Saturday, 8 October 2011

‘sicilian brioche breakfast’ at la gelatiera

la gelatiera from the outside
the morning of the sicilian brioche breakfast turned out to be bright and sunny and really really warm. it was as if the gelato gods had aligned themselves with british weather to give me the perfect excuse to indulge myself. the italians generally indulge their sweet tooth at breakfast. when i was in turin with i we would have biscuits and espresso for breakfast. in sicily they eat what is essentially an gelato sandwich - a brioche with gelato in it. la gelatiera had brought together four food bloggers for a morning in their kitchen with italian patisserie chef leonard kadio. 

upon arrival i met with fola who had been in touch with all of us in coordinating our attendance. i was then introduced to chloe who is faerietable foodie. there was also claire and her other half who referred to himself as the plus one who eats. and ate we all did that morning. i have never tucked into as much dessert as i did in just that one morning at la gelatiera as they had quite the spread for us. we were offered coffee to start with. 

water to cleanse the palette
brutti ma buoni, amaretti's ugly cousins
to start we had some lovely biscuits part dipped in a really dark smooth chocolate. there were meringues too. i loved the brutti ma buoni which were described by simona as amaretti's ugly cousins. they were light and chewy and yet heavy with the nuttiness of hazelnuts. i loved the barozzi cake, an intense flourless chocolate cake made with ground almonds and a hint of coffee. the dark chocolate paired well with a zabaione. interestingly this was served cold unlike the one i had in turin which is served warm. 

somewhere between tucking into all these wonderful treats simona and antonio introduced us to the tuppo brioche. we were encouraged to feel it, to take it apart and to smell it. i had always thought that the dough for brioche is heavily enriched with butter but as simona told us, it really isn't that buttery. in fact the sicilian tuppo has a slightly loose texture that gives away softly when you bite into it. the secret it appears is in the working of the dough, the type of flour used coupled with the combination of milk and egg yolks which lead to soft dough with an easy yield. once we had orientated ourselves with the tuppo brioche we were all dressed in appropriate la gelatiera kitchen outfits. the aprons designed by nonna are so trendy it would do better on a chef's catwalk. the aprons are long and panelled with high necks that wrap around the neck. we had special paper caps too. suitably attired for the kitchen we were led downstairs to the baking area where leonard kadio was. 
simona introducing the tuppo brioche
talking about the 'tuppo' which is specific to sicilian brioche
acquainting ourselves with the tuppo brioche
our lovely hosts for the sicilian brioche breakfast
making tuppo brioche is an exact science. the dough has to be measured to exactly seventy grams and is then worked from the corners inwards in overlapping folds. it is then formed into a round dough ball through a particular motion where you cup your hand over the dough without touching the dough itself. you then rotate your hand in a circular motion whilst resting your wrist on the work space. the dough ball basically moves through the motion without coming into contact with the hand itself. it reminded me of how we make a 'pera' ( a dough ball that becomes roti) in pakistan. once you have a perfect dough ball you depress the centre which is where the 'tuppo' (little cap) rests. our creations were then put to rise once again. 
simona showing us the texture of the dough
simona showing us the texture of the dough
my tuppo brioche
our final treat for the day was the tuppo gelato itself. simona and antonio brought up a batch of brioche that had been baked that morning. a deep slit was made on one side to accomodate two very generous helpings of gelato. i let simona choose my flavours and the combination of mango and pistachio turned out to be very pleasing. it was remarkably pakistani in some ways as i have eaten mango ice-cream with a sprinkle of pistachio on it. i am very pleased to say that i managed to eat the entire brioche. what's more is that i managed to eat it without getting the gelato on my hands or clothes. the trick i've learnt is to squeeze the brioche ever so slightly so that the gelato pushes to the outside after which you can lick it like you would do a cone. i was also surprised to find that the brioche helps temper the sweetness of the gelato so that the whole brioche breakfast is actually much less sweeter than i had anticipated. in fact the sweetness of the gelato accentuates the saltiness of the brioche. 
claire's tuppo with gelato
my tuppo with pistachio and mango gelato
la gelatiera's photographs of the sicilian brioche breakfast can be found on flickr here

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