Monday, February 1, 2010

Ciambella, Grandma's Cake Goes Solar

If you read the about me section of this blog you know that I spent my formative years in Italy, where I learned to eat. It wasn't really until I moved back to the U.S. that I taught myself to cook. You'll also know that I am not much of a baker. Most Italians do not do much baking at home. Week night dessert is seldom more than fruit; bread is purchased daily from the local bakery. For special occassions they will purchase pasticcini - incredibly delicious bite sized pasteries - from a pasticceria, one of the few businesses open on Sundays. That said, the unattractive looking thing on the left is a ciambella. Most every Italian mother has a recipe for this simple cake. It's generally served to children for a midday snack or eaten for breakfast with coffee and milk.

The recipe I used is from Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Italian Cooking". I have fond memories being offered slices of ciambella by my friends mothers. Either their recipes were better than Marcella's or I did something wrong. The ingredients are flour, butter, sugar, milk, eggs, lemon peel, and baking powder. The dough had the consistency of pie crust and the finished product is something like a soft biscotti. It's a little too dense for my liking. Marcella does say it's best the day after baking, so I'll give it another chance tomorrow. I guess in a country that has a bread bakery on every corner and at least one pasticceria nearby baking is best left to the pros.

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