Thursday, 21 July 2011

Comfort cooking

I grew up spending all my summers in Italy and certain taste combinations take me right back to those hot, sunny days by the beach. You know when you take a bite of something and you are immediately transported back to another time and place... a bit like Proust and his madeleines?

The Torta della Nonna (literally "Grandmother's Cake") is a pastry case filled with a creamy concoction of ricotta and candied lemon peel and, for me, is the quintessential taste of Italy. It's sold in most bakeries and cafes and is one of my favourites. I've yet to come across a decent slice in London.

So as I stared out of my window at the miserable grey drizzle this morning I decided to transport myself back to summer with my tastebuds. I guess you could call it comfort eating...although it's more like comfort cooking! I don't have time to make pastry from scratch and faff around lining a tart tin so I took my trusty basic muffin recipe and tweaked it to make my own version of my favourite Italian cake.

They are delicious: light and fluffy like muffins should be but also dense with ricotta and studded with little bursts of lemony sunshine. They take less than 10 minutes to prep and 20 to cook so in half an hour you could be enjoying summer in your kitchen.

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

  • 300 grams plain flour
  • 120 grams caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pot (250 grams) ricotta
  • 100 mls milk
  • 90 grams unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp candied lemon peel
  • zest of 1 large, unwaxed lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • squeeze of lemon juice

1. pre-heat oven to 200C (180C FAN) and line 12 muffin tins with cases
2. sift the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and add candied lemon peel. Mix to coat peel in flour mixture (so they don't sink to the bottom)
3. whisk together all the wet ingredients plus zest in a another bowl or jug
4. pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ones and mix just enough to bring it all together
5. spoon into muffin cases and cook for 20 minutes


  1. I might try these with gluten-free flour. I'll let you know what they're like. x

  2. They sound delish - I know exactly what you mean by 'comfort cooking', there is something very soothing about baking, although the washing up afterwards tends to shatter any serenity I've achieved!


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