Italian cuisine has always fascinated me and as much as I love it, I must admit my knowledge about it is quite limited. For more than a year now, I have been following Giulia's blog Juls Kitchen, who blog's from the beautiful Tuscany, bringing authentic Italian recipes to the virtual world. She is also the author of the cookbook My Grandma's Recipes featuring classic recipes of the Tuscan culinary tradition. I'm so happy she is on Journey Kitchen to share a fabulous homey and traditional Italian cake with us.
I have been admiring Kulsum's blog for months, in love with her Indian recipes, with that Middle Easter hint that makes her tasty dishes even more interesting and appealing. How have I been able to meet Kulsum, born and brought up an Indian Bohra household in Kuwait? Twitter is the answer, and the reason I'm here today with a guest post regarding the Italian breakfast!
As a grown-up, my daily breakfast is now a cup of jasmine green tea with two slices of toasted bread and a translucent spread of home made jam, but as a child I adored the ciambellone, our home made and rustic ring cake, a classic of many Italian family breakfasts.
This is not a fancy cake, you won't see this golden brown ring cake in a patisserie window next to glossy macarons and deep chocolate masterpieces. Tough, I assure you that you can find it on a morning breakfast table in many Italian houses, lovingly sliced by the caring hands of mothers for their sleepy children, or generously spread with home made fruit jam by hungry students ready to face a new day.
I love every aspect of this cake, from the spongy and crumbly texture, born to be soaked in a large cup of milk or tea, to the crunchy crust, powdered with sweet icing sugar. This is the first cake I have ever mixed and baked under the smiling eyes of my mum, during endless fall Sunday afternoons, foretasting the Monday breakfast.
Do you have enough time to indulge in your breakfast rituals? Slice the ciambellone, spread it with your favourite jam and soak it into caffellatte, a generous cup of warm milk and coffee, one of the most typical Italian breakfast drinks, a close second of cappuccino (made with the foam of whole milk and coffee).
Are you in a hurry, which happens most of the time? Just grab a slice of ciambellone to munch on while savouring a cup of strong espresso or moka: yes, savouring even if you are in a hurry, because coffee is a pleasure, and I do believe you can always carve out a minute to indulge in a cup of coffee, made by the book. I like it dark, unsweetened, with a remote hint of roasted cocoa beans.
After a few days, the ciambellone can get stale, do not panic! Just toast thick slices of it and have them spread with butter and a sprinkle of cane sugar, a perfect match to the nutty flavour of the spelt flour, my favourite cereal so far.
SPELT FLOUR AND COCOA RING CAKE
In your shopping list: 4 free range eggs - yolks and whites separated, 220 g caster sugar, 280 g plain yoghurt, 1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract, 300 g whole spelt flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder + butter and flour to grease the mould
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar with an electric mixer, until light and pale yellow.
Beat in the yoghurt and the vanilla extract, then sift in the flour, the baking powder and a pinch of salt, then mix until smooth.
Beat the egg whites until stiff picks form. Fold them into the cake batter.
Butter the base and sides of a ring cake tin about 20 cm large and pour in 2/3 of the batter.
Sift into the remaining batter the cocoa powder and pour it over the cake.
Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown.
Let it cool completely on a wire rack before dusting generously with icing sugar.