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Radicchio cake with white chocolate icing

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Sweet and savoury combinations that serve to confuse the mind and delight the palate have been gaining traction for a while; caramel with sea salt, beetroot with chocolate, and now sponge cake and salad leaves. Yes, it’s come to this. But before you balk at the thought of soggy lettuce, consider that the fiery Italian leaf radicchio imparts a depth of flavour that the humble iceberg couldn’t possibly muster.

Kcal: 224 per serving

Saturated fat: 2.4g per serving

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 tbsp dry breadcrumbs

1 litre water

2 tbsps sugar, plus 100g extra

150g trimmed round radicchio

100g butter, softened

3 eggs

tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tbsp brandy

1 tsp vanilla extract

A good grating of nutmeg

125g plain (all-purpose) flour

2 tsps baking powder

Pinch of salt

150g white chocolate, chopped

Method

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C/ gas mark 4. Butter a round 20cm (8inch) springform cake tin. Scatter the breadcrumbs inside, then shake it around so the crumbs stick to the butter. Then shake out the excess.

Step 2: Bring the water to the boil with two tablespoons of sugar. Loosen the radicchio leaves and add to the boiling sugar water. Simmer for a few minutes to soften. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, then chop up.

Step 3: Using an electric beater,mix the butter with the extra sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one by one, then whisk in the lemon zest, brandy, vanilla and nutmeg. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk until smooth. Fold in the cooled radicchio. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool before removing from the tin.

Step 4: For the icing, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Cool slightly, then when it starts to thicken, spread over the cake.

From Limoncello And Linen Water by Tessa Kiros (£25, Murdoch Books)

Eat with...

Wine expert Jane Parkinson suggests the perfect pairing

Marks & Spencer, Pink Port, £7.99, marksandspencer.com

Most people assume port is a heavy drink you have after a five-course dinner. But recently it has undergone an image makeover to attract a younger crowd. This one has a raspberry aroma together with a perky strawberry sweetness and smooth texture in the mouth that makes it great to drink with a light cake.

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