I mentioned this past Sunday that I am planning a trip to Italy this fall, so naturally I am a wee bit obsessed with all things Italian at the moment. I am a big-time planner: I have been spending copious amounts of time searching for the best flights, reading reviews of bed & breakfasts, and (obviously) checking out restaurant menus in preparation for our journey. We are definitely the type of travellers that like to know where we are going to sleep every night in advance. We’re not spontaneous, “let’s just see what happens when we get there” people!
However, I am not one of those people who needs to painstakingly plan out each day from sunrise to sunset. In fact, I rarely wear a watch while I am travelling. Aside from knowing where I’m going to lay my head, I don’t like to restrict myself too much. What about you, reader? Are you an itinerary person, or more of a free-spirited traveller?
It should go without saying that I am very much looking forward to the food in Italy, as I absolutely I love Italian cooking and baking. Today, I’ve taken a recipe for Ciambellone (cham-bell-OH-nay), a traditional Italian coffee cake, and added Amaretto and orange zest to the mixture, making the batter smell (and taste) like a creamsicle. Finally, because I was feeling a bit decadent, I brushed the entire finished cake in a delectable Amaretto simple syrup.
The batter is a cinch to throw together, as you basically blitz everything together in a food processor. Once baked, the finished cake has lovely dense texture, somewhere between a regular cake and a pound cake, and a cheerful golden yellow crust and crumb. The flavours of Amaretto, orange and vanilla mellow out while the cake bakes, and the Amaretto simple syrup lends a sweet, slightly boozy note to the finished product.The end result is not overly sweet, so you could probably get away with frosting it – chocolate or Nutella frosting might be delicious – or finishing it with a simple dusting of powdered sugar.
I prefer it as-is, because slices of this cake are absolutely perfect for dunking into a cup of coffee, which makes me sublimely happy. Other dunking options include tea, hot chocolate, or a cold glass of milk. I’ve also been having a slice with some mixed fruit or berries for breakfast. However you prefer it, buon appetito!
- 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup almond flour
- 1 and ½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup half-and-half or light cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup Amaretto liqueur
- 1 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube or bundt pan and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and process briefly until the butter is incorporated.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, vanilla and almond extracts, 2 tablespoons Amaretto, and orange zest. With the food processor running, pour the liquid mixture through the feed tube and process until everything is well blended and a thick and sticky batter has formed. With a spatula, scoop the batter into the prepared pan and spread it around evenly. Note: It is a very thick, dough-like batter!
- Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, ¼ cup Amaretto and 1 cup water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is smooth.
- Brush the syrup in an even layer over the bottom of the baked cake. Turn the cake out of the pan and brush an even layer of the syrup over the entire surface. Let cool completely on the wire rack. For a more pronounced Amaretto flavour, brush another layer of syrup over the surface.
- Best served the day it's made, but the cake will keep for a day or two tightly wrapped at room temperature.
Source: Adapted from Domenica Marchetti’s Big Night In