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The most traditional Italian home made cake is without doubt la ciambella, a ring-shaped sponge cake which, in recipe books, is often called la ciambella della nonna (Granma’s ciambella) to make it sound more ‘authentic’. To bake una ciambella you need a ring-shaped cake tin, but if you don’t have one you can always use a normal round cake tin, and place an empty can (e.g. an empty tin of tomatoes) in the middle in order to create the characteristic hole. This is what my mother used to do when, as kids, we lived abroad in a country where ciambella tins were not available. The problem with this method is that the can tends to move about a bit when you pour the batter in, and during the cooking and rising process, so the final result looks more like a flat tire than a ciambella!
Allora, here is a very simple and healthy version of the traditional ciambella. N.B. To quickly measure all the ingredients you can use an empty 125 gram yoghurt pot if you have one (equivalent to 150 ml).
|1 vasetto di yogurt bianco
2 vasetti di zucchero semolato
3 vasetti di farina 00
buccia grattugiata di 1 limone
mezzo vasetto di olio di semi (girasole o mais)
1 bustina di lievito in polvere
un poco di latte
|1 small pot of plain yoghurt
2 pots of caster sugar
3 pots of plain flour
grated rind of 1 lemon
half a pot of vegetable oil (sunflower or maize)
2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
a little milk
Grease a ciambella tin, and dust it lightly with flour. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the eggs, yoghurt, oil, sugar, and lemon rind, and beat using an electric whisk, until pale and creamy like batter; if it’s a bit stiff just add a little milk to it.
Pour the mixture into the ciambella tin, and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Turn off the oven, but leave the cake for another 5 minutes before taking it out. Leave it to cool in the tin.
You c0uld use the grated rind of an orange instead of the lemon peel, or add some vanilla essence. Other variations include: adding some pine nuts or other chopped nuts, raisins soaked in liqueur, or candied peel.