about the only thing an Italian will deign to eat for breakfast, and autumnal varieties are really quite special. The maple syrup and walnut plait is pretty common but other delicacies include maple syrup and cinnamon pin wheels, hazelnut filled croissant (recipe here, albeit a Swiss version), fig and white chocolate tart (lovely recipe here that harks from Cornwall) and vanilla, blackberry and orange swirl (unfortunately couldn’t find an English recipe but take the traditional pain-au-raisin and replace the filling ingredients).
Pin wheels of varying flavours can be easily whipped up using ready-made puff pastry. Open out the rectangular sheet and spread over a thin layer of syrup and a thick dusting of cinnamon (alternatively chocolate drops and grated orange zest). Roll up the pastry and slice 2cm wide rounds. Place on a baking tray and cook until puffy and golden brown, then ice with a Philadelphia and icing sugar cream for extra luxury. Now think about munching on these in a warm kitchen looking out at a crisp chilly October morning.
The crostata is also a popular breakfast treat, and a delicious autumn variety involves almonds, cinnamon and blackberry jam.
INGREDIENTS (22 cm in diametre)
- 150 gr 00 flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 50 gr ground almonds
- 50 gr caster sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 75 gr butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 gr baking powder
- 1 jar of blackberry jam
- 1 egg yolk for egg wash
- Rub together the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the cinnamon, lemon zest and juice, almonds and baking powder and, at the end, the egg, and combine well.
- Form into a dough, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour.
- After resting, transfer the dough onto a well floured surface. Roll out into a large circle and place into a tart dish. Cut off the excess dough around the sides and retain to make a lattice form for the top of the tart.
- Spread a thick layer of blackberry jam over the base and lay over the lattice.
- Cover the pastry with an egg wash.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees.
- Serve with cream and shavings of white chocolate.