Umbria is famous for truffles, mountains and art. We'd like to think this meringue-topped cake from Perugia combines at least the art and the mountains. It's traditionally baked by the women of the region for their future husbands. Most recipes call for a scarlet-coloured liqueur called Alchermes to give the cake mixture its tint; it's hard to find in Australia, so we've used pomegranate liqueur instead. Ciaramicola is best eaten on the day it's made, and is particularly good served warm. Go wild with the sprinkles.
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 60 ml pomegranate liqueur (see note)
- 6 drops rose pink colouring (optional)
- Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 230 gm plain flour, sifted
- 150 gm caster sugar
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 185 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
- To decorate: hundreds-and-thousands
- 180 gm caster sugar
- 3 eggwhites
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1Preheat oven to 170C. Combine eggs, liqueur, colouring and vanilla in a bowl. Mix dry ingredients and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer on low speed, add butter and half the egg mixture, mix until moistened, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture in 2 batches, beating well after each addition. Transfer to a 1.5-litre buttered and flour-dusted bundt tin, tap tin on bench to level mixture, bake until cake is golden and a skewer withdraws clean (25-35 minutes; see note). Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack.
- 2For Italian meringue, stir sugar and 200ml water in a small saucepan over high heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove sugar crystals. Cook until syrup reaches 115C on a sugar thermometer (soft ball stage; 8-12 minutes). Whisk eggwhite with cream of tartar in an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Meanwhile, bring sugar syrup to 121C (hard ball stage). Increase mixer speed to high and gradually pour syrup into meringue (be careful as hot syrup may spatter). Beat at medium speed until glossy and cooled to room temperature (10-15 minutes). Spoon immediately over cake and spread into peaks with a palette knife. Scatter with hundreds-and-thousands and serve.
Pomegranate liqueur is available from select liquor shops; you can substitute pomegranate juice. The cake may crack on top as it cooks, but this doesn't matter because the top becomes the base.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of