Orange meringue cake
A tall crown of airy meringue tops this moist and zestily orange cake – this recipe of Olivia’s is a total winner.

Serves 6-8

For the cake:
125g. (4 oz / 1 stick) butter, softened
125g. (4oz / 2/3 cup) caster (granulated) sugar
4 free-range egg yolks
3 teaspoons baking powder
150g. (5oz / ¼ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
The grated zest and the juice of two oranges
For the meringue:
4 free-range egg whites
150g. (5 oz / 1 cup) icing (powdered) sugar

Heat the oven to 160 C (325 F) Gas 3 (electric fan-assisted ovens should be set at 150 C) Butter a 24cm. (9 ½ inch) springform cake tin and line the bottom with a round of baking parchment.

Make the cake Beat the softened butter with the sugar until light and creamy, then beat in the egg yolks one by one. Sift the baking powder and flour together and stir them into the mixture and also the zest and juice of the oranges. Continue to mix until all the ingredients are incorporated and spoon it into the cake tin.

Leave it for a moment and prepare the meringue.
Put the egg whites in a large and a scrupulously clean bowl and whisk until soft peaks form, start to whisk in the icing sugar slowly, continue whisking well until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the cake making an even layer.

Place on a rack in the lower half of the oven (this is because the cake rise up quite alarming during baking). Bake until the sides of the cake have pulled away from the tin and the meringue topping is crisp and golden, about 1 hour. Ovens do vary and this cake may take longer to bake until set, specially in gas ovens.

Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely in its tin. Run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen before unmoulding. Use a palate knife or a spatula to case the cake off the tin base on to a serving dish. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar.

Crespelle with ricotta, spinach and rosemary

Serves 4

For the crespelle:
125 g (4 oz / 1 cup) plain (all-pourpose) flour
2 eggs, beaten
250 ml (8 fl oz / 1 cup) milk
½ teaspoon salt
extra virgin olive oil, to cook the crespelle
For the filling:
600 g (1 ¼ lb) fresh spinach or 400g. (14 oz) frozen leaf spinach, defrosted
500g (1 lb) ricotta cheese
60 g (2 oz / ½ cup) parmesan cheese, grated
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
salt & pepper
For the sauce:
125 g (4 oz) cherry tomatoes, quartered
30 g (1 oz / 2 tbsp) butter
125 ml (4 fl oz / ½ cup) double (heavy) cream
60 g (2 oz / ½ cup) parmesan cheese, grated

In a bowl, mix together the flour, eggs and a pinch of salt and add the milk to form a thick batter. Let the batter stand for half an hour. Brush a small, hot frying pan with olive oil, add a ladle full of the batter, tipping the pan until the bottom is coated, and cook for one minute on each side. Transfer to a plate and repeat until all the batter is finished. Make the filling: If you are using fresh spinach, wash the spinach first, then pile the leaves into a large pan, put on the lid and cook over a medium heat until the spinach start to wilt, about 2 minutes. You don’t need any water in the pan, as the water still clinging to the spinach leaves will create enough steam to cook the spinach. Drain and cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze lightly to remove any wateriness and chop roughly. If you are using frozen spinach, cook the defrosted spinach in a covered pan for 5 minutes.

Place the spinach, the ricotta, parmesan and rosemary in a bowl, mix thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oven to 180 C (350 F) gas 4.

Fill each crepe with 2 tablespoons of the filling, roll up and arrange in a buttered ovenproof serving dish. To prepare the sauce: melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat, add the cherry tomatoes and cook them on a gently heat for 5 minutes. Pour in the cream, remove the pan from the heat immediately and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and pour the sauce over the prepared crespelle, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake until the crespelle are hot through and just turning crisp at the edges, about 10 minutes. Serve at once.

Think ahead
Unfilled, the crespelle can be made up to 2 days ahead. Stack the crespelle in a single layers separated by greaseproof paper, cover and refrigerate. Or you can fill and roll the crespelle and arrange them in the oven dish up to a day ahead, cover and chill until needed. Just before serving, make the sauce and bake as directed.



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