Italians typically have a hard time following recipes. Is it because they are basically anarchists, even in the kitchen? Yes! But it's also because Italian recipes are often so vague that they function as a mere series of hints. Italians who observe me weighing and measuring during recipe testing are incredulous, since they calculate a occhio (by eye). Where quantities are customarily specified, their recipes often substitute q.b., which stands for quanto basta (a sufficient amount). Instructions like "cook until done" are common. Although I write recipes like an American, I confess that I follow them like an Italian - adding or subtracting ingredients and improvising.
I wrote about my favorite cake recipe - the Tre, Tre, Tre Cake - for Epicurious. Recently, with a rather empty larder and company coming for dinner, I played around with that recipe and came up with another delicious dessert, which I've named Anarchy Cake. It's a sort of fruit tart, but doesn't involve the fuss of pastry. Sliced, lightly sugared fruit is dropped onto a batter. Almost any soft fruit will do, but cherries, berries, peaches, apricots, and plums are ideal. Chocoholics can substitute 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate.
Even my fussy super-Tuscan husband, who doesn't eat dessert and refuses to eat anything made with butter, approves of this olive-oil cake with fruit. Think that's an unlikely combination? Try my cake for yourself - it's only a suggestion!
1-1½ cups sliced, pitted (and peeled if required) fruit OR 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, OR 2-4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate or any combination of any of the above or anything else you can dream up *
¾ cup cake or pastry flour
¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch of fine salt
½ cup superfine sugar plus more for sprinkling over fruit and cake
¼ cup milk mixed with ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
*use soft fruit like berries, peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, grapes
1 Preheat the oven to 350. Cover the bottom of a 10" springform pan with parchment paper, oil and lightly flour.
2 Peel and slice fruit (neatness doesn't count) and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar
3 combine flour, baking powder and salt.
4 Beat the egg with ½ cup superfine sugar for at least 5 minutes or until light and fluffy
add the cocoa if you're using it and mix until smooth.
5 Beat in the extra virgin and stir in the milk with balsamico to combine.
6 Fold in the flour mixture and pour into the prepared springform pan.
7 Drop the sliced fruit over the batter and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of sugar. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until cake tests done.