Blood Orange and Buttermilk Ciambella

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I have never kept my dislike for winter a secret. I don’t do well in the colder months. It appears that my birthday, at the height of Italian summer (July 23! Yes, LEO!) has really built a need for sunlight and warm weather in the very structure of my DNA. So, in the colder months, well…I tend to keep busy, wallow the lack of sunshine, be a slight pain in the neck for anyone around me as I wait for spring to roll around once more. And now that blood oranges are back in season, I know the much awaited warmer season is nigh. These ruby jewels have a short season and come on the market towards the end of winter, so make the most of it, while you can. Squeeze them, turn them into jam, gobble them up as they are (well, peel them first!!) and, of course, use them as ingredients in all things baking! Try my blood orange and buttermilk ciambella, a soft, moist and sensationally perfumed breakfast cake (you know us Italians!!), perfect with tea or coffee or tarted up and served with chocolate sauce and ice-cream as a dessert. xxx

INGREDIENTS, serves 10/12

3 eggs

3/4 cup of brown sugar

zest and juice of 2 blood oranges (zest first, then juice them)

1/2 cup of mild olive oil or grape seed oil

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 orange zest, juice and oil and whisk well

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

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 baked to perfection. If it comes out clean, happy times! Otherwise give it another 2-3 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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Serve as it is, or drizzle with chocolate sauce and dollop whipped cream or gelato for an indulgent treat!

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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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