An Italian tradition at most Christmas morning feasts, this confection was always a favorite of mine. It’s like a giant sticky bun! So when my eating habits turned to healthier choices, I couldn’t bear to give it up. Here is the result of my experimentation!
MAKES 1 TORTE, 8-10 SERVINGS
3 cups walnuts, pan-toasted (optional) and minced
2 cups raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup brown rice syrup
1½ cups brown rice syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil
Prepare dough: Place flour, salt, rice syrup and oil in a food processor or heavy-duty electric mixer bowl and mix until blended. While mixer or processor is running, add the warm water to flour mixture. Blend only until the particles begin to cling together. Gather dough into a ball, wrap in waxed paper and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
Prepare filling: Process nuts, raisins and cinnamon in a food processor until a coarse meal forms. Do not over-process into flour. Scrape mixture into a bowl. In a saucepan, heat oil and rice syrup until it foams and stir immediately into raisin and nut mixture. Divide the filling into 3 separate bowls and set aside.
To assemble, divide dough into thirds. On a floured surface, roll out 1 portion at a time into a long rectangle, about 30 × 5 inches. Trim strips evenly so the rectangles match.
Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon filling from each of the 3 bowls lengthwise over one half of each strip. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling, making 3 filled 30-inch-long strips.
Starting at the end of one strip, roll up tightly into a pinwheel, filling side up. Overlapping slightly at the end, attach the next strip and continue to roll. Repeat with the last strip. Now, turn the assembled torte, filling side up, onto the prepared baking sheet. Tie a piece of kitchen string midway around the diameter of the torte. Bake 45 minutes-1 hour or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Prepare the glaze: Heat ingredients over high heat until they foam. Immediately brush the sides of the torte with glaze, spooning the remaining glaze over the top.
When cooled, remove the string from the torte and replace it with a holiday ribbon. Serve sliced in thin wedges with strong espresso or tea for a festive Christmas morning treat or any special occasion brunch.