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Liberation Day Crema!

In this crazy time when we are keeping people safe from COVID-19, we have had to create alternate ways of marking significant days.

In Australia, 25 April is Anzac Day, a commemoration of a tragic military loss in the first world war at Gallipoli in Turkey, where many Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought bravely despite the terrible odds.

In Italy, 25 April is Liberation Day when fascism was defeated.

For Anzac Day, normally there would be a dawn service, the playing of the last post on the bugle, a minutes silence and a reading of the poem, Lest We Forget. This year instead, at dawn, many people lit a candle at the end of their driveways and took a private moment of silence to remember those in their family who had fought or died in war.

In Italy, to mark the day of Liberation, instead of flag waving, re-enactments and ceremonies, this year there was a collective balcony singing of Bella Ciao, the song of the Resistance. It was at 3 pm in Italy, which is 10.30 pm for us.

That night, we watched on social media. The song was sung and played from the north to the south, in towns and cities, in the country-side, by young and old . They sang this beautiful song of determination and sacrifice for a better world.

Over this difficult period humans have astounded me with their creativity, their kindness for each other and their adaptability.

Raffaele made his mother's Biscotti alla Crema recipe, not necessarily meant for this day, but it seemed very fitting for a day of celebration. It's is a simple and delicious dessert that has been handed down through generations, made with what is easily available, just like Anzac biscuits. When making the crema (which is custard in Italian), Raf stirs the custard in only one direction because this is what his mother told him to do and what she did. When I asked about it he said his mother was instructed to do this by his aunties. And so it goes. No one really knowing why this very specific instruction was given, but too afraid to change it in case the crema is ruined.

Assunta's Biscotti alla crema

1 litre milk

8 egg yolks

150 g white sugar

2 tablespoons of plain flour

2 tablespoons of corn flour

Peel of one lemon, cut from a lemon in a continuous ribbon about 1cm wide.

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 packet of plain, sweet biscuits like Arnott’s milk coffee biscuits or similar.

Put the milk and egg yolks into a saucepan and whisk them together.

Add the sugar and sift in the flour.

Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined and there are no lumps of flour in the mixture.

Add the lemon peel and zest.

Put the saucepan on a low heat.

Stir continuously with a wooden spoon for 30- 40 minutes in one direction or until the crema thickens and clings to the back of the spoon. Be patient, it will thicken.

Take the lemon peel out.

This is a slow method to make crema but it ensures the flour is cooked, leaving no floury flavour and allowing the lemon to infuse thoroughly.

While the cream is still warm, put a layer of biscuits on the bottom of a rectangular dish.

Cover with a layer of crema and repeat until you run out of biscuits or custard.

The final layer should be crema.

Allow to set in the fridge overnight.

If you don't gobble it down in one sitting the next day, the flavour and texture changes over time as the crema seeps further and further into the biscuits.

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Delicious - even if I do say so myself!!!!

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