Christmas Marbled Ciambella

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5 more sleeps… If the Christmas spirit is abundant in your house as it is in mine, you are probably busy in the kitchen baking cookies, getting high on ginger and nutmeg and humming carols on repeat.

It is no mystery that this is a time of the year I cherish and hold dear. I believe in the magic of Christmas, in the mystical power of the nativity story and I am known to spot Santa’s elves in every corner, helping the old fella compiling his “naughty or nice list”.

I do know for a fact that a sure way to fast track a prime spot in the “nice” list is by baking Christmas treats, so if you need inspiration, this cake is for you. It’s a rich Italian ciambella (bundt cake) infused with the classic spices that characterize baked good this time of the year, and is sure to be a hit amongst humans and elves alike…

INGREDIENTS

5 eggs

1+1/4 cup of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of thick Greek Yogurt

70 ml of olive oil or grape seed oil

1+1/2 cup of self raising flour (or all purpose flour mixed with 1 tablespoon of baking powder)

3/4 almond meal (ground almonds)

1/4 cup of milk

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon of allspice

1 teaspoon of mace

1-1/2 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons of Frangelico or Marsala Wine

METHOD

Preheat your oven to 170 C/340 F and grease a flour a bundt tin.

Beat the eggs with sugar until pale and fluffy. Add oil and yogurt and mix well. Add flour, almond meal, spices and milk and mix to combine. Divide the batter into two bowls. Mix one with the cocoa and Frangelico (or Marsala).

Pour the pale batter in the tin, then pour in the cocoa one and use a chopstick to swirl it though. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until  skewer comes out clean if inserted into the centre of the cake. Cool in the tin completely before turning out.

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Merry Christmas!

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Ciambellone della Nonna (Nonna’s Marble cake with Oil and Yogurt)

Those of you who have travelled to Italy know how much we favour a sweet breakfast. Cafes are crowded with Italians standing by the counter dipping a pastry into their morning coffee before they set off to work. Admittedly, this is not the healthiest way to start the day and it it possibly one of very few things Italian get wrong about food. These days I have become an advocate of oatmeal  and home-made muesli, however I do like to indulge on weekends and allow myself and my family the undeniable pleasures of white starch and refined sugar! There is hardly anything I crave more on a Saturday morning than diving a freshly baked, large slice of Ciambellone into a coffee artfully prepared by Richard. I feel no guilt, it is part of my DNA, it is my legacy. I have to oblige, at least one a week. So I say, if you  truly want to be Italian, get yourself a cake and practise an infallible dunking motion.
Any tea-cake or cookie will do, but my loyalty lies with this very cake my Mamma used to make for us on Sundays.

INGREDIENTS:

3 eggs

200 gr (1 cup) of caster sugar

250 gr (2 and 1/3 cups) of self-raising flour

2 tablespoons of corn starch

60 ml (1/4 cup) of grape seed oil (or lightly scented olive oil)

125 gr (1/2 cup) of Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

How To

1. Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and creamy.

2. Add the oil , Greek youghurt and the vanilla

3. Gently fold in the flour and the corn starch, well sifted. Mix until the batter is combined.

4. Pour 2/3 of the mix into a ring-cake tin (I used a silicon one so I didn’t have to grease it.).

5. Add 3 tablespoons of bitter cocoa and a good splash of Galliano* to the remaining cake batter and mix until smooth.

6. Dollop the cocoa mix on top of the vanilla mix and , using a fork or a chopstick, swirl the two batters together.

7. Bake in a preheated 170 C (340 F) oven for about 35/45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its tin for about one hour before serving.

Make yourself a good coffee, and get stuck in….

* Galliano is an Italian vanilla-scented liquor. You can omit or substitute with rum.

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