During the holiday season, we tend to fill our tables with the same traditional dishes year after year. But the dessert spread is prime for experimenting — and this year, we’re going Italian. “Italian baking masterpieces, the likes of panettone or pandoro, are not always easy to make at home,” admits Giuseppe Dell’Anno, winner of The Great British Bake Off and author of the new book Giuseppe’s Easy Bakes.

“Instead, these recipes have been handpicked for their deliciousness and simplicity, to provide you with tempting flavor combinations — of course, unapologetically Italian — in a set of simple and accessible bakes.” Add one of these treats to your menu this year!

Grandma’s Apple Cake

(Serves 10)

3 sweet apples

Zest of 1 lemon

3 1⁄3 tbsp. lemon juice

4 eggs, at room temperature

3⁄4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1⁄2 cup mascarpone

1 3⁄4 cups plus 2 tbsp. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp. cloves

2 tbsp. superfine sugar

2 1⁄4 oz. apricot or peach jam


1. Grease a 9″ springform pan. Line base with parchment. Heat oven to 350°F. Dice 2 apples; toss in bowl with lemon zest, juice.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk next 4 ingredients on high 5 minutes. Trickle in butter. Add mascarpone; whisk 1 minute.

3. Fold in next 4 ingredients and diced apples. Pour into pan. Core and thinly slice third apple; arrange on top of cake. Sprinkle with sugar; bake 1 hour.

4. Cool cake 5 minutes. Microwave jam 20 seconds.; brush over cake. Cool in pan until just warm, then cool completely on a rack and serve.

PER SERVING: 346 calories, 5 grams protein, 46 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 24 grams sugar, 16 grams fat.

Pine Nut Cookies

(Serves 24)

1⁄2 cup pine nuts

1 2⁄3 cups flour, plus extra for dusting

1⁄2 cup superfine sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1⁄4 cup vegetable oil

1 medium egg

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Zest of 1 orange

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Reserve two large spoonfuls of pine nuts; chop remaining roughly and set aside.

2. Put flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix. Make a well in the middle and add oil, egg, vanilla and orange zest. Stir with a spoon, then by hand until it comes together as a soft dough.

3. Add chopped pine nuts to the bowl and mix in. Divide dough into 24 balls. Press each one into the remaining whole pine nuts so that a few stick to it. Arrange on baking sheet and bake 15 to 16 minutes.

4. Cool completely on the baking sheet. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

PER SERVING: 90 calories, 2 grams protein, 12 grams carbs, 0 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 5 grams fat.

Chestnut Squares

(Serves 24)

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1⁄2 cup raisins

1⁄2 cup pine nuts

3 1⁄2 cups plus 1 tbsp. chestnut flour

1⁄4 tsp. salt

2 1⁄2 cups cold water

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, stripped from stalks

3 tbsp. chestnut honey or clear honey


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9×13″ jelly roll pan with 1 tbsp. oil. Put raisins in a bowl and cover with hot water. In a small nonstick pan over medium, toast pine nuts.

2. Sift flour into a large bowl. Add salt and 1 tbsp. oil. Place a damp dish towel under bowl to stop it from moving; trickle in water while whisking. Whisk until smooth; it will be liquidy. Drain raisins; add half to batter with half the walnuts and pine nuts. Whisk again.

3. Pour batter into pan. Scatter over remaining raisins, walnuts, pine nuts and rosemary. Drizzle 1 tbsp. oil over top; bake 21 to 23 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Remove and cut into 24 squares. Drizzle with honey just before serving.

PER SERVING: 127 calories, 2 grams protein, 19 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 5 grams fat.