Yesterday was the first meeting of a cookbook club that I started with my friends from work. As you might imagine, these types of things only happen when you work with essentially all women. Anyhow, our club will try to meet once a month to share a variety of foods and recipes. The host selects the theme which can be something like a style of food, a specific chef, or even a certain cookbook. This month’s theme was Italian.
Since I work until 7 PM, it was going to be a little tricky to cook something that would last throughout the day since I needed to be at CC (cookbook club) by 7:15. I wouldn’t have a place to refrigerate anything large, and even though Meighan (our hostess) volunteered to let me drop off food at her place before work, I didn’t want her to have to pop anything in the oven. This meant I really had one option – baked goods.
After volunteering to make dessert, I set out to find a simple recipe that would have staying power over night. I landed on Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Coooking ciambella recipe. I would compare ciambella to a giant lemon scone shaped in a ring. I served mine with berries.
Now, a seasoned blogger would’ve taken photos of the process from start to finish, but I was so worried about finishing the recipe before bed, I completely forgot. So descriptions will have to do. The photo below resembles my final product almost exactly – the main difference being my ciambella’s excessive bumps and divots.
- 8 Tbsp butter (melted)
- 4 C bleached flour
- 3/4 C granulated sugar
- 3.5 tsp baking powder
- zest from one lemon *I actually zested about 1.5 lemons*
- 1/4 C lukewarm milk *I probably used closer to 1/2 C – reason below*
- 2 eggs
This is the simplified version of instructions.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Put all the dry ingredients into the mixer, mixed.
- Add the rest of the ingredients then thoroughly mix.
- Knead the dough for a couple minutes *This is where I added the extra milk. The dough was SO dry there is no way I could have possibly shaped it into ANYTHING. I panicked and just added what I eyeballed to be another 1/4 cup*
- Shape it into a two inch thick sausage, form a ring with it.
- Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 35 minutes.
- Let cool.
Other bakers say you should wait a day to eat it because it tastes better. I happened to because I made mine the night before our get-together.
The ciambella was surprisingly good given my ultra-low expectations. I don’t know if it was supposed to be so dense and dry, but the flavor was lemony without being tart and it was definitely edible. I served mine with strawberries and blueberries, but next time I would also make a whipped cream or bring cool whip to help a little with the dryness. My experience making this was very stressful, and I had innumerable doubts that it would taste good.
What did I learn from this month’s cookbook club? When baking, don’t try something you can’t cut into or be sure to give it a practice run a little ahead of time if you’re concerned about it’s appearance when serving. Also, I learned that zesting a lemon into something can impart a ton of flavor! It seems like everyone else already knew that.