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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Cocoa Swirled Meringues (Meringhe variegate)

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I often find myself planning recipes that only require the use of yolks so that I can have some egg whites to play with. As I type this I will concede that this may sound odd to many, but I cannot renounce who I am, a food nerd, really! How many times have you separated eggs, promising yourselves you will give the unused whites a new, worthy life, only to find them weeks later in the back of your fridge, a scary, ectoplasmic entity begging you to be put out of its misery! Here is my favourite thing to do with the protein-packed goodness: whip it, whip it and then whip it a bit more! With sugar, that is, and a little dusting of cocoa powder to turn them into a delectable treat to accompany your coffee or afternoon tea.

INGREDIENTS, makes 12

100 g (just over 1/3 cup) egg whites, at room temperature

pinch of salt flakes

75 g icing sugar (1/3 cup), sifted (icing sugar is the same as confectioner sugar or powdered sugar)

75 g (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste or the seeds of half vanilla bean

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

HOW TO

1. Preheat your oven to 100°C (212 F). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. In a large, clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until frothy and very soft peaks start to form. I always do this do with hand-held electric beaters on low speed as it gets the job done in 90 seconds, with no sore wrist. But feel free to do it by hand if you missed a day at the gym and need to burn off some calories. Gradually increase the speed of your beaters (or your biceps) to medium and start adding the icing sugar then, slowly, the caster sugar. Keep beating for 1–2 minutes (or 5–6 minutes by hand) or until the egg whites are shiny, smooth and stiff.

3. Add the lemon juice or cream of tartar and gently fold it in with a metal spoon, taking care not to beat the air out of the meringue mixture. These few drops of acid will neutralise the eggy flavour that meringue can sometimes have, and will also keep them stable and preserve their crisp whiteness.

4. Add the vanilla and mix gently. Swirl the cocoa in.

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5. Dollop teaspoons (or tablespoons, if you like them larger) of the mixture onto the baking tray, about 2 cm apart to allow for spreading. You can use a piping bag if you prefer, but I love a more whimsical, free-form meringue.

6. Gently place the tray in the oven and bake for 11/2–2 hours. If they start to colour, turn the heat down to 80°C (175 F). You know the meringues are cooked through when the base is touch-dry.

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Cool at room temperature and enjoy as they are with coffee, gelato or, as my dad favours, a big dollop of sweetened whipped cream. The man is known for his sweet tooth …

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Related recipes

Home-Made Marshmallows (http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/12/homemade-fluffy-marshmallows-corn-syrup-free/)

Raspberry cake with meringues (http://dinnerinvenice.com/2013/05/02/raspberry-cake-with-whipped-cream-and-pink-meringues-2/)

Sicilian Amaretti (http://sundayatthegiacomettis.blogspot.com/2011/11/sicilian-amaretti-cookies-almond.html)

 

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.

Buttermilk, Olive Oil and Chocolate Chips Tea Cake

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Ah, the joys of lazy Sunday mornings! Sleeping in, waking up rested and in a pure state of relax, indulging in a long, blissful shower, perhaps even a facial mask and a hair treatment. All followed by a generous slice of moist cake to joyfully dunk into a creamy cappuccino. Naturally, as the mother of two young boys, I can only dream of sleeping in and frolicking under the shower for more than 2 minutes. I can forget about hair and facial treatments, but one thing I am yet to surrender: the cake to dunk in my Sunday morning coffee. This batter is mixed in under 3 minutes, just perfect for the busy family life, and produces a soft, moist cake that can become the conduit for bolder flavor such as lemon and almonds, mandarin and ginger, or my children favorite, orange and chocolate chips. Happy Sunday!

Buona Domenica!

INGREDIENTS (serves 8)

280 gr (2-1/2 cups) of self-raising flour, sifted

150 gr (3/4 cup) of caster sugar

finely grated rind of one orange

150 gr (3/4 cup) of dark chocolate chips

pinch of salt

200 ml (3/4 cups) of buttermilk

80 ml (1/3 cup) of olive oil

1 egg, beaten with a fork

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract or the seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod

HOW TO

1. Preheat your over to 180 C (395 F).

2. Line a cake tin with baking paper.

3. Put flour, sugar, salt , 2/3 of the chocolate chips and the orange zest in a large mixing bowl.

4. Pour the buttermilk and the oil into a jug. Add the egg and vanilla and mix with a whisk for a few seconds.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the large mixing bowl, mix with a wooden spoon just so the batter come together, but don’ try to make it smooth. If the batter feel a little dry, add a couple of extra tablespoons of buttermilk. If too wet, add 1-2 tablespoons of flour. As all flours vary slightly, it is always a good idea to adapt quantities according to the ingredients you are working with.

Lumpy, sticky batter=soft moist cake!

6. Pour the cake mix into the prepared tin, scatter the remaining chocolate chips on top and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is slightly golden and, if pierced with a wooden skewer, it comes out clean.

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Cool at room temperature, cut into large slices and enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk

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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 Candied Orange Peel

To be quite frank, I never thought I’d be making candied peel from scratch. I assumed this was a job best left to professional cooks, who know their way around pots of lava-scaulding syrups and get the job done with minimal bodily harm. This was until I went to buy some…A bag of (I counted them!) 9, thin, slivers of delightfulness…16 $! When I figured out that each little candy cost 1.77 $ I was quickly convinced to have a go. Turns out my chef brother was right when he told me that, albeit a little laborious, the recipe is really quite simple. The following ingredients will yield about 50 pieces …at 1.77 each… That would be 88.50 $! Convinced yet?….

INGREDIENTS

3 Large Organic Oranges

750 gr of caster sugar

25 ml (1/8 of a cup) white wine vinegar

200 gr 70% Dark Chocolate

HOW TO

Start this recipe a day ahead.

Day 1

1. Carefully peel your oranges, scraping off all of, or at least most of, the white pith (it’s very bitter)

2. Cut into long strips, place them in a pot with enough water to cover them and bring to the boil.

3. Boil them for 1 minutes than drain the water out, fill the pot with fresh cold water to cover the peel strips, bring to the boil for 1 minutes. Repeat this (yes, quite tedious) procedure 5 more times (7 in total)

4. Place 500 gr of sugar in a pot with 750 ml of water, stir until sugar is melted and it comes to a boil, then add your peel, the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Simmer on low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the peel is translucent and the syrup has thickened.

5. Remove peel from the syrup* and place on a wire rack over a plate (to collect any drippings) to dry. This may take up to 8 hours.

6. When the peel is dry to the touch, dust in the remaining sugar.

7. Melt the chocolate in your preferred way  (I always use the double boiler method, but if you are confident with a microwave, you have my blessing). Half dip the peel in chocolate, the place them to set on a plate lined with baking paper.

You can store peel in an airtight container layered between sheets of baking paper for a few months. In very warm weather, keep them in the fridge and allow the strips to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before offering them.

They go down a treat with espresso coffee, tea and, for the brave ones, Grappa.

* Reserve the orange scented syrup to make Granitas, Sorbets, Cakes, Daiquiri,  you name it…

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Lemon and Almond Cake with Vanilla frosting

It seems like every cake or cookie I make these days has to have lemon in it. This new-found obsession may be directly linked to my incredibly generous lemon tree.
This year it’s going crazy and there are only so many Gin&Tonics a breast-feeding mother can have…what to do with the rest of the lemons? Boil a few for two hours and blend them togther with eggs, sugar and almond meal and make yourself a deliciously moist lemon cake. And, yes, it goes well with Gin&Tonic, if you were wondering…

INGREDIENTS, serves 8

For the cake

2 large lemons, whole

250 gr of sugar

250 gr of almond meal (almond flour)

5 egg yolks

1 teaspoon of baking powder

5 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks

HOW TO

1. Boil two large lemons for two hours then blend them, whole, in a food processor with 250 gr of sugar, 250 gr of almond meal and 5 egg yolks.

2. Add a teaspoon of baking powder. Whisk 5 egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold in the lemon mixture.

3. Pour onto a greased and floured cake tin and bake at 170 degrees Celsius (338 degrees Fahrenheit) for 40/45 minutes.

Cool down in the tin, then reverse onto a cake stand and ice with vanilla frosting.
For the vanilla frosting

75 gr soft butter
375 gr icing sugar ( I know, it’s a lot. Keep your kids away or they’ll be bouncing off the walls within seconds!)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. milk

HOW TO

1. Blend butter and sugar until creamy then add vanilla and milk. Beat for a couple of minutes on medium speed, until frosting is smooth.

2. Spread frosting onto your cooled cake and decorate with toasted pistacchio nuts and lemon zest.

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Torta di Mandorle, Ricotta e Limone (almond, ricotta and lemon cake)

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As I was walking in my garden last Sunday, I noticed that my lemon tree was suddenly looking heavy with ripe, juicy, bright yellow fruits. These home-grown lemons with a rough and gnarly peel make the best Limoncello and Gin&Tonic, but my alcohol intake being limited by the joys of breastfeeding, I resorted to pick a few and bake them in an almond and lemon torta. What a sweet consolation that was!

INGREDIENTS, serves 8

3 whole eggs

200 gr (1 cup) caster sugar

75 ml (1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil (or plain olive oil, or canola oil)

170 gr of full cream ricotta, well drained

210 gr (2 cups) of sifted self-raising flour

70 gr (2/3 cups) of almond meal (almond flour)

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract (or half of a freshly scraped pod)

1 tablespoon of Amaretto liquor

HOW TO

1. In a bowl, beat  eggs with sugar until pale and creamy

2. Add oil and Ricotta and incorporate until smooth

3. Add  flour and almond meal and incorporate gently into the eggs mix then add the lemon zest and juice, vanilla and a tablespoon of Amaretto (Italian almond liqueur).

4. Pour the batter in a cake tin (buttered and floured) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 C (340 F) for about 35/40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin before serving.

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Dust with icing sugar and help yourself to a large slice…

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Ciambellone della Nonna (Nonna’s Marble cake with Oil and Yogurt)

Those of you who have travelled to Italy know how much we favour a sweet breakfast. Cafes are crowded with Italians standing by the counter dipping a pastry into their morning coffee before they set off to work. Admittedly, this is not the healthiest way to start the day and it it possibly one of very few things Italian get wrong about food. These days I have become an advocate of oatmeal  and home-made muesli, however I do like to indulge on weekends and allow myself and my family the undeniable pleasures of white starch and refined sugar! There is hardly anything I crave more on a Saturday morning than diving a freshly baked, large slice of Ciambellone into a coffee artfully prepared by Richard. I feel no guilt, it is part of my DNA, it is my legacy. I have to oblige, at least one a week. So I say, if you  truly want to be Italian, get yourself a cake and practise an infallible dunking motion.
Any tea-cake or cookie will do, but my loyalty lies with this very cake my Mamma used to make for us on Sundays.

INGREDIENTS:

3 eggs

200 gr (1 cup) of caster sugar

250 gr (2 and 1/3 cups) of self-raising flour

2 tablespoons of corn starch

60 ml (1/4 cup) of grape seed oil (or lightly scented olive oil)

125 gr (1/2 cup) of Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

How To

1. Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and creamy.

2. Add the oil , Greek youghurt and the vanilla

3. Gently fold in the flour and the corn starch, well sifted. Mix until the batter is combined.

4. Pour 2/3 of the mix into a ring-cake tin (I used a silicon one so I didn’t have to grease it.).

5. Add 3 tablespoons of bitter cocoa and a good splash of Galliano* to the remaining cake batter and mix until smooth.

6. Dollop the cocoa mix on top of the vanilla mix and , using a fork or a chopstick, swirl the two batters together.

7. Bake in a preheated 170 C (340 F) oven for about 35/45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its tin for about one hour before serving.

Make yourself a good coffee, and get stuck in….

* Galliano is an Italian vanilla-scented liquor. You can omit or substitute with rum.

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