Lemon and Olive Oil Ciambella

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Quite simply, my personal idea of comfort food. I suppose you can trace this back to when I was a child and mum would invariably turn to this treat for a Sunday afternoon tea. There was nothing more soothing then hearing those familiar kitchen sounds from my bedroom, where I’d be pretending to do my homework. By the third egg shell being cracked, I’d turn up in the kitchen offering to lend a hand, which in my world meant lick the bowl (and all the utensils). And so these days I make this cake for my two boys. The ritual is the same, I slave, they lick, but once the cake is out of the oven, we can all rejoice!

INGREDIENTS, serves 10/12

2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks

1 cup of caster sugar

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste (or extract)

1/2 cup of olive oil (go extra-virgin if you like a bit of extra flavour, like I do)

1/2 cup of buttermilk

1-2/3 cup of self raising flour

HOW TO

1. Preheat your oven to 180 C, 350 F. Grease and flour a bundt cake tin

2. Beat the eggs with sugar until pale and fluffy

3. Add lemon zest, vanilla and oil and whisk well

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4. Add the flour and mix gently, alternating with the buttermilk to create a smooth batter

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and a cooked through. Insert a wooden skewer in the centre of the cake to make sure it’s bakes to perfection. If it comes out clean, happy times! Otherwise give it another 5 minutes in the oven

6. Cool at room temperature in its tin for at least 1 hour, before turning out onto a platter

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Le Maddalene (Orange and Vanilla Madeleines)

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Strictly speaking Madeleines are not an Italian sweet treat. So what are they doing in my Authentic Italian food blog, you may rightfully ask? It’s one of the best known, most loved French buttery delight, but  the geographical vicinity with France, the French influence in Val D’Aosta and Piedmont, both in language and cuisine and the fact that Italy and France have been calling one another “cousins” for centuries makes me feel entitled to love and share this recipe with you. Also, the batter itself is a Génoise cake batter …Génoise means “from Genoa”, the main city of Liguria, in Italy, another reason why Italians claim this sweet as, partially, theirs…

The recipe is fairly simple. It’s a combination of the usual suspects: self-raising flour, eggs, sugar, butter, orange and vanilla. The secret to a perfectly moist and soft Madeleine though, is in the time you allow for the batter to rest. I have had a few failures with these lovely, shell-shaped nuggets and it was only after reading the Roux bothers cook-book, the bible of French dessert, that I realized that even cakes need their beauty sleep! And I’m not talking about a power-nap. The batter needs to rest for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24. So, if you have an instant craving for Madeleines, think again. But if you are prepared to make this batter today and bake your sweets in the morning, by the time you’ve had a shower, you’ll be able to dunk a few warm ones into your morning coffee.

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INGREDIENTS, makes 24 small cakes

3 whole eggs at room temperature

100 gr sugar (half a cup)

2 tbsp honey

120 gr of butter (3/4 of a cup)

175 gr (1 1/2 cups) of sieved self-raising flour

Grated rind of one large orange, or two small ones

Vanilla paste or essence (or seeds, if you have them)

HOW TO

1. Melt the butter over low heat and add the grated orange zest. Turn off the heat and set aside.

2.Whisk the eggs with the sugar and the honey until pale and creamy. Sift over the sieved flour and fold gently. Don’t over work the flour or the gluten with make the batter too dense. Fold in the orange butter and a teaspoon of vanilla paste.

3. Cover with cling wrap and rest for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

4. The next day, bring your oven to 180 Celsius (390 Farenheit). Spoon the batter onto a greased and floured madeleine mould. The cakes will rise in the oven, so only fill the mould to 3/4 full.

5. Bake 5-10 minutes or until golden and cooked-thourgh.

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Dunk in your coffee and have a très magnifique day!

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Note

This is a reblog of my original post on Madeleines from 2011. I have since altered the recipe slightly, hence the need to update it and provide better quality images.

Cinnamon Butter Cookies (Biscottini alla Cannella)

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Life is at its best when the very simple pleasures it brings can be savored and enjoyed with unrepentant gluttony. A waffle cone filled with gelato on a hot summer day, warm apple pie served with cream as you snuggle up under a blanket and watch Downtown Abbey, freshly made cinnamon butter cookies to dunk in your morning espresso on a Sunday…Happiness is made of those brief, stolen moment of pure indulgence and I love nothing more than to allow myself the occasional treat when I most crave it. Are you with me?

INGREDIENTS, makes 12-16

100 gr (3/4 cups) icing sugar, plus more for dusting

150 gr (2/3 cups) of soft butter

150 gr (1 cup and 1/3) of self raising flour, 100 gr (3/4 cup) of plain flour

1 tablespoon of corn starch

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste

2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1-2 tablespoon of milk (optional)

HOW TO

1. Work the icing sugar and butter together until creamy and smooth (you can do it by hand or using a standing mixer)

2. When the mixture is creamy, add the flour, 1 table-spoon of corn starch, a teaspoon of vanilla paste and the cinnamon. If the dough is too dry, add 1-2 tablespoon of milk.

3. The cookie dough will look and feel sticky. Use a spatula to scrape it onto a sheet of baking paper. Roll it up in the shape of a sausage and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.

4. Once it’s rested and feels firm, slice it up and place the biscuits on an oven tray, dust them with a little icing sugar and then put them back in the fridge for 10 minutes.

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Bake at 170 C, 340 F,  for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to color. Cool at room temperature.DSC_0624

Dust with icing sugar and dunk into espresso coffee…DSC_0716DSC_0681

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Home-made Panettone with Figs and White Wine

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For us Italians, very little speaks of Christmas as loudly as this dome-shaped famous bread. In fairness, to call it “bread” is a little far-fetched… May this be because of the generous presence of butter, eggs, sugar and dried fruits….yes, let’s be frank here, it’s a cake, and a very rich one! At Christmas though, I refuse to deprive myself of the joys and frivolities this season brings, even if it means accommodating a little extra cellulite along with merry spirit. I don’t know many people who would go through the trouble of baking Panettone at home. I won’t lie to you, this recipe is not for first-time bakers or for those who need instant gratification. It is not difficult, but it requires one thing that we all seem to lack a little these days: patience! My strongest advise is not to go near this unless to have some to spare. But if you are willing, and following detailed instructions is your strong suit, please, don your festive apron, play some merry carols and get ready!

 step 1

350 gr (2-1/4 cups) of sultanas, 100 gr (1 cup) of raisins, 250 (2 cups) gr of semi dried figs, soaked in a bowl with 200 ml (3/4 cup) of rum and enough water to cover them.

Soak for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight

 step 2

Making the ferment (biga)

100 ml ( a little less than 1/2 cup)of milk

100 gr (3/4 cup) of flour

1 sachet of dry yeast

1 teaspoon of sugar or barley malt syrup.

Mix the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon until combined. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until bubbly and doubled in size.

Step 3

Risen dough from step 2

200 ml (3/4 cup) of white wine or Prosecco

300 gr (2-1/2 cups) of 00 flour (or plain)

3 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoon of soft butter

Work the risen ferment with a spoon, then the wine (or prosecco, if you feel extra festive),  flour, sugar and the soft butter. Knead until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the dough is soft and smooth. Place back in the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 1 hour.

Step 4

Risen dough from step 3

290-320 gr (2- 3/4 cups) of 00 or Manitoba (or plain) flour

100 gr (1/2 cup) of sugar

3 tablespoons of honey

3 eggs

75 gr (1/3 cup) of soft butter, cubed

1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste

finely grated zest of 1 orange

dried fruit from step 1, drained

110 gr (1 cup) of candied peel dusted in a little flour.

Work the risen dough onto a floured board or use a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook (better option, if at all possible, because at this point the dough will be hard to handle), add 290 gr (2 cups) of 00 or Manitoba flour (or plain flour, if specialty flours are hard to come by),  sugar, honey and the eggs, one at a time. The dough will be sticky and difficult to work, but don’t despair, it will come together in the end! Add the butter and knead well to incorporate, adding 30-50 gr of extra flour if needed. Mix in the vanilla and zest. Knead for 20 minutes by hand or 7-10 minutes using a standing mixer, or until the dough is transparent and shiny when stretched with your fingers. Drain the fruit that has been soaking. Stretch the kneaded dough to shape a rectangle, cover with fruit and candied peel (if using), fold onto itself, then shape into a ball and leave to rest in an oiled bowl covered with a tea towel for 30 minutes.

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Step 5

Stretch the dough with your hands to shape a rectangle, fold into three and then onto itself to form a ball. Put the dough back in the oiled container and rest for 30 minutes. Then repeat the stretching and folding one more time. Place the dough to rest in the bowl covered with a tea towel for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size. Folding the dough will ensure you an even and soft texture, with a moist, creamy crumb. Worth the pain!

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Step 6

Prepare the moulds. This quantity will be enough for 2 large Panettone, 4 medium ones or 12 mini ones (perfect for edible gifts). Only fill the mould until it’s 3/4 full as the dough will rise in the oven when baking.

If not using a special panettone mould, you can use a round tin, lined with baking paper. Make sure to create a ring of paper tall enough to accommodate room for rising.

Prove the Panettone in its mould or tin for 2 hours at room temperature, uncovered, to encourage  the formation of a slightly crusty top. Make sure to sit the mould or tin on a tray, to easily transport it to the oven when ready to bake.

In the meantime, bring your oven temperature to 180 C (380 F). Place an empty metal bowl or a skillet in the lower rack of the oven to heat up.

Slash a large X on the top of the panettone and place a large knob of butter in the middle.

Place the tray in the oven, fill the empty metal bowl or skillet with iced water to create steam and close the door. The steam will encourage even rising and moisture.

Bake for 45–55 minutes or until evenly risen and the colour of dark caramel. A wooden skewer inserted in the centre should come out moist, but not doughy. If it looks like it’s browning too fast, cover it with baking paper, but keep in mind that the crust is supposed to be quite dark.

As a general rule, a large panettone will take 45-50 minutes, a medium one 35-40 and mini ones 25-30.

 Take the panettone out of the oven. If using a metal tin, let the bread cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving.

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If using a panettone mould, pierce two long metal skewers or knitting needles all the way through the bottom half of the panettone and through the paper. Hang the panettone upside-down over a large stockpot or between two objects of equal height.  Cool it for a minimum of 6 hours.

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DSCN7266Buon Natale!

Love,

Silvia

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1-egg, Moist Apple and Mascarpone Cake

How many of you ever suffered a sudden Sunday craving for home-made  apple cake, went to the fridge to fetch the ingredients and looked in dismay at the sorrowful sight of 1 lonely egg left on the shelf?

How can you possibly make a lovely, fluffy rich cake with just one egg? My all-time favorite recipe for apple cake calls for three!

That’s when my friend Barbara over at Sunday at The Giacometti’s came to the rescue. Her simple and yet moorish marble cake recipe requires 1 egg only because the lack of protein is heavily compensated by the generous presence of butter and the luscious mascarpone cheese, an Italian must-have in the fridge.

I twicked her family recipe slightly, adapted it to suit my need to use up a couple of lackluster apples, and, Ecco Fatto!

A moist, rich, fluffy, apple cake that required no extra trip to the shops.

That’s a Sunday treat!

Ingredients 

1 egg

180 gr -3/4 cup of sugar

80 gr -1/3 cup of soft butter

2 tablespoons of soft mascarpone (substitute with thickened cream if mascarpone is not available)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

small pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of Calvados or any liquor you fancy (omit if you don’t like liquor)

230 gr – 2 cups of self-raisin flour, sifted

2 apples, thinly sliced, skin on

almond flakes to sprinkle on top

How to

Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350F.

Line  a loaf tin with baking paper.

Beat the egg with sugar until pale and fluffy. Add butter and mascarpone and whisk until well incorporated. Add vanilla, liquor, salt and spices.

Sift the flour and pour into the bowl. Mix it with a wooden spoon or a spatula until well amalgamated. Try to avoid over beating the flour, you don’t want to stimulate the gluten too much, otherwise the cake will turn out bit too dense.

Add the apple slices and mix them through the batter.

Pour the batter into the tin, sprinkle with the almond flakes and bake for 35/40 minutes, or until nicely bronzed on top and a skewer come out clean if inserted into the middle of the cake. Cool in the tin, at room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing.

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No-bake Chocolate, Mascarpone and Espresso Fudge Cake

Hang in there, Chocoholic friends!

I have got what you need…

Pain no more, just go over to the stove and start melting some chocolate… You can also lick the bowl!

This is the ultimate chocolate  fudge cake for me: flourless, creamy, opulent and unapologetically chocolatey.

And you don’t even have to turn your oven on.

Where’s the catch?

It is seriously, scarily addictive…

You have been warned…

Ingredients, serves 6-8

1/2 cup   of dark chocolate chips

3 tablespoons of  soft butter

2 tablespoons of espresso coffee

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract

1 tablespoon of Galliano or Rum

250 gr  (8 oz) of Mascarpone

2 handfuls of walnuts

How to

Melt the chocolate with the butter in a double boiler, bain marie or in the microwave.

Add the sugar, coffee, cocoa, liquor and vanilla and mix well, until all th ingredients are combined.

Add the marscarpone and , either by hand or with electric beaters, cream it into the chocolate mix. Be careful not to whip it too much or it may split:

1 minute on low using electric beater and a couple of minutes by hand should do.

Dry roast the walnuts in a frying pan over low heat fopr 1-2 minutes or until they smell fragrant.

Cool for a couple of minutes, then incorporate them into the fudgie mix.

Line a round, small cake tin with plastic warp, leaving some to over hang.

Pour the batter into the tin and flatten with the back of a spoon.

Lick the spoon clean then fold the over hanging plastic wrap over the top of the fudge to enclose it securely.

Leave to the fridge to set for 4-6 hours.

Take the cake out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving.

Turn in onto a serving dish, dust it liberally with cocoa powder and serve wedges with fresh berries.

You are about to experience utter bliss…

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Chocolate Covered Caramels

My dear choc-addicts, this post is dedicated to you!

Over a month ago I posted a photo of  Chocolate Caramels on my Facebook page announcing that the recipe for it would shortly follow… As it often is, life got in the way and a good 5 weeks later…here it is!

I’m sorry I let you down, but I promise you, the wait will be worth it…

For the Caramel layer

1 cup of unsalted butter

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

pinch of salt

For the chocolate layer

250 gr (8 oz)of dark chocolate)

2 tablespoons butter

How to

Put butter, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk in a pot over medium heat.

Stirring continuously, melt the sugar and the butter with the milk and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and keep stirring with a wooden spoon for about 7-10 minutes, or until the caramel appears thicker and golden brown and its intoxicating scent has you in convulsions…

Add a pinch of salt and, off the heat, whisk the caramel vigorously for 2 minutes.

(Please, be very mindful never to leave to the stove whist the caramel is on. Keep stirring, sing your favorite song twice and the job will be done without casualties. Leave the stove to chase your baby who has decided to take his first crawl today, and you will end up with burnt caramel and a burnt pot… Ask me how I know!)

Pour the caramel in a container lined with baking paper and allow to set in the fridge for 1 hour.

In the meantime, make your chocolate topping,

Melt the dark chocolate with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a double boiler.

Once melted, stir for a couple of minutes with a rubber spoon to bring down the temperature slightly. If you are feeling adventurous and you wish to temper your chocolate, proceed like so.

Take the caramel out of the fridge, pour the chocolate over it and spread it into one smooth layer. Add toasted almond flakes if you wish to add a crunchy texture.

Allow to set in the fridge before slicing.

Cut into large chunks and individually wrapped in baking paper, they make a lovely edible gift.

I like to serve them cut into small squares with a hot espresso coffee.

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Roasted-Beetroot Risotto

My very first advise to you when making a risotto is to not even think about it unless you have a great stock to cook it with. Your risotto will only taste as good as your broth, so if you use those powdery mixes or even worse, those salty cubes full of chemicals, that is the flavour you will impart to your rice.
Since risotto is a bit labour intensive, it really not worth it unless you are going to show it a bit of love. Recently, I poached a chicken with garlic, tarragon onion and carrot with the intent of eating the meat with steamed potatoes and of using the stock for a risotto. It’s winter here in Australia and it had been raining for days in Sydney and last Sunday I felt like I needed to colour the day a vivid red.

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

3 beetroot bulbs

1 red onion , diced

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

350 gr (2 cups) of Arborio or Carnaroli rice

1/2 cup of dry white wine

2 lt of good stock, brought tot a gentle simmer

1 tablespoon of butter

1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano

Salt and pepper to taste

goat cheese

HOW TO

1. Cover the beetroots in foil and roasted them in a hot oven for about 1 hour. Peel them and puree them in a food processor  with a little salt and extra-virgin. Set aside.

2. Stir fry gently the diced onion in olive oil until tender. Add your Carnaroli rice and toast with the onion until translucent. Be mindful to stir your rice well.

3. Add a glass of dry white wine and allow for the alcohol to evaporate, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down and start adding the stock a ladleful at a time, while stirring gently.

4. Keep adding stock until the rice is cooked, this will take around 18 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and add the beetroot puree, a generous dusting of parmigiano and a little butter. Stir vigorously to release the starch and create the all’onda* texture. Cover with a lid and let it rest for a few minutes to create the perfect mantecatura, creaminess.

The vibrant red put us in a festive mood and we felt urged to open a Prosecco to go with the risotto.

And after that, a long siesta

* All’onda means ” the way of the waves”

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