This is a recipe from my cousin Antonia, who is a very good cook. It does work best made in a cake tin with a hole in the middle, as the mixture is very dense. If the cake starts to get too brown during the cooking, cover the top with a piece of foil.
Makes 1 x 20cm cake
200g amaretti biscuits
1 glass of amaretto or sherry
250g plain flour, plus a little extra for the tin
2 tsp baking powder
220g butter or margarine, room temperature, plus extra for greasing the tin
220g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on cake
Pinch of salt
50g chopped almonds
50g ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract
Milk or yoghurt, if necessary
Preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas mark 3. Grease a 20cm cake tin and sprinkle the inside with flour.
Crush the amaretti biscuits in a bowl and add the amaretto or sherry. Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar with the salt in another bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a spoonful of the flour mixture each time, and beat well. Add the chopped and ground almonds, then the rest of the flour, the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk or yoghurt until it is a dropping consistency. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin, even it out with a spatula or palette knife, then place the crushed amaretti biscuits on top.
Cover with the rest of the mixture and sprinkle the top with sugar. Place in the preheated oven for one hour. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Serve on its own or with cream.
Liz's banana bread
My good friend Liz is a brilliant chef and this cake is one of her signature recipes. She always makes it for parties and it's absolutely delicious.
Makes 1 loaf (12 slices)
4 small, ripe bananas
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
25g butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
60g walnuts, roughly chopped
Put the sultanas in a bowl with the rum and leave to soak.
Grease a 900g loaf tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/gas mark 3½.
Peel and mash the bananas – you need about 300g in all.
Sift the flour with the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
Melt the butter, then mix it with the sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, then add the flour mixture and stir well. Add the mashed bananas, walnuts, sultanas and rum.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45–60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, before turning out. Store in an airtight cake tin.
• This recipe was amended on 26 July 2011. The original, taken from the book, referred to 125g plain flour. This has been corrected.
I love this dessert, which we used to serve in Murano when we first opened. Serve with vanilla ice cream or fromage frais.
125g butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
125g ground almonds
1 tsp cornflour
For the sweet pastry:
330g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
Pinch of salt
100g icing sugar
200g cold butter, diced
First make the sweet pastry. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs – you can do this in a food processor if you prefer. Beat two of the eggs, add them to the bowl and mix well to form a dough, but don't overwork. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour before using.
Marinate the prunes in the armagnac for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas mark 5.
Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3mm and use it to line a 28cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Trim the edges neatly, prick the base and leave to rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.
To make the almond cream, whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, then mix in the almonds and cornflour.
Spread the almond cream over the pastry case. Add the marinated prunes on top and cook for 30 minutes until the tart is golden brown. Leave to cool, then remove from the tin and serve.
• Extracted from A Taste of Home: 200 Quick and Easy Recipes by Angela Hartnett, to be published by Ebury Press on 7 July at £25 (order a copy from the Guardian bookshop for £18.49). © Angela Hartnett 2011. Photographs © Jonathan Lovekin