You’re probably wondering if I’ve given up on baking, given the long gap between posts. Fear not — it was just a vacation-induced hiatus. This past weekend I baked an Italian olive-oil cake called Ciambella all’Arancia, from Rosetta Costantino’s Southern Italian Desserts (with Jennie Schacht; Ten Speed Press, 2013; p. 126), which was quite well received at work in Monday. I don’t have a full photographic walk-through, but it’s a fairly simple cake to make, so long as you have a large enough mixing bowl. It’s made by the soufflé method, and is supposed to be baked in an Italian pan known, unsurprisingly, as a ciambella pan; Costantino says it can also be made in a ten-inch tube pan (which I used) or a twelve-cup Bundt brand pan.
There are four sources of orange flavor in this cake: freshly squeezed orange juice (two cups or 480 ml) from six Valencia oranges; three tablespoons of freshly grated orange zest (those same six oranges provide more than enough); 65 g of candied orange peel (optional); and two teaspoons orange extract (also optional). The cake itself is made from four large eggs (separated), 395 g of all-purpose flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of kosher salt, 275 g of sugar, and ¾ cup (180 ml) of a light-flavored extra-virgin olive oil. Half a cup (120 ml) of the orange juice and two tablespoons of the sugar are set aside to make a soaking syrup later.
As I mentioned, this cake (like most of the ones I’ve done from this cookbook) is made by the soufflé method. That means that the egg whites are whipped to make a firm, self-supporting foam, and then folded into a batter made from the other ingredients (including all of the fat). The procedure here is to beat the egg yolks, orange zest, and sugar, then use that to emulsify the olive oil, extract, and orange juice. The dry ingredients (previously sifted together) are folded into the wet ingredients, along with the candied orange peel, before folding in the egg whites. The mixture seen here is the batter just prior to folding in the whites; my Pyrex mixing bowl was clearly not large enough, so I had a bit of trouble folding in the egg whites without making a big mess. (Unfortunately the recipe doesn’t give any hint of this — I’ve now noted in my copy that a larger mixing bowl is required!)
After folding in the egg whites, the batter is then poured into a prepared tube pan and baked in a 375°F (190°C) oven for 40 minutes.
This one of the few cake recipes where the “done” condition explicitly indicates that the top of the cake should be cracked. The ciambella cools in the pan until it’s cool enough to handle, and then after depanning is cooled completely, top-side-up, on a wire rack set over a sheet pan.
A soaking syrup is made by stirring the reserved sugar into the remaining orange juice until fully dissolved. Most of the syrup is poured over the top of the ciambella, until it is thoroughly moistened, and a pastry brush is used to apply what remains to the sides of the cake. (This is a necessarily messy process, hence the sheet pan underneath!)
I finished the cake on Sunday night, but waited until Monday morning to cut into it so I could photograph a single slice. You can clearly see how dense, moist, and golden the crumb is, with a few pieces of the candied orange peel exposed — quite lovely.
I put the ciambella on a cake stand for service, then wrapped it up in plastic wrap to carry it into work. It was very well received.
|Serving size: 1/12 of 10″ tube cake|
|Servings per recipe: 12|
|Amount per serving|
|Calories 389||Calories from fat 144|
|% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 16g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||12%|
|Trans Fat 0g|||
|Total Carbohydrate 52g||17%|
|Dietary fiber 1g||3%|