While I’m writing this, my hands are shaking and my heart is racing because it’s a damned-if-you-do, and you’re damned-if-you-don’t. It’s so incredibly good that I can’t keep it all to myself, but I feel that if even one more person knows about it, I will have to compete with them for its limited supply.
Come closer….much closer…very close to the screen. I recommend having a Kleenex nearby for any stray drool.
I present to you…La Torta Setteveli, or the Seven Veils cake! (Sometimes written Sette Veli)
I want to swim in its layers, wrestle in it, and lick the spoon! I would sell a sibling for unlimited access to it. (Email me and we’ll talk, I have one in mind)
We made the mistake of actually eating lunch that day, and not just any lunch, a “first-time-meeting-Sicilian-friend’s-mother-burning-off-calories-for-months” lunch, so I
sensibly stupidly decided to split half of this piece. After the first bite, its perceived size grew miniscule. I instinctively started to hunch over the plate, inserting my shoulder between him and divinity, crowding out my cake-mate. Mine…mine! My precious…..Sette veli!
Luca Mannori (from Prato, Tuscany) is the name most credited with this cake, and he was interviewed in English here about it. A cake so special its name is actually trademarked, though they can’t stop all the imitations. In 1997 he won the Coupe de Monde (World Pastry Cup) in Lyon (see site for seriously lickable creations) with Luigi Biasetto and Cristian Beduschi. There is even a Pastry World Cup Training Center in Brescia and Calabria with classes for those interested.
Though Cappello is from Palermo, Sicily, and is not credited as part of the winning team, his name often appears when speaking about the Setteveli and the cake has become almost a Palermitano tradition, with numerous variations all over the city. Even Gambero Rosso talks about Cappello’s Setteveli on p.103 in the “Italia del Gambero Rosso” guide for Sicily, which just came out on Friday with Sole 24 Ore. Pasticceria Cappello has a recipe page, but you won’t find the recipe of Sette Veli on it.
After my trip was long over, I would open up this picture and drool like a Pavlovian cousin….awaiting my next trip. Palermo and back in a weekend? No problem. I could even train it if there are no flights. 23 hours each way is nothing. No, seriously.
Then I decided to make it myself.
I started to do research…lots of research. I even found a video of Luca himself that explains how to make the Setteveli. It couldn’t be easier, right? Faith talks about it. There is talk all over the forums in Italian, and even some other attempts at it.
I planned for each of its layers. I schemed, I dreamed, and I dreaded. Even as I scooped gelatin leaves and hazelnuts and cream and butter and chocolate and flour into my shopping cart, I knew I was over my head. Oh, how I wished I were a Daring Baker!
It’s called so for its seven layers of goodness (note: I’ve seen some say each layer has a different layer of chocolate, but that’s not true)
- Chocolate Glasse
- Chocolate Mousse
- Chocolate disk
- Hazelnut bavarian cream
- Chocolate disk
- Hazelnut bavarian cream
- Cereal praline
- Chocolate sponge cake
Of course, when avoiding reality, we procrastinate, and get the stomach flu, in my case this weekend. In compensation, I made a coffee cake, a homemade lasagna and soup from scratch in 24 hours, all avoiding my lurking mountain of ingredients, double-barred in my cupboard and peering at me from my fridge’s shelves. I had a brief reprieve until I could try again.
October is a nice month for me, and not just because it’s my birthday month. October will now become the month of the Sette Veli!
There are also going to be two contests on Ms. Adventures in Italy (contests = free stuff). The contest in the second half of October is a secret (ssh!) and I’ll tell you more about that later. The first contest is starting right now and going until October 12th and it’s all about the Sette Veli!
Give me your help, your wisdom, your comments and your support on my quest to make the Sette Veli. Do you have a favorite recipe for one of the layers mentioned above? A praline that is crunchalicious, a mousse to suffocate in? If you want to join me, more the merrier! Help me put the pieces together!! In return I’ve got an 18-month Moleskine notebook for you, and maybe some other treats, too!
I think it’s time for a road trip to Prato.
Via Alessandro Lazzerini, 2 – 51900 Prato (PO)
Via Colonna Rotta, 68 – 90100 Palermo