Her Ciambella Romagnola, the traditional cake of the region, is quite easy to make. It's wonderful for breakfast, dipped into warm milk or caffè latte. It's also nice at the end of a meal, either with a glass of dessert wine or with the slices drizzled with zabaione or a fruit sauce or glaze.
Her one word of warning: Don't scale the recipe. It works perfectly as is.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 250 g (1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
- 5 eggs
- 200 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted over a double boiler or in the microwave and allowed to cool
- 500 g (4 1/8 cups) unbleached flour; she uses Italian grade 00
- The grated zest of a lemon, yellow part only as the white is bitter
- Milk: About 250 ml (1 cup), plus a little more at the end
- 2 16-gram packets of lievito chimico, the Italian equivalent of baking powder. Barbara's was vanigliato, vanilla flavored. You can also use plain baking powder, about 6 teaspoons.
- A 26 cm (10-inch) ring mold. Barbara's had a non-stick coating ("It's what I've got").
- More flour for buttering the mold.
- Granella di zucchero for decorating the cake. This is a coarse-grained sugar used for decorating baked goods that goes by several names in English, including pearl sugar, coarse sugar, or decorators sugar.
In the meantime, put the sugar in a deep round-bottomed bowl and crack the eggs into it. Beat with a mixer set to low/medium for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is a creamy yellow. "At this point," Barbara says, "We have a cold zabaione."
Add about a third of the flour to the egg and sugar mixture, and beat the batter for about a minute. Add another third of the flour and beat for a minute more.
Add the melted butter and beat for another 30-40 seconds.
Next, add the lemon zest, using either a lemon peeler or a grater. Be careful to add just the yellow part, as the white pith is bitter.
Beat in half of the milk, and half of the remaining flour. Then beat in the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour.
The next step is to butter the ring mold; be thorough, and then flour it, tapping it upside down to remove excess flour.
Add the baking powder and beat it in; Barbara adds a little more milk at this point to make certain that it dissolves. The batter will be quite creamy.
Pour the batter into the pan, using a spatula to get the last of it. Give the filled pan a couple of quick shakes, and tap it once or twice against your countertop to level the batter.
Sprinkle some granella di zucchero over the cake. Granella di zucchero, as I noted above, is a coarse-grained sugar used for decorating baked goods that goes by several names in English, including pearl sugar, coarse sugar, or decorators sugar.
You'll want enough to cover the surface, about a cup I'd say.
Bake the ciambella on a low rack for 40-45 minutes.