A small, inset picture in an article in Waitrose’s magazine – but unaccompanied with instructions – inspired me to look for this recipe. The texture is grainier than a cheesecake made with cream cheese, but it is also more juicy and succulent. Lemon zest gives it fragrance and lift. This is a very quick and simple recipe. In Corsica it is made with Brocciu cheese, a fresh sheep cheese, but Ricotta can be substituted. If anyone tries it with soft sheep or goat cheese, please let me know how it turns out (unless I beat you to it). Also the lemon zest may be replaced with orange zest or orange flower water.
To make a lighter Fiadone, it is possible to separate the whites from the yolks of the eggs and beat them until stiff separately before adding them back into the mix.
500g fresh Brocciu cheese (or Ricotta)
zest of half an unwaxed lemon
one shot of eau de vie (I used kirschwasser)
a knob of butter (‘une noix de beurre’)
Preheat the oven to 180C
In a bowl, whip the eggs with the sugar and lemon zest until foamy, then add the cheese bit by bit, continue to whip briskly as you go. When the cheese is thoroughly worked into the mixture, beat in a shot of eau de vie.
Pour the batter into a buttered pie dish or springform pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Despite the eggs, this cake will rise only very slightly and collapse again after being removed from the oven. Serve cool.
Now, if you’re sensitive and a bit conservative about things, then please stop reading right now – because this recipe is quite simply naughty and inappropriate.
So let’s you and me just wait a moment while the prudes leave the room.
First of all there’s the simple matter of the zucchini. The British, with their characteristic reserve (no sex please, we’re British), refer to the zucchini as a courgette, as though a soft consonant and a diminutive ‘ette’ suffix will gloss over the fact that the zucchini – with its racy z and two c’s plumped up like bums or breasts – is quite simply the most carnal of vegetables. Linger at the greengrocer’s and exchange meaningful glances with passersby near the zucchini and you’ll see what I mean. They’re, how shall we say, longer than they are wide in a most useful way.* So please don’t call it a courgette. Give yourself up to the pleasure of the zucchini.
It’s not just the less-than-innocent zucchini that makes this recipe inappropriate, though. Zucchini bread, that staple of the Methodist bake sale, is generally a polite, restrained and penitential enough baked good to express proper Protestant virtue. It simply doesn’t taste voluptuous enough or provide enough moisture to lead you down that broad, easy road to hell. Well this one does. This is a zucchini bread that wants to be cake. And it wants you to eat it.
2 1/2 C plain flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp mace (or nutmeg if you have no mace)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 T pure vanilla extract (yes, that’s a tablespoon)
2 tsp lemon zest (and there’s that racy z again)
2 C coarsely grated zucchini (about one well-endowed zucchini)
1 C walnuts, crumbled and toasted
Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Butter and flour two 8x4x2 1/2 metal loaf pans.
Whisk flour, cinnamon, allspice, mace, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend and set aside. Whisk sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon peel in a large bowl to blend. Whisk in the flour mixture. Mix in the zucchini and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake breads until tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Turn breads out onto a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.
This stores fairly well, though generally it doesn’t last long. I usually freeze one loaf and eat the other. It might be tempting to add dried fruit such as raisins or apricots, but they will just sink to the bottom.
*12 August 2012: Just as if to prove a point, my neighbour Lucy, who is a transsexual prostitute, dropped in today. When she saw the pile of zucchini I’d brought in from the farmer’s market, she pointed and said, “You know what those are good for, don’t you?” I doubt Lucy has ever actually eaten a zucchini.
Those two blackened and forlorn bananas lurking in the fruit bowl are actually underdogs ready for glory. Banana bread toasted and dripping with salted butter is just such a good thing.
Preheat oven to 350F/175C
2/3 C sugar
75g (1/3 C) unsalted butter
Then mash in:
2 overripe bananas
And beat in:
Then mix in the dry ingredients:
1 1/2 C plain flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
You can stop there, or you can add:
1/2 C coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are nice)
1/4 C chopped dried fruit (apricots, currants, sultanas, prunes, you name it)
1 tsp cinnamon
Pour the batter into a buttered bread pan and bake for 45 mins to an hour until a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool, remove from pan, and slice when needed.
It’s a cold, wet morning in London, so I need little excuse to fire up the oven and bake a rich, decadent coffee cake. This recipe skimps on nothing – it is full of butter and is generous on the streusel. It also uses lots of vanilla extract (not essence), so it’s absolutely crucial that real vanilla rather than imitation is used. If you have only imitation vanilla, use only half the amount, then pour the rest down the drain and buy real vanilla next time you’re at the shop.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F
Have ingredients at room temperature
2 C plain flour
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Rub or cut in:
1/2 C (110g) unsalted butter
Break into a measuring cup:
1 egg. Beat, fill to 1 C with milk and add to dry ingredients with 2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
Pour into a greased spring-form pan and cover with the streusel topping – see below.
4 Tbsp plain flour
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Blend these ingredients with the back of a spoon until they crumble and add:
1/2 C chopped pecans
Sprinkle evenly over the cake batter and bake for approximately 25 minutes until a tester inserted comes out clean. Serve warm. Unlike many coffee cakes, this will keep for a day or two and remains delicious and succulent.