Well, it seems that I should listen to my wonderful husband more. When we first tasted this cake, still warm from the oven, I was not a huge fan of it. It's called Ciambelle and is a traditional dessert from Le Marche. It's taste and consistency land somewhere in between bread and cake. I was about to write it off when Ryan said, "You know, I think this would be better along with a cup of coffee or something. I picture myself eating this with a cup of hot chocolate." BRILLIANT! Of COURSE this would be better with coffee or hot chocolate. Drinking coffee after dinner is a common practice in Italy, and so having a dessert that hinges (at least in my mind) on a good cup of espresso really shouldn't be that surprising. The nice thing is that using that same logic, this also makes a great breakfast!
To give this dessert a little more sweetness, I added some confectioner's sugar to each piece. You could also make an icing for it by taking 1/2 cup water and adding confectioner's sugar until it has a thick consistency. The Ciambelle that I made has some cocoa powder as flavoring, but I've also seen recipes that use anise or orange flavoring as well. If you're looking for something that is representative of Le Marche, then anise flavoring would be a good bet (if you like licorice flavor, which I don't). Regardless of my opinion on it though, anise is a great regional asset for Le Marche. A great example is Anisetta Meletti, a liquor distilled from aniseed that is produced in Ascoli Piceno. So, putting anise flavoring in the cake or even into the icing would give the dessert that extra Ascoli umph! God, I sound like a bad cheerleader. Let's just move on to the recipe:
Adapted from La Tavola Marche
6 tablespoons butter plus extra for greasing
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus a little more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
confectioners sugar for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using butter, grease a ring mold and dust with flour. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Add the eggs, 6 tablespoons melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Mix until smooth.
- Pour into the ring mold and smooth out. The mixture will be closer to a dough than a cake batter, so just push it into the mold and smooth it out.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Ryan's rating of Ciambelle - 2.5. A little disappointing, but I think that would go up if he tried it with hot chocolate like he suggested!