Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Torta Contadina

With Autumn closing in I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes, to make summer stretch that little bit further. This is a delicious Italian cake recipe that's quick to put together - you can vary the filling and use up what ever is lingering in the fruit bowl or raid the store cupboard. 

It's lovely sliced and served as a cake for tea, or works really well warmed up with a dollop of custard for dessert.  I like to "syrup" this to make it that little more moist, but this is optional. 

Torta Contadina

200g (7oz) plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
200g castor sugar
3 eggs
1 vanilla pod
zest of 1 lemon
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
80g chopped dates or currants (optional)
50 g pine nuts
100g (3.5oz) of butter at room temperature
2 pears, peeled and cut into slices
50g (2oz) dark chocolate chips

Line a 25cm cake tine with baking paper and preheat the over to 180C/350F

Use a whist to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest together. Stir the the milk and mix until smooth. Add the pine nuts and dates if using. Stir well to combine. Tear the butter into small pieces (if its too cold to do this easy pop it in the microwave for 10second intervals until it's soft) and whisk them in. 

Pour mixture into the prepared tin and add pears. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden. 

If syruping the cake, add 1/2 cup of water to 1/2 a cup of sugar, juice of one lemon and some lemon zest to a pot. Bring to the boil and then switch off until you cake comes out the oven. Pour over the cake as it comes out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin. 


*When whisking the butter in don't worry if there are little pieces visible in the batter, in fact, you want these! They cook to create gorgeous buttery pockets in the cake! 

*Substitute dates with white chocolate chips and add canned peaches for a change.  

*If using a canned fruit, set the juices from the can aside to use as your syrup. 

*If the cake is going to stand for any length of time, I recommend syruping it to keep it fresh for longer. 

*If you're baking this as a dessert, it can also be baked in a stoneware or glass over proof dish, and covered with custard before spooning out into bowls. 

It doesn't tend to hang around long, but on the off chance you have any left overs, store in an airtight container until you need it, up to a week.

Ps, It's GREAT to be back. x 

A girly sort of cake

Vintage parties are always my favourites to make a cake for. This simple cake is no exception.

Be on the look out for inexpensive, pretty silk flowers. I have a small drawer full and they come in so useful as fillers in fresh arrangements, or like in this case,  as the star of the show.

Pearls and crystal look beads each threaded onto a piece of florist wire and then twisted to a stiff straight piece of wire which can easily be pressed into a cake, add great, reusable instant glamour.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


I’d like to think that everyone has their “someone”. The friend who you don’t have to see often, to be friends.  Conversations picked up like they ended yesterday, though in reality they ended months, or even years, ago. A friendship that doesn’t gather dust, no matter how long it is “shelved” by the freight train of life. 
In my 25 short years on the third rock from the sun, I’ve tangled up a few of these “besties” in my time line. When I think of their faces, my heart brims with love - knowing that no stretch of time or length of continents or breadth of seas will ever change how much I love them or, hopefully, how much they love me in return. 

I wonder in awe at friendships that have spanned nearly two decades, when I’m not even (that) close to being three decades old.  
Tomorrow one of these friends becomes a stow away on my train, even if it is just for a couple of days, before she jumps off again to write her masters and wrestle with the law of human rights, as she works toward making a real difference in our world. She is one who will fight for the silenced voices to be made loud, for the lowly and cast aside to raised up, for all men, women and children to be treated with dignity and equality - she’ll look hot doing it - and I believe she will win. It’s the only reason we’ll let her go. 
And we will pray, earnestly, that she is returned to us, though we know that she will always go where she can make the difference for many, even if it means that the living in each others’ lives is limited to a few, short journeys.
Tomorrow is going to be a great day. And thats enough for me. 

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