I first learnt to make this cake whilst living in Italy. I was employed by a lovely family who lived in Southern Tuscany where I spent four glorious months teaching their daughter English. During the day, she attended school and I would hang out with Nonna Rosa. A wise and an amazing cook. She would scurry around the kitchen so quickly and before I could blink, a cake was coming out of the oven or a risotto had been made. She also taught me how to knit, but that's another story.
Rosa made this cake weekly and it would sit on the marble bench covered in a light snow of icing sugar. I would often eat it for breakfast with an espresso before my day started. You can also use blood oranges or other citrus like lemons, although you may have to adjust the sugar depending on the sharpness of the particular fruit you're using. Candied citrus is a lovely addition to this cake and can be made by gently simmering slices of your citrus in a sugar syrup until they have caramelised.
Take your time when you rub the citrus zest into the sugar, it makes all the difference – trust me!
MAKES 1 CAKE
2 oranges, finely grated zest and juice
300g caster sugar
300ml extra virgin olive oil
300g self-raising flour
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter and line a 23cm round tin.
2. In a large bowl, rub the zest and sugar together until the sugar is fragrant and damp.
3. Beat the eggs into the sugar and whisk until pale and thick. Add the milk, olive oil and juice of the oranges and stir well.
4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and make a well. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the flour, mixing until just blended. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared tin.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and a skewer comes out clean (approximately 35-40 minutes). Cool slightly in tin and turn out to completely cool before serving.