Sorry that I haven’t written lately, but I’ve been busy – honest. It’s so much easier to find time to think about recipes in the winter.
Anyway, ciambelloni….. I was under the impression that this was an Italian cake that was always relatively light, plain and simple. But then I kept coming across more and more variations – versions flavoured with saffron or lots of orange zest, decorated versions, denser versions made with shedfuls of butter.... So it seems that there may be as many versions as there are people who cook it and the only real constant is the ring shape.
So, not to be outdone, here's my version which has the simple qualities that first got me interested. This cake is good at breakfast time with coffee or as a dessert with sweet wine or any time you like with a cup of tea. It’s pretty easy to make but even easier if you use a free-standing electric mixer.
250 g ricotta
220 g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
250 g plain flour – preferably 00 flour which seems to work best
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon, very finely grated
Some of the juice of the lemon (if necessary – see below)
Icing sugar to decorate
Butter and flour a 24 cm ring mould – you need to be pretty thorough about this, because cakes seem to like sticking to ring moulds. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Beat the ricotta, sugar and lemon zest together for a minute or so until smooth and thoroughly mixed. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating until completely combined – this shouldn't take long.
Sieve over the flour and baking powder and mix it in gently but thoroughly. This should give you a fairly loose but not runny batter. If the batter seems a little too thick to be spread easily in the ring mould, add a little of the lemon juice to loosen it.
Spread the mixture as evenly as you can around the ring mould and flatten the top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is light brown and a skewer comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin a little and then turn out carefully onto a cooling rack. Decorate with a sprinkling of icing sugar before serving, if you’re so inclined.