Archive for the 'cakes' Category

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Pumpkin and raisin tea loaf

pumpkin loaf

After making my Porotos Granados  soup (see previous recipe) I was left with half a sad and lonely butternut squash in the fridge. What to do with it? Surely not another soup…. My attention was drawn to this recipe at the end of the River Cottage Veg everyday book, apparently one of Hugh’s favourites. I decided to try it. What appealed to me was the fact that it has no fat in it. YES, NO FAT! Can you believe it? Or more to the point: can a cake still taste decent without any fat in it? I was somewhat sceptical. Butter free experiments in the past hadn’t been all that successful but I have got to say I was impressed with this loaf. It was tasty and moist and it had a lovely yellowish tinge. Great with a cup of tea/coffee. I confess I did smear a little butter on my slice for added flavour but you don’t have to!   Next time I will try making it using a pumpkin. It might work well even with grated carrots. One would need to experiment. By the way: it definitely tastes better the following day!  Continue reading ‘Pumpkin and raisin tea loaf’

Prune and chocolate torte

prune and chocolate torte

prune and chocolate torte

Well…I can’t be blogging healthy things all of the time so here’s a nice, chocolatey cake which requires egg whites rather than whole eggs. That’s right! Rather unusual, isn’t it? I had had my eyes on it for a while. As it happened today I discovered a packet of soft punes in the cupboard plus I knew I had some egg whites which had been languishing in the fridge for a few days so , voilà, I decided  to try it.  I have got to say I was impressed with its taste and texture: it was really soft and moist. A must for all lovers of chocolate then. Also on the plus side the fact that the quantity of butter in it was unusually low. The recipe comes from the BBC Good food website. I wonder if you could substitute the flour with ground almonds or rice flour to make it suitable for gluten intolerant people. I might experiment next time. Continue reading ‘Prune and chocolate torte’




These incredibly rich, gooey, sweet pastries are definitely not for diabetic people or anyone on a diet, I am warning you. HOWEVER, they are delicious and a little piece of them goes a long way which makes them ideal to share with a group of friends. They are made with  layers of buttered filo pastry and contain lots of chopped nuts. What holds them together is honey or syrup. So you can imagine the high number of calories that these little beauties possess. Even an hour of Zumba I am not sure would be able to shift them. Anyway, the inspiration to make baklavas came from my holiday to the Greek island of Paxos, back in September, where they seemed to be sold everywhere (Oh happy, sunny days! If only I could be back there. Autumn is definitely upon us now :-(….). I understand, however, that they are Turkish in origin. Making baklava was also one of the challenges on one of the episodes of the Great British Bake off programme, which has just finished. So I had to have a go, didn’t I? The recipe I used came from the BBC Good food website, slightly adapted. I checked other recipes online and they all seem to be very similar. Unlike in the GB Bake off competition I most certainly did not make my own filo pastry. Come off it!  Life is too short for that! Anyway, they were very nice and made some colleagues at work happy. Continue reading ‘Baklava’

Ciambella bicolore

ciambella bicolore

This is a simple cake ideal to have with a nice cup of tea. It’s half  chocolate sponge and half plain sponge. I have left the Italian name (which means double colour cake) because I made it  with the precious help of my eleven year old Italian nephew Ale, who has come to visit me in England. You can see his big thumb up in the photo. Just like his aunt, Ale is already very interested in experimenting in the kitchen. He is particularly interested in baking bread and I have used him as slave labour to knead the dough in the past few days. I think it’s very important to encourage boys as well as girls to cook. Definitely a skill which will come in useful later on in life Bravo Ale!!! By the way the recipe comes from the blog Zenzero e limone. Enjoy! Continue reading ‘Ciambella bicolore’

Torta di mele, mandorle e pistacchi gluten free

Le mie torte preferite sono quelle che posso fare tutto nel mixer. Eccone una per giunta gluten free. Chissà mai che abbiate qualche ospite celiaco o con qualche intolleranza. Ci sono tante uova, ma è una torta quasi senza grassi (a parte quelli delle mandorle o dei pistacchi). Io l’ho dovuta fare anche il giorno dopo perché è stata spazzata via in un lampo. Continue reading ‘Torta di mele, mandorle e pistacchi gluten free’




I know, I know. This is one of the most common desserts in Italy and probably one most people will know how to make over there BUT, let us not forget, I am also blogging for my English speaking friends and they might not know what an easy and delicious dessert this is. Despite its credentials , for some bizarre reasons, I hadn’t made one for yonks! Funny how sometimes you stop making something, forget all about it, only to “rediscover”  it a long time afterwards. Last time I made tiramisu (which, incidentally, means “pick me up” in Italian) must have been well before I started this blog so we are going back quite a few years. Anyway, I decided the time had come to resurrect it, much to the delight of my husband who is particularly partial to it. The reason for this nostalgia was I spotted REAL savoiardi in  Sainsbury’s in their Taste the difference range. These are Italian sponge fingers and are one of the main ingredients of tiramisu (the other ones being eggs, mascarpone cheese, coffee and sugar). I’ve actually blogged  home made savoiardi not so long ago. Anyway, this is a simple dessert to make, guaranteed to impress your family and  friends. And by the way it can be easily made in advance. In fact it tastes even better the day after you have made it! Wha are you waiting for? Continue reading ‘Tiramisu’



Instead of making the famous pancakes with sugar and lemon that in England are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday ( martedì grasso in Italian) this year I decided to make kaiserschmarrn. Impossible to pronounce, I know, unless you are German. This dish is in fact Austrian and translated it means “the emperor’s mess”. And a mess it certainly looks when cooked, as it is basically a thick pancake brutally torn into pieces, sprinkled with icing sugar and served with plum sauce. I reckon that  it was born a misdemeanour and got later dressed up as a dessert, personally! 😉 Still……I had it for the first time in the famous Café Central in Vienna when I went there at Easter. I confess I found it a bit stodgy and couldn’t even finish it! I then had another lighter version of it in one of the Italian rifugi (mountain huts) in the Dolomites and a different experience it was too!  Much fluffier and nicer (and cheaper to boot!). Anyway, I have done my research. There are several recipes out there. Some of them contain rum and raisins and are therefore richer in taste. But I didn’t have rum nor did I have any raisins so I decided to make a very simple, straightforward version and served it with homemade warmed up blackberry jam. I have seen recipes serving it with apple sauce, strawberry sauce and of course the traditional plum sauce. I thought it was rather nice for a first attempt and different from the usual boring pancakes. Definitely something on the filling side to indulge in if you are in need of comfort food. Continue reading ‘Kaiserschmarrn’

Lime curd cake

lime curd cake

This is a simple but really lovely cake. How the idea came about is as follows: during the Christmas period I had treated myself to a jar of homemade lime curd from a local deli, which I had planned to use during my guests invasion (message to the relatives that came to stay: this comment is not meant in a derogatory way, incidentally. I LOVE having people round. Honestly!). Surprisingly (NOT!) I forgot I had bought it and when the other day I found it in my cupboard and discovered with horror it was about to expire (ok, it HAD expired, but only just), I decided to use it double quick in order to spare myself the guilt feelings associated with buying something expensive and outlandish only to chuck it in the bin later on. Continue reading ‘Lime curd cake’

Chelsea buns with mincemeat

chelsea buns with mincemeat

And here’s one of the things I made with my homemade mincemeat.  Chelsea buns go back a long time. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true…ha ha) they made their first appearance in the 18th century. The traditional variety are made with an enriched dough and contain currants, brown sugar and spices. They have a nice, sticky glaze on the top. I decided to give them a Christmas twist by using mincemeat  and lovely they were too. Candi blogged a Swedish version,  similar in looks to these, but made with cinnamon and cardamom last year (see here). As they are type of bread buns they  are best eaten on the day. Continue reading ‘Chelsea buns with mincemeat’

Home made mincemeat with brandy

mincemeat with brandy

I can already see Italian people puzzling over the word “mincemeat”. Surely you can’t mix minced meat with brandy, right? RIGHT! I was puzzled too when I first came to England and realized that there is no meat in this traditional mixture that you use to make mince pies (one of the the traditional sweets to have here at Christmas time). Phew! Mincemeat is actually a sweet concoction made with raisins, sultanas, candy peels, sugar, spices, etc. So why is it called mincemeat? I really don’t know, is the answer. Must go on google and see whether I can find the solution to the riddle. All I know is that traditional mincemeat contains suet which is fat from meat. Could that be the reason why? Anyway, last year I made frangipane mince pies which turned out to be really nice, but I used mincemeat I had bought. This year I decided to make my own. Oh yes! And a cinch it was too! I didn’t use suet for mine but butter, as suggested by the mighty Mary Berry (the inspiration came from watching a Christmas programme with her and Paul Hollywood). I have already used some for the frangipane mincepies but ALSO to fill some Chelsea buns, which I will blog as well. They were both a success. Continue reading ‘Home made mincemeat with brandy’