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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Lemon and Olive Oil Ciambella

DSC_3497 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 DSC_3469 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 baked 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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