Bunny hop, skip and jump your way to an instant Easter dessert.
Bunny hop, skip and jump your way to an instant Easter dessert.
Italian houses love a bit of plastic tableware. During our recent visit-ette to Italy, my mother and sister in-law showed me the best use for it yet.
This cake is pure genius. Simple measuring, no creaming and perfect results.
2 plastic cups sugar
3 plastic cups plain flour, sifted
1 plastic cup ‘seed’ oil such as sunflower, corn or maise
1 sachet Paneangeli lievito pane degli angeli (see GIVEAWAY!)
1 banana yogurt (or flavour of your choice)
Icing sugar, for dusting
Nutella/ strawberry jam, optional (see Britalian Tip)
1 Preheat the oven to 180’C, 160’C fan, gas 4. Grease and line a 23 cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
2 Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until well combined.
3 Add the flour and sachet of Leiveto. Whisk at a low speed until combined. Add the oil, whisk at a low speed until combined.
4 Stir through the yogurt. Spoon into the lined cake tin.
Bake for 20-25 mins, until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
5 Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.
Serve Romeo style, ‘as you wish’ with a jar of Nutella and a jar of strawberry jam. Guests can cut a slice and have it plain or decide how they fill it. My 9 year old nephew with an air of Italian sophistication went ‘solo torta’. I rammed mine with Nutella (it did go rather well with the banana).
GIVEAWAY! (Offer ended)
‘The yeast of bread angels’ I have 10 sachets to giveaway! I’ll pop a sachet in the post to the first 10 readers to email me, email@example.com with the subject ‘I’m a bread Angel!’ Include address in body of email (available to UK addresses only I’m afraid).
Lemoncello meringue cake
Test shoots are a great way to get experimenting! Baked alaska, come lemon meringue pie, come a cheeky dash of Italian Liqueur. This was one of those ideas that sounded great on paper but would it actually work?! The answer is thankfully, yes! The best bit is, you can prepare the sponge and lemon lemon layer way ahead. I can’t wait to see it when proper food photographer, Adrian Lawrence gets his hands on it!
Prep: 30 mins, plus chilling and cooling
Cook: 25 mins
4 lemons, juice and zest
290g unsalted butter, cubed
465g caster sugar
6 large eggs, plus 3 large egg whites
6 gelatine leaves
45ml shot limoncello (optional)
1tsp vanilla extract
115g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 Grease a 1L Pyrex bowl with oil, then line with cling film, so the edges hang over the sides. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small microwavable bowl and add the lemon zest.
Add 175g of the butter and 175g of the caster sugar. Mix well.
2 Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 mins.
3 Meanwhile, heat the lemon mixture in the microwave on full power for 3 mins, stirring every 30 seconds, until the butter and sugar has melted.
4 Gradually add 4 beaten eggs, whisking continuously. Microwave on full power for a further 1 1/2 mins. Whisk well. Allow to cool for 1 minute, then return to the microwave and heat on full power for a further minute. Whisk well. Remove 3tbsp of the mixture, cover, and set aside.
5 Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves and place in a measuring jug. Pour over 200ml of just boiled water. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Top up with 150ml cold water. Gradually pour into the lemon mix, whilst continuously stirring. Stir in the limoncello, if using. Pour into the lined Pyrex bowl. Chill for at least 4 hours, until set.
6 For the sponge base, preheat the oven to 170’C, 150’C fan, gas 3. Grease and line an 18cm loose-bottomed sandwich tin. Beat the remaining butter with 115g of the caster sugar. Add 2 eggs one at a time beating well in between each addition. Fold through the flour and baking powder. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 mins.
Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 mins. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on the wire rack. Level the surface with a serrated knife.
7 For the meringue, using an electric hand whisk, whip the egg whites until medium peaks form. Gradually trickle in the remaining sugar whilst continuing to whisk until stiff glossy peaks form.
8 To assemble, preheat the oven to 230’C, 210’C fan, gas 8. Spread the top of the cake with the 3 tbsp of the reserved lemon curd mixture. Then invert the bowl of set lemon jelly on top of the cake.
Transfer to a flat baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Spoon over the meringue in swirling motions ensuring the jelly and sponge is completely enclosed. Bake for 4-6 mins until golden (for maximum control use a cooks blow-torch). Remove from the oven and chill for 20 mins to firm up before serving.
Fancy making your own pasta? Mamma Romeo gave me a lesson in making tagliatelle, one of the most instantly satisfying pasta shapes to make -no pasta machines needed here!
To serve 4
400g Tipo ’00’ flour
3 eggs (see Top tips)
1 Tip the flour into a large bowl or onto a large board, create a well in the centre and break the eggs into the well. Bring together with your fingertips or a wooden spatula, don’t be afraid – just really go for it! It will come together, once it resembles breadcrumbs, tip onto a wooden board or work surface (if you are using a bowl otherwise leave it where it is on the wooden board).
2 Knead well, as you would with a bread dough, add a little water if necessary – a couple of teaspoons at a time, keep the dough moving and turning, until it turns silky and smooth and not rough and floury, or as Mamma Romeo said, with a slap on the dough, ‘smooth like a bambino’s bottom!’
3 Flour the board, then using a large rolling pin, roll out the dough to the largest thinnest circle you can get, keep turning your circle and add more flour to prevent sticking if needed, use the rolling pin to help you lift the pasta if neccessary (if you don’t a have a huge Italian Mamma-style rolling pin, you can roll out lots of smaller pieces, your tagliatelle will just be shorter).
4 Dust a little flour over the surface of your pasta (here’s the best bit). Fold the pasta over like you would a Swiss roll, then simply cut 1cm slices from the shorter end. Gently raise and pull apart.
5 Scatter the tagliatelle over a board covered with a clean T towel, dust with a little flour and leave to rest for 15-30 mins. Cook in salted boiling water for a few minutes. Serve simply with steaming hot passata and freshly grated Parmesan.
Britalian Kitchen TOP 3 TIPS
1 Allow approx 100g flour per person, but if upping the flour for more people, Mamma Romeo’s secret is not to increase the eggs to more than 3 instead add water until you have the right consistency.
2 To avoid a sticky mess, clean your pasta board with a metal scraper instead of using water (a new wallpaper scraper works perfectly! See below).
3 If you want to make life a little easier, you can whizz the flour and eggs in a food processor to get to the breadcrumb stage in step 1.
This eco friendly wooden pastry board made from sustainable acacia wood makes a good pasta board, at 56cm long it’s not quite as big as Mamma Romeo’s but it’s big enough to get some decent pasta out of it! £23.00 from www.woolworths.co.uk
Perfect for not only cutting smaller pasta shapes but also great for cleaning down your pasta board. £1.09 from www.toolbox.co.uk
The right rolling pin
In Italy it’s a wooden rolling pin all the way but in the UK it’s a little more tricky to find a wooden rolling pin long enough, but as we have been cake crazy for a good few years polythene pins (ideal for rollling out sugar paste) are much easier to find. This 60cm one is great value at £12.52 from www.russums-shop.co.uk
Full English or a continental pastry? I’m a massive fan of the English breakfast but it occurred to me that it could be taken to dizzy heights with a few Italian twists!
WEEKEND WONDER: The Embellished English
Garlic and balsamic roast tomatoes
Place 3 halved plum tomatoes and 2 whole garlic cloves in a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with dried oregano and season to taste. Roast at 190’C, 170’C fan, gas 5 for 30 mins. Serves 2 (double for 4).
Place Sicilian Inspired Pork Sausages (Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference, £2.50 for 6) in a baking tray above the tomatoes and cook to pack instructions at 190’C, 170’C fan, gas 5 for 30 mins. If you’re lucky enough to have an Italian deli nearby or if you’re self-catering or camping in Southern Italy seek out pappagnotta – the ultimate Italian sausage.
Dreamy creamy scrambled eggs
Whisk 4 large eggs, 6 tbsp whole milk and 50g mascarpone. Season to taste. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan, add the egg mixture and allow to sit for 20 secs then gently fold and stir with a wooden spatula. Allow to sit for a further 10 secs and fold and stir again. Repeat until the eggs are soft softly set. Serves 2.
Place the pancetta in a dry non-stick frying or griddle pan over a medium heat for 3-5 mins, turning once, until crispy.
Add some courgette flower fritters if you have the rest of the day to walk (or sleep!) it all off!
WHEN YOU NEED TO BE UP-AND-OUT:
4 weekday 5 minute breakfasts…
Whizz and go!
Beetroot & blueberry smoothie
Place 125g cooked beetroot (half a pack of cooked beetroot in natural juices), 100g blueberries, 25g goji berries, 60ml pomegranate juice, 1tsp honey and a squeeze of lemon juice in a blender. Blend for 1 minute and serve. Serves 1
My Calabrian breakfast
Although I’m never in a hurry when in Italy, breakfast is a quick affair – just a little entree to LUNCH.
Lipton English breakfast tea (Mama Romeo likes to make me feel at home!), Pan di Stelle biscuits (good Italian deli’s sell these in the UK or you can even buy them from Amazon.co.uk, from £2.95) and a fresh peach. A seemingly odd little mix that I’ve grown to love.
Mummy ‘E’s’ mega cereal breakfast
Setting her up for a day of teaching 11-15 year olds. No wonder it’s quite hefty.
Top your favourite ready mixed granola with milk, a large spoonful of Greek natural yogurt, a small handful of berries and a few slices of kiwi fruit (or top with any fruit that needs using up!).
Slow release energy fast!
These little pots of joy from Perkier are perfect for busy days, pop one in your bag on the way to work and simply top up with boiling water. Perkier was set-up by Anne Perkins and her partner Steve; fed up with the lack of choice and the price of gluten free products, Anne decided to do something about it. Perkier porridge pots are available at large supermarkets for around £1.50 each. For full product range visit http://www.perkier.co.uk
Running out of cupboard space? These stackable Leaning Tower of Pisa espresso cups are perfect to keep on the worktop – making it even easier to reach for that morning coffee. Fab and functional! £19.99 www.menkind.co.uk
World cake-in-a Cup
Inspired by these fun flag mugs, it only one meant thing…an Italy vs England World cake-in-a Cup re-match! Using Sainsbury’s cake-in-a-cup recipe as the base, will my country-inspired additions make it a new winning recipe or as disappointing as an own goal?
To kick off, I start with a risky decision and take out solid performer; Vanilla Extract and for England add 2tsp Pimms and 2 Chopped Strawberries. For Italy, I add 2tsp Limoncello – possibly a disastrous choice or it could be a touch of magic for the mix. Just before the second half (before putting in the microwave), I top off team Italia with 1 fine Lemon Slice.
When the England team think they’re finished we’ll top them off with a fresh strawberry. Both teams will get a good shower of icing sugar before the next round.
England: Not a great looker – a bit lumpy and bumpy, but Chopped Strawberries added a whole new dimension to the game.
Italy: Rose to the occasion perfectly, an extremely slick performance, however Limoncello could have been slightly stronger up front.
1 – 1
The Wild West in Kent; The Garden of England. It may not be a combo that instantly springs to mind but as an advocate of having the best of both worlds it was the perfect location for one awesome party! Two (very strong) Moscow mules, led me to constantly daydream (whilst attempting to dance like a cow-girl) about farming on the surrounding hop fields and orchards, then as dusk fell I put full attention into toasting marshmallows, eating popcorn and gorging on local and speciality cheese. Bliss.
For a wonderful family run campsite in this beautiful tranquil spot (with lovely quirky touches such as a communal tipi and camp fire starter packs!) visit www.bedgeburycamping.co.uk
On honeymoon in Puglia I had the best gelato I’ve ever tasted; full-on creamy-dreamy satisfaction! The honeymoon/ holiday feeling probably added to the whole experience but I must say I did get a sweet little holiday feeling at Yog this week, a little stroll along Exmouth Market, nipping into the ice-cream parlour-style shop was a real treat. Going with the ‘healthier alternative to ice-cream’ idea my coconut, cherry and tropical fruit combo was delicious, but I think my friend Jen got it right loading her pomegranate frozen yogurt with Oreo cookies! Get experimenting and that holiday feeling at Yog http://www.yogyogurt.co.uk/
Yog selfie – had to be done
Top 2 Britalian frozen treats:
Eggstravaganza Simnel cake
Great British Bake-off contestant Cathryn Dresser’s Easter Simnel cake recipe on This Morning inspired me to get baking. I’ve swapped some of the ingredients to match up with what my Britalian kitchen cupboards had to offer. Hopefully my ‘alternative decorations’ will make the family smile and the camomile won’t send them to sleep!