In these times of financial crisis (especially here in Italy), some Italians are looking back to the old ways - the ways of their grandmothers, whose frugality in the kitchen not only fed their families, but is the basis of the "rustic" Italian cooking we know and love today. I was having coffee at a friend's house the other day, and she offered me a piece of Torta di Pane, or "bread" cake - one of the original recipes per non sprecare nulla (to not waste anything)! Since the basis of this recipe is old bread, I dubbed it "Umbrian" (it is Italian, but not necessarily Umbrian); and since there is a little chocolate and it looks familiar, I dubbed it "brownies." There are many variations on this recipe, and it is truly a recipe to make with whatever you have leftover in the house, so don't worry if you have to subsitute - a little of this, a little of that....
TORTA DI PANE:
350g old, dry bread. 500ml milk. 2 eggs. 3 Tbs olive oil. 6 Tbs sugar. 4 Tbs cocoa powder. 1 tsp cinnamon. 1 old banana, diced (or old pear, or raisins, nuts, etc). powdered sugar for dusting.
Cut the bread into slices or cubes and let soak in milk for about an hour. With your hands, break up the bread and "knead" it with the milk until it becomes homogenous. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Poor into a shallow baking pan (or brownie pan, if you will) and bake at 180C/350F for about 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. If you would like to unmold this dessert, line the baking dish with parchment paper first. Enjoy!
P.S. this dessert is actually kind of healthy too... shhhh!