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This is one of those moreish cakes from the Italian country kitchen that’s versatile and quick and easy to make – a very simple cake for the kids to make for Father’s Day

It’s one of those one pan recipes that I love – we are all busy, and who has the time to follow a complicated recipe that requires a lot of dishes and  washing up – not me?

My 3 and 5 year old grandsons begged me to make this with them the other day after watching Syliva Calloca’s fabulous Italian cooking series Made in Italy.   In my experience kids love cooking programmes – not all of them, but I recommend hers and Jamie Oliver’s first series called At Home, SBS Food Safari and Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s River Cottage – and they also love cooking.  If you want to get kids into eating healthy food – teach them how to cook

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Cooking with Taj and Rocco – they’re the ones who made the cake.

Traditionally it is made with apricots, but I use any fresh fruit I have – today it was peaches and strawberries from the garden.  The boys made it with what they had – pear and rhubarb.  All scrummy. It’s a soft and light cake, more like a sponge really, not heavy and easy to cut up for school lunches.

Recipe 

  • 170g soft brown sugar (or caster)
  • 230ml milk
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • seeds of one vanilla bean
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups self raising wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • halved or sliced fresh fruit to decorate top
  • flaked almonds, for sprinkling

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC (160oC fan forced).
  2. Grease and flour a 21cm square or 27x21cm rectangular cake tin.  Line it with baking paper.
  3. In a large saucepan (you are going to make the whole cake in this) place the sugar, milk and lemon zest and heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. THIS DOES NOT NEED TO BOIL.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla seeds and olive oil.  Let the mixture cool for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add the beaten egg, flour, bicarbonate of soda and whisk to form a smooth batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and place your fresh fruit evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes until pale and golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let it cool a little before you cut it.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.