(Grandma’s Bundt Cake)
For most Italians, this recipe is a classic breakfast or afternoon snack. Still very popular these days, you can find a ciambellone in many bars and restaurants, sometimes served with fresh fruit for a healthy dessert. Each nonna (grandmother) has a different version. Some prefer yoghurt to full butter, others like the spiciness of olive oil. The recipe below was my mom’s and it calls for butter and a bit of cornstarch for a super light texture.
If you are an experienced baker, you will recognize the technique called “the creaming method” because the butter is made creamy and fluffy along with the sugar, before being mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.
Overall, this is a very easy recipe that can be used as a canvas for endless variations.
Ingredients: 180g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g icing, or very fine sugar
Very fine zest of 1 untreated lemon 1 Vanilla pod, scraped (or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract)
160g all purpose flour (cake or pastry flour will also work)
70g corn or potato starch
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 whole eggs, room temperature
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 heavy pinch of salt Start by preheating the oven to 180C/350F.
Prepare a bundt pan with butter and flour.
Sift together flour, starch and baking powder. Set aside.
Whisk the 2 whole eggs, 6 egg whites and salt until liquified. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, start whisking at slow speed, the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. When the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy.
At a low speed incorporate the eggs, slowly. If the mixture starts looking like scrambled eggs it means you added the eggs too fast or the eggs were too cold. In this case add some of the flour and wait until it is fully incorporated before adding more eggs.
When done with the eggs, add the rest of the powdered ingredients trying not to over mix.
At this point, if you have time, you could refrigerate the batter for 12 hours. This extra step would yield a more flavourful cake and gives the gluten time to rest in case you over mixed the batter.
Pour the batter into the bundt pan, level the top and bake for about 40 minutes.
Lower the baking temperature if the top is browning too fast and use a wooden skewer to check for doneness.
Cool before un-molding and dust with icing sugar before serving.
Variations Chocolate version: replace 30g of white flour with 30g unsweetened cocoa powder. Add chocolate chips if desired. By tossing them in flour before adding them to the batter, it will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan. If you want to add raisins, plump 50g in water or rhum, then toss them in flour before adding them to the batter. Interesting spices to add to the flours: cinnamon (1tsp), tonka bean (¼ of a bean), lime or orange zest instead of lemon juice.