Danish Storm is not a cake person. I am. So when she asked me to contribute a guest post on the subject of baking, I found it hard to choose a particular recipe.
Then I realised that there is one cake in my baking repertoire that I cook more often than any other. A cake that is at the same time excellent tasting, not too indulgent (you could happily have a slice every day with your morning coffee), Italian in origin, and dead easy to make. It had to be it. So let me tell you about the ciambella.
The ciambella is a round Italian cake (hence the name – ciambella means “tyre” in Italian) with an interesting floury texture, somehow in between a biscuit and a pound cake. It’s great for dipping in tea or coffee, and can also be served with desserts where its dry texture works wonders – particularly as an accompaniment to creamy puddings such as chocolate mousse or creme caramel.
The basic recipe below is flavoured with lemon and vanilla, but can be easily changed to incorporate different flavours instead: rhum, amaretto liqueur, orange zest, orange blossom water, rose water, etc.
For one ciambella:
115g butter (at room temperature)
450g self raising flour
170g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs (reserve 1 tsp of one yolk for the glaze)
2 tsp of vanilla essence
4 tbsp of milk
1) Rub the butter it into the flour and sugar with your hands until you get a mixture that looks like fine breadcrumbs.
2) Add the eggs, milk and salt and mix together into a dough.
3) Shape the dough into a thick sausage and form a ring with it.
4) Score the dough with 4 long slashes (in a criss-cross pattern).
5) Brush the ciambella with a glaze made with 1 tsp of beaten egg yolk and 1tsp of water.
6) Bake for 35 minutes at 190C (170C fan assisted).