And what is a bundt after all? An American creation of the 50s referring not to a cake in particular, but to a shape of cake tin...admittedly with a hole in the middle, which came strongly into fashion thanks to a very successful publicity campaign! Well, given that in Italy when we want to say that 'things can't be expected to turn out right every time' we use the proverb 'non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco' (literally translating as "not all ciambelle come out with a hole"), I believe that the holey cake/sponge predates the creation of the trade name bundt.
It is interesting to notice that in Italy we use the so called bundt mould with a hole to cook, in a bain mairie, puddings like crème caramel, budino or blancmange after coating the walls with caramel, which should ensure easy un-moulding. On the other hand, a ciambella is baked in a traditional round cake tin, with a glass in the middle (that's me at least) to provide the hole, or a specially made release bottom with a tube in the middle. What I like best about this, is the fact that the still soft ciambella batter at the bottom of the cake tin breaks through the already hardened top crust while baking, like lava out of a volcano, creating stunning creases and folds, a sight to behold!
Now, the recipe. A friend gave me a lot of blueberries this week and, probably because I promised I would not bake or eat cake during Lent, I immediately thought of cake; I am that predictable! But I could not go so openly against what I had said, or the children would not trust me to stick to anything, so I asked them to make a ciambella based on the Ciambella Bertolini (from the name of a brand of baking powders), an Italian classic of my childhood.
Ciambella with blueberries
400g plain flour (I used 200g white spelt and 200g plain)
250g unrefined caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs, separated, white whisked
1 small tub plain yogurt - 3 heaped tbsp
1tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 heaped cup of blueberries
sugar pearls (I get mine in Italy, but you can find them online here)
Turn the oven on to 180degC. Line a 26cm cake tin with baking parchment to come up the sides too. Grease the outside of a tall tumbler glass with butter, dust it with flour and place it in the centre of the lined tin (if you have a cake tin suitable for making cakes with holes just tease and dust that).
In a pan melt the butter on low heat, making sure it does not start to boil and set aside to slightly cool. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they reach stiff peaks and set aside. In a large bowl sift all the dry ingredients, including the baking powder, then add the liquid ones in a hole in the centre. Mix with a wooden spoon until they are all well amalgamated, adding just enough milk to form a firm batter. Using a spatula, incorporate, as lightly as possible, the egg whites, trying not to break all the air bubbles. Lastly quickly fold in the blueberries and spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Sprinkle with sugar lumps.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 55' to 1 hour, until a skewer comes out completely clean. leave in the oven with the door ajar for another 5 minutes, then take out. Un-mould once cold, sliding the glass off the centre first.
Do not try to resist the temptation of dunking in milk...it is quite acceptable, actually, ciambella is just made for that!