Among travellers, Corsica is well known and loved for its wild mountains, beautiful landscapes and great beaches. Besides that the French island also scores with its local foods and traditional dishes. If you count yourself as a cheesecake-lover, you have to try the corsican fiadone, a cake of the typical brocciu cheese. Read on to find out more about the story behind fiadone and a recipe to prepare this delicious corsican cheesecake!
Corsica – Some Historical Facts About The Home of Fiadone
It definetely is no exaggeration to say that Corsica, the birthplace of famous emperour Napoleon, can look back to a turbulent and fascinating past. Inhabitated for more than 5000 years, Corsica and its population had faced different colonists since around 540 BC. This is owed to the unpractical geographic conformation of the island, which made Corsica rather hard to defend.This is why throughtout the years it suffered from the harsh rule of differing kingdoms, such as Genoa, the French and even the British. After a short time of independence in the 18th century Corsica became part of the French national territory.
The island of Corsica, in comparison to to the French mainland, is very sparsly populated. There are not really big cities and even the capital has no more than 65,000 inhabitants. But although being few, the Corsican people are very proud of their land and naturally retain very close to it. This is the reason why the island has escaped mass exploitation as the Corsicans simply refuse to sell their inheritance.
The Corsican Cuisine
Although Corsica makes one of the 18 regions of France its cuisine does not really resemble to the French and is actually closer to the traditional Italian way of cooking. Its typical plates and dishes mainly contain the goods of the Islands. Due to the geographic conformation of Corsica, a low eastern coast facing the continent thus being impossible to defend, and severe struggles with malaria close to the coast, the people had to settle in the mountains of the interior. This is reflected by the traditional Corsican dishes that are mostly based on typical and traditional ingredients of the island.
Brocciu – The Main Ingredient of Fiadone
The most important ingredient to make the Corsican cheesecake is brocciu. Brocciu is a typical Corsican cheese made of goat’s or sheep’s milk and whey. It can be consumed either fresh or matured and can also serve as a lactose-free replacement for ricotta. Its texture is smooth, creamy and crumbly. The name ‘brocciu’, pronounced ‘brooch’, is related to the French word for fresh cheese, ‘brousse’.
Brocciu is an essential part of Corsica’s culinary heritage. Many centuries ago, shepherds started making brocciu to actually avoid food waste and use the treasured milk. The Corsican shepherds gave the methods and secrets of making brocciu from generation to generation. Traditionally the production of this creamy cheese takes place from November to June. You can either eat brocciu right after its done, or ripened. The name of the ripened version of the cheese is ‘brocciu passu’.
In 1983 brocciu gained the label of AOC, ‘appelation d’origine controlée’, which is a certificate of authenticity. Twenty years later, in 2003 followed the label of AOP, ‘appelation d’origine protegée’. Both of those certificates stress the significance of brocciu to the Corsican island.
The Corsican cheesecake-equivalent: Fiadone
Fiadone is a typical Corsican dessert that resembles some ricotta cakes from Italy. It is crustless and its thickness normally does not measure more than an inch. Other main ingredients of fiadone, besides bocciu, are eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Also it is quite common to find fiadone recipes in which local Corsican liqueurs are used to flavour the base. Back in the old days the Corsican got out their fiadone recipes mainly to prepare it on holidays. Nowadays the dish has become quite a popular dessert for any occasion.
The Recipe of Corsican Fiadone
Before getting to the recipe and knowing, that it might be pretty hard to find brocciu outside of Corsica or France:
You can use good ricotta, good cottage cheese or a mixture of the two if you do not have access to the Corsican brocciu. But if you have and want to keep your Corsican friends, we advise you not to call the result a fiadona in front of them.
As ingredients for this Corsican fiadone recipe you need:
- 4 eggs
- 125 grams sugar
- 500 grams brocciu (or the above named substitute)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon eau-de-vie (additionally)
- a pinch of salt
How Proceed With The Fiadone Recipe
Start with preheating the oven to 180C. Next grease a 25 cm round cake pan and cover the bottom with parchment paper.
To prepare the dough separate the egg yolks from the whites. Whisk the yolks with the sugar and the cheese until smooth. After this, add the zest and eau-de-vie and mix well.
Following beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they stay in soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the dough. Keep in mind to add all the eggwhite at once but rather divided in 2 or 3 portions.
Pour the batter in the pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Once the top is golden and brown at the edges you can take it out the oven. To be sure, you can always do the knife check, if you insert one in the center and it comes out clean, the cake should be perfectly baked! Transfer the pan on a rack and run a knife around the cake to loosen it from the bakin tin. Chill for at least one hour. Keep your fiadona in the fridge, but remember to put it out about 30 minutes before serving to get the best flavour!