Vorrei un macchiato e un cornetto di cioccolato.
I would like a coffee and a chocolate pastry.
This is the first phrase I learnt last week at my very first Italian Conversation Class. In truth, I already knew how to order my breakfast in Italian as it was something I quickly perfected when I spent a sunny Autumn and brisk Winter there a few years ago.
When I stepped off the plane in Rome, wide eyed and bursting with enthusiasm, I remember being bitterly disappointed not to be able to speak fluent Italian, as if simply being there and wanting to desperately would be enough to have me conversing like a local.
During the fourteen weeks we were there, we managed to grasp some words and phrases, mostly revolving around food! Lucia and Francesca, my daughters took to it naturally and were winning Italian hearts with their ciaos and grazies.
In the end, we understood much better than we spoke but with so much encouragement from our Italian friends and neighbours, we were able to communicate. What we lacked in grammar, we made up for with grand, sweeping hand gestures.
After returning from that life changing holiday, I promised myself that when I returned to Italy (because it is only a question of when…) I would be able to speak and understand with confidence. Which leads me to the lessons…
I now spend Thursday evenings with a small group of mis matched, yet equally passionate people indulging their love of language. Lucrezia, our vivacious teacher is patient but firm as she guides us back on track when the conversation turns to travel and torte.
And of course, there must be cake, which I have taken upon myself to provide. Because, as you know, I love to bake!
Last weeks Italian Cherry + Walnut Cake was well received and so tonight, I’m taking an Italian Apricot and Almond Cake.
A little conversation, a sip of vino, some rolling r’s and torte.
I am in Heaven.
Italian Apricot + Almond Cake (Dairy Free)
This cake is inspired by a wonderful television show I am enjoying immensely – Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca. You can find the original recipe on her blog, Sivia’s Cucina.
170g golden castor sugar
1 cup almond milk
zest of one lemon
pinch of pure vanilla powder
100 mls good olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
200g of white spelt flour, sifted
6 ripe apricots, quartered and seed removed
What to do:
Preheat your oven to 175C and grease and line a 21 cm square cake tin.
Add the golden castor sugar, almond milk and lemon zest to a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, around 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and vanilla powder and stir. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
Once cooled, whisk in your eggs and spelt flour and baking powder to form a smooth cake batter. Pour into the cake tin and place the apricots on top, overlapping them if you need to.
Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bad for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before slicing. Silvia recommends serving with sweetened ricotta and I think that is a buonissimo idea!
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