Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fennel and Potato Cake (Torta di patate e finocchi)

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This is an incredible dish.  Slightly exotic with the deep flavor of fennel, creamy custard like egg center and the crispy layer of baked potatoes on top, all resting in a bed of simple pastry dough.

This works wonderfully as a vegetarian main dish (very filling for Meatless Mondays).  It can be made in a pie or tort pan, sliced and served as a Contorni (vegetable side dish for an Italian meal).  Go ahead and double up, make two and it works fantastic for breakfast (it is basically a frittata wrapped in pastry and topped in potatoes).

But Mostly... Delicious!

Keep scrolling down for this easy to follow recipe.

Here's what I did...

Fennel and Potato Cake 
(Torta di patate e finocchi)

  • For the Dough...
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup (One stick) Butter
  • 1 Large Egg YOLK ONLY
  • pinch of Salt
  • TBS of COLD water as needed
  • For the Filling...
  • 3 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Red Onions, halved and sliced into half rings
  • 1 Medium Fennel Bulb, halved and sliced into half rings
  • 1 TBS Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 2 Long medium sized Russet Potatoes, Par Boiled for 15 minutes, then sliced thin
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Half and Half
  • 1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese freshly grated
  • 2 TBS Butter, sliced thin
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • extra fresh Herbs for Garnish Either Thyme leaves of Basil slivers
Cooking Directions
  1. This is an easy dish to make and can look spectacular with the layered potato slices, but there are several tiny steps... First, make the dough. This comes together very easy in a food processor... Sift the flour and cut the COLD butter into small cubes
  2. In the food processor, place all the ingredients together except for the cold water, and run the machine at its slowest setting for about 2-3 minutes. you will notice that your mix will start looking like coarse crumbs.  As the dough continues to form the crumbs will become smaller and smaller. This is the only difficult part; in case the dough is not forming right (it is usually because of a small egg yolk), slowly add the cold water,¦ not all at once, just the rig amount for the dough to come alive and start detaching from the sides of the bowl.. BUT, be sure to wait at least a couple of minutes before you start to panic.
  3. Once the dough forms into a ball, smash into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. Par Boil the Potatoes for about 15 minutes, allow to cool a bit and slice into thin 1/4 inch slices.
  5. At the one hour mark, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  6. For the filling... In a large saute pan, heat the Olive Oil over medium high heat.
  7. Add the onions and fennel slices and saute for 8-10 minutes, until everything softens. Add a pinch of salt and a few twists of a pepper grinder.
  8. While that is cooking, whisk together the eggs, Half and Half, Parmesan Cheese and a pinch of salt and Pepper (Like you are making a Frttata.
  9. Next, remove the dough from the refrigerator and start to roll out. Dust some flour on a flat surface, lightly dust your wood rolling pin.  Do not press too hard,. Flip it a couple of times, dust it with flour, and mostly importantly do not guess the size, keep the buttered pan close and prop it on top of the dough from time to time. Keep in mind that you will have to roll the dough a bit wider, as the pan has edges that need to be completely covered.
  10. Transfer the dough to a tart pan. Poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork to keep the dough from bubbling up as it cooks.
  11. I like to put a thin layer of grated Parmesan cheese on the bottom this will help to keep the dough from getting soggy.
  12. Add the Fennel/Onion mix in the dough, spread evenly
  13. Add the egg mix and spread evenly
  14. Get creative and add a layer of potatoes, circular slightly overlapping
  15. Dot with thin butter slices, pinch of salt and pepper
  16. Bake
  17. Cook for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, check every five minutes or so during the last 15 minutes. Remove when the top becomes golden brown and delicious and crispy
  18. Serve HOT and ENJOY!


On so many levels, the crispy potatoes, the cheesy creamy eggs, the exotic Fennel and onions...

And so useful, breakfast leftovers, fantastic presentation fit for any dinner, a filling dish on it's own if you are going meatless.  But it's that total taste that sends this to my MUST MAKE AGAIN SOON LIST!


This simple recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Breakfast Ideas!"

It's the most important meal of the day.  From fancy to simple, there are always ways to dress up a breakfast dish.  These are the meals that make Bed and Breakfast Inns legendary (and usually easier than you think).

Here's your chance to make your guests Ooh and Aah!


And,  I am pleased to also list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Authentic Italian Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop. The world's most popular cuisine, authentic, natural, organic, Farm to Table... the Italians started, perfected or embraced it before it became a fad. This page is a guide to Italian Cooking... For the home cook!  So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!


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