The cake boss in the Roman centurion version at the Anema e Core tavern

by Marco Milano

Buddy Valastro, better known as “The Cake Boss”, has returned to Capri. The New Jersey pastry chef let loose at the “Anema e Core” tavern alongside patron Gianluigi Lembo, to the rhythm of “My Way” and “New York New York”. Rockets, themed bottles and dressing up as a Roman centurion made the Capri evening even more original.

Buddy and Gianluigi Lembo with the cake

Buddy’s coming to the blue island was actually a return. “The cake boss”, in fact, had been on the rock dear to Emperor Tiberius already in 2017, during an Italian stay, coming from Altamura in Puglia.

Buddy's Carlo's Bakery

And it is not a stretch if we underline the common thread of exquisite gastronomic connection between the two Italian stages of “The Cake Boss”, Altamura the homeland of bread and Capri the island of Caprese cake but also of Caprese salad and other delicacies that Buddy was able to enjoy when he landed in Capri under the lemon grove of the “Da Paolino” restaurant, the historic restaurant in Palazzo a Mare owned by Lino, Michela and Arianna De Martino, where, among other things, a character known as “The boss of the cakes” was able to enjoy the “dessert room”.

Buddy the pie boss sings in the tavern

The last but not least, it is appropriate to say, of the “Da Paolino” restaurant which has always made the pastry offering one of its flagships, first with the “dessert cart”, a vast choice that was offered to the table and, then, for a few years, with a real paradise for gourmands, an entire room dedicated to traditional desserts, but also to innovative and modern pastry making, a mix of classic and timeless cakes combined with creations born from flair of contemporary pastry making to satisfy all palates and dessert enthusiasts and convinced that the worthy conclusion of a dinner is always sweetening the mouth.

The desserts of the Da Paolino restaurant

As far as Altamura is concerned, it is the right occasion to remember the candidacy of its bread for UNESCO intangible heritage status launched at the beginning of 2024. “Bread, as a basic element of the diet of the populations of Alta Murgia, traditionally produced in large pieces , in its characteristic form, called “u sckuanète”, was mainly kneaded by women within the home, and cooked in public ovens – as stated in the Altamura dop bread specifications guaranteed by the Protection Consortium – The first reference to the place of origin of the product, if not exactly attributable to Altamura but certainly to the Murgian territory, can be found in book I, V of the ‘Satires’ of the Latin poet Horace, who in the spring of 37 BC, in revisiting the landscape of his childhood, notes the existence of ‘the best bread in the world, so much so that the diligent traveler brings a supply with him for the rest of the journey’.

Altamura DOP bread Re-milled semolina from Altamura

The main characteristic of bread, preserved over time, was its durability, essential to ensure the sustenance of farmers and shepherds in the weeks they spent away from home, working in the fields or pastures on the Murgia hills. The lunch of these workers essentially consisted of a bread soup flavored with olive oil and salt. Until the middle of the last century you could hear the baker’s cry in the streets of Altamura announcing, at dawn, that the bread had been baked.
Altamura bread, the result of a tradition that dates back to the 1st century BC, is still produced today following the ancient recipe handed down from generation to generation by farmers and shepherds since the Middle Ages. The ingredients have remained unchanged over the centuries – re-milled durum wheat semolina, mother yeast, salt and water – as has the manufacturing process, divided into five phases: kneading, moulding, leavening, moulding, cooking in a wood-fired oven”.

Wheat field

Of Buddy who landed in Capri it should be remembered, of course, that the inspiration for the series “The Cake Boss” was his pastry shop “Carlo’s Bake Shop”, aka “Carlo’s Bakery”, a pastry shop in Hoboken in New Jersey and that among his cult recipes include butter biscuits. “It all started with a cookie. Everything I am professionally. Everything I am capable of doing in the pastry shop – Buddy said in his book published by Gribaudo ‘The Best Recipes of the Cake Boss’ – Every wedding cake, every themed cake that he has ever conceived and created. It all started from the first thing I was taught when I started working in my family’s pastry shop: making butter biscuits.” And strictly citing the source, book “The Best Recipes of the Cake Boss”, author Buddy Valastro, publishing house “Gribaudo”, here is the recipe:

BUTTER BISCUITS

2 cups unsalted butter

1 cup of sugar

3/4 cup marzipan

4 large egg whites

3 1/2 cups cake flour (non-substitute)

1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa

Place the tray in the oven at half height and preheat to 180°C.

Cream the butter, sugar and marzipan in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (you can use an electric mixer if you let the butter soften at room temperature before starting). Start at low speed and after two minutes increase to medium speed; then work the ingredients for about five minutes, until they are smooth: the mixture should have the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Reduce the speed to minimum and pour in about a quarter of the egg whites. Run for a minute, then turn off and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Restart at low speed, adding another quarter of the egg whites; after a minute stop and scrape the inside of the bowl again. Repeat until you have added all the egg whites, working for an additional minute to ensure the dough is soft.

Add the flour and blend until it is well absorbed and the dough becomes soft again. The dough can be wrapped in cling film and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month; bring it back to room temperature before using it for this recipe.
Transfer half the dough into a pastry bag with a star nozzle (no. 7). Prepare one or two non-stick biscuit trays. Squeeze twelve six cm disks of dough into each. in diameter, spaced about four cm apart. from each other, lined up in four rows of three biscuits each.

Proceeding with two batches if necessary, cook the biscuits for about twelve minutes, until the lower side takes on an intensely golden color (to check the browning, if necessary, lift them extremely delicately, using a rubber spatula) and the crests formed by the star nozzle have reduced to a slight wavy pattern. Remove from the oven and, as soon as you can remove the biscuits, transfer them with the spatula to a wire rack to cool. Make sure the pan is completely cold before using it again for the next batch.

In the meantime, add the cocoa to the other half of the mixture and mix to combine it well. Remove any remnants of the previous mixture from the piping bag, then fill it with chocolate paste. Repeat the above steps to make chocolate chip cookies.

These cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to two weeks.


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