2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing
6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
½ cup boiling water
2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
1½ cups almond meal or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup superfine sugar
You'll need a 1X9-inch springform cake pan. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease your springform pan with a little oil and line the base with parchment paper.
Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or pitcher and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolaty, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.
Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a free-standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes, until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in, you can slowly tip in the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) mixture.
Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake test should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the pan. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a dessert.
Serves 8 to 12
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (2 ounces) sliced natural almonds
¼ cup powdered sugar, for kneading
Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whip the eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla and almond extract in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. In another bowl, stir the flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir into the egg mixture to make a stiff, sticky dough. Stir in the almonds.
Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the work surface. Transfer the dough to the work surface, and knead gently until the dough is cohesive and loses its stickiness. Shape into a thick 8-inch log and transfer to the baking sheet. Shape the dough on the sheet into a log about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide.
Bake until the dough is lightly browned and cracked, and feels set when pressed on the top, about 30 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Carefully transfer the log to a chopping board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into ½ inch thick slices. Arrange the slices, flat sides down, on the baking sheet. (You many need 2 baking sheets. If so, place a second oven rack in the top third of the oven.) Bake until the surfaces begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Flip the biscotti over, and bake for another 10 minutes. The biscotti will become crisper when cooled. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup superfine sugar
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons whole milk at room temperature
3 pink lady apples, or any crisp eating apples (about 1 pound total)
1 teaspoon light brown or turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 x 9 inch springform cake pan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter your springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Into a food processor, put the flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, 7 tablespoons soft butter, superfine sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, and blitz till it forms a thick, smooth batter. Then, with the motor still running, pour the milk gradually down the funnel to lighten the mixture.
To do this by hand, if you prefer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, then beat in the eggs, followed by the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and milk, till you have a batter with a soft, dropping consistency.
Halve 1 of the apples, then peel, core, and chop one half into approx. ½ inch cubes, add these to the batter, and either pulse to mix, or beat in. Pour your batter into the springform pan.
Quarter and core the remaining apples (including the unused half apple, above), leaving the skin on, then finely slice them and arrange in pleasing concentric circles on top of the cake batter.
Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle this over the apples, then bake for 40-45 minutes, by which time the cake should be risen and golden. Pierce with a cake tester, which should have only a few crumbs sticking to it when removed.
Let cool for 1 hour, before springing it out of the pan to cut and serve warm, or leave to cool completely once out of the pan.
Sicilian Lemon Cookies
1 lemon, peeled
½ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 scant cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut lemon into quarters, discard seeds, and place in a blender to puree lemon.
Add sugar, egg, and butter to blender and mix until smooth.
Combine flour and baking powder and stir into blender 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn on blender to mix well.
Drop batter in small rounds from a teaspoon onto a buttered cooked sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5-6 minutes until golden. Cool and remove to a plate.
Makes about 18 small cookies.
This is a tart cookie; dust with powdered sugar, if you like a sweet contrast. You can make as few cookies as you wish, and refrigerate or freeze the remaining batter for another time.