Listen to this: My editor at Bazaar took me out to lunch before the holidays and congratulated me for eating the bread out of the bread basket that was placed on the table while we waited for our meal. (The chewy, delicious bread, I might add, though I would have eaten it even if it hadn't been good, because I am a human and it was lunchtime and I was hungry.)
She ate the bread, too, mind. It's just that she's the only person she knows - besides me now, I guess - who still actually eats bread. And pasta. And springs for two courses on a business lunch. Sigh.
You all know I like a good New Year's resolution as much as the next person. I'm all about fresh starts and good intentions, I really am. Why, just the other day I ordered a ginger-apple-carrot juice with breakfast myself! But when congratulations are offered on eating a piece of bread, for the love of Pete, I feel like this whole cleanse/no-carb/juice/detox mania has officially reached crazy-making levels. (Exhibit A: Elevating Adaptogenic Latte. What?) And while I'm at it: can we once and for all get rid of the term "clean eating"? It makes my head hurt.
So, in light of all of this, I've decided to post a second recipe for cake in one week. I feel like it's my civic duty or something.
Without further ado: Ciambellone! (chahm-bell-ohn-eh) Also known as the only cake my mother knows how to make. (More or less.)
Ciambellone is a sunny, simple tube cake made with yogurt and lemon peel. It's tender and fragrant, has a good, sensible crumb, lasts for a few days on the kitchen counter, is not-too-sweet, easy to make, and very nice for breakfast (with a glass of green juice or without). It's also good at teatime and as a snack for little children. In other words, it's a perfect everyday cake.
(Other perfect everyday cakes: Catherine Newman's Donut Cake, Deborah Madison's Poppyseed Cake and Alice Medrich's Kamut Pound Cake, all of which I adore passionately and do not make nearly enough. I blame that thing I'm working on. On my to-make-soon list, though, is Molly's whole-wheat riff on an Edna Lewis cake, which looks right up my alley. Consider it my New Year's resolution!)
I suspect you will be relieved to know that ciambellone does not require confectioners' sugar on top or an icing of any kind or new-fangled additions to the batter. It is simplicity itself, wholesomeness incarnate. But most of all, it's just a happy-making little thing. Which makes it just right for gray, old January. Or any other month out of the year.
Three cheers for cake!
POSTSCRIPT: In the most thrilling news ever (to me, obvs), precisely 9 years, 5 months and 1 week after I started this blog, I can finally offer you a printable recipe! I apologize deeply for it having taken so long. Now, when you get to the bottom of the recipe, you'll see a little Print this recipe link. Click on that and you'll get the recipe in PDF form. Which means that when you print, all you'll get is the recipe itself. No post, no pictures and no pesky comments. Hooray! This feature is - for now - only available on recipes starting from today.
Makes one 9-inch tube cake
Note: The original recipe calls for 1/2 packet of Pane degli Angeli, which is Italian vanilla-flavored baking powder. If you have access to that, use it - it's lovely - and leave out the vanilla extract and baking powder below. If you don't have access to Pane degli Angeli, follow the recipe below.
3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon (150 grams) sugar
2 large eggs
3.5 ounces/7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (125 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated peel of 1/2 organic lemon
1 2/3 cup (200 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1. Heat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Butter a tube pan.
2. Place the sugar, eggs, melted butter, yogurt, vanilla extract, and grated lemon peel in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Then slowly beat in the flour. Finally, beat in the baking powder. Scrape the batter immediately into the prepared cake pan, even the top and bake for 30 minutes, until a rich golden-brown.
3. Let the cake cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn the pan upside-down and unmold the cake. Let cool completely before serving. Loosely covered with plastic wrap, the cake will keep at room temperature for 3 days.