Food to go with The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim's charming 1922 novel which the Cornflower Book Group have been reading and are talking about here - well, there's Mellersh's apricot tart, the nuts over which Mrs. Fisher is inclined to sit long at the dinner table, and there's always pasta:
"Francesca from the sideboard watched Mrs. Fisher's way with maccaroni gloomily, and her gloom deepened when she saw her at last take her knife to it and chop it small.
Mrs. Fisher really did not know how else to get hold of the stuff .... Years of practice, she reflected, chopping it up, years of actual living in Italy, would be necessary to learn the exact trick. Browning managed maccaroni wonderfully. She remembered watching him one day when he came to lunch with her father, and a dish of it had been ordered as a compliment to his connection with Italy. Fascinating, the way it went in. No chasing round the plate, no slidings off the fork, no subsequent protrusions of loose ends - just one dig, one whisk, one thrust, one gulp, and lo, yet another poet had been nourished."
The book's setting has inspired the choice of baked goods this month, as San Salvatore, the castle in which the ladies spend their enchanted April, is in fact Castello Brown in Portofino in the Italian province of Genoa, the castle being a fort which was bought in 1867 by Montague Yeats Brown (then English consul in Genoa) who turned it into a delightful villa, and so I've made a Genoese sponge.
The recipe I used comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Every Day and is also to be found here, but instead of fruit, I've filled it with ricotta beaten with caster sugar and lemon zest. I hope Lotty and her friends would approve.