Cook and writer Amber Guinness was born in London but grew up steeped in Italian culture and cuisine in a rustic restored farmhouse in Tuscany. Though she now calls Florence home, Guinness’s second cookbook, Italian Coastal, brings to life the glamorous and culinarily colourful shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The history and stories of the coastline, from Tuscany to the Amalfi Coast and Naples, across to the islands of Sicily and Capri, fill the pages of this vibrant collection.

Then, of course, there’s the food. Guinness’s recipes are chic yet accessible, and worth dragging out your brightest ceramics for: a vivacious spaghetti dish tossed through with zucchini and basil, crostini enlivened with ricotta and ’nduja, and this gorgeously zesty cake with a smooth ganache. It’s Guinness’s take on a Capri classic.

“This is a lemon version of the famous chocolate almond torte from the island of Capri,” she writes. “I love its nutty citrusy notes, particularly when paired with the smooth, velvety chocolate ganache. Whenever I see a lemon caprese on a restaurant menu I will order it, but am often downcast if the cake isn’t lemony enough, which is partly why I started making it for myself at home and why this recipe calls for the zest of five lemons. It also just happens to be gluten-free.”

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Amber Guinness’s flourless lemon and almond cake with chocolate ganache

Serves 8
Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

Butter, to grease the tin
100g blanched hazelnuts
75g white chocolate, broken into pieces
25g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
200g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra
200g ground almonds
4 organic eggs, separated
Grated zest of 5 lemons
Juice of ½ lemon
90g unsalted butter, melted

Ganache

100g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
150ml double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced. Butter a round 20cm cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

In a food processor blitz the hazelnuts, white chocolate, cornflour, baking powder, salt and 1 tbsp of caster sugar until roughly ground. Tip into a bowl, mix in the ground almonds and set aside.

Using handheld electric beaters, whisk the egg yolks, lemon zest and remaining sugar until thick and pale. Mix in the lemon juice and ground almond mixture.

Pour over the melted butter to help the mixture come together more easily.

Whisk the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form, adding the extra tbsp of sugar halfway through. Using a clean metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the almond mixture, bit by bit.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean(ish). If it comes out covered in batter, bake for another 5 minutes and test again. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 45–60 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.

About 15 minutes before you turn out the cake, make the chocolate ganache.

Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a simmer, then immediately remove from the heat. You don’t want the cream to boil or it will split the ganache.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in the bowl and leave to sit for 2 minutes, then whisk thoroughly until thick and glossy. Let the ganache cool for 10 minutes – it should be a loose but spoonable consistency that won’t run down the side of the cake.

Gradually spoon the ganache into the centre of the cake and smooth it out to the side using a spatula or the back of a spoon. Cut into slices and serve. The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Italian Coastal by Amber Guinness, published by Thames & Hudson Australia, AUD$59.99, available now. Photography © Saghar Setareh.