This is my day-glo tribute to the baking of Italy. Isn’t it funny how many of us walk around with a deep and romantic love for Italy in our hearts? Even, maybe even especially, those of us who have never been there, and have no real connection or ties to Italia at all. There is just something about this mediterranean wonderland, that makes us all feel that la dolce vita is at our fingertips – if only we could get on a plane and go. I love, and have always loved, everything about Italy. The food speaks for itself, but perhaps more wonderous than anything is the fact that the Italian diet is fantastically healthy. So they eat all this unctuous, delicious food, and stay at the peak of health. In my dream-Italy there are scores of gorgeous men wandering around, the women are beautiful and the clothes are beyond compare. I love the fiery passion that seems to be intrinsic in every Italian I’ve ever met, a total willingness to defend their opinion to the death, and with more words than I have conjured in a lifetime. Their exuberant hand gestures are a language unto themselves, and they speak with lyrical grace. Italians, man. I might be a little jealous. The Italy I love the most is the Italy of classic retro movies, like La Dolce Vita and the Italian Job. I love the hair, the mini-dresses, the Sophia Loren of it all. Sophia Loren is like the physical embodiment of everything about Italy that I love. She even coined one of my most favourite quotes of all time; in reference to her incredible figure, she said, “Everything you see here, I owe to spaghetti.” Now that is a woman after my own heart. And it’s in that spirit that I offer up this beautifully bright Italian-style cake, fragrant with oranges and vanilla, and perfect with a deep dark espresso. This is a prefect example of the kind of Italian baking that I can really get behind. The cake has that soft, almost pudding-ish texture that I think is the hallmark of Italian snacking cakes. I remember when I was in Rome, this kind of thing was often on offer at the breakfast bar, along with a selection of other sweet breads and pastries. This really would be a perfect breakfast on a sun-drenched terrace overloooking the Mediterranean Sea. The other really Italian thing about this cake is the use of oranges, and particularly orange rind. As with many cakes from the region, orange rind is a big feature of a lot of baking, because they are so good at growing them there! Once the simple batter is stirred together, the whole thing is drenched in a cheat’s glaze (I’m the cheat) of orange juice and marmalade simply boiled up and liberally poured over the top. The runny glaze adds a characteristic shine to the outside of the cake, positively lighting it up from within, and also slightly soaks into the crumb of the cake, keeping it tender and moist for a few extra days. I strongly suggest that you find some winter sun (if you are in the southern hemisphere) or perhaps watch the summer sun rising (if you’re in the north) and don your biggest brand-name Italian sunglasses, along with a white summer dress and a big hat. Pour yourself a tiny glass of devilishly strong espresso, and enjoy a few slices of this aromatic cake. If it were me, I would probably exhaust my Italian phrase book while I’m at it too. I don’t know many words, but a Roman waiter told me my Italian was molto bene when I was there, and he wouldn’t lie to me, now would he?
Marmalade Yoghurt Cake
adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Ciambella/Yoghurt Pot Cake in Nigellissima 3 eggs
250g caster sugar
150ml vegetable oil
160g plain flour
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup marmalade
Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease a 22cm bundt tin, or similar sized cake tin. Seperate the eggs, whites and yolks in two seperate, medium sized bowls. Add a pinch of salt to the whites, and whisk to stiff peaks and set aside – I did this by hand, in the spirit of old-fashioned Itay, and it’s really not hard. In the bowl with the yolks, add the yoghurt and sugar, and whisk until slightly lighter and pale. Pour in the oil and whisk until emulsified. Add the orange zest, and vanilla bean paste and whisk in. Switch to a spatula, and stir in the flour and cornflour, until well combined. Finally, add the stiffly whisked egg whites to this mixture, and gently fold them in. Pour the mixture into your greased tin, and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until springing back when touched. Take the cake out of the oven, and leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, before turning it out to cool completely. Once the cake is basically cold, combine the orange juice and marmalade in a small pan and bring to the boil. Saturate the cake with this mixture, and then dig in!
Hell yeah. Jams/marmalades should be in way more cakes in my opinion. And this looks so sunshiney and fresh!
Totally agree! MOre jams and jellies!
Wow, that looks delicious! It’s hard to go wrong with a good bunt cake!
Ohmygosh! So moist and delicious!! Love the use of yogurt in this recipe :)
My favorite cake is an Italian bundt cake drenched in lemonade. It’s spectacular. But after making about 10 of them in a row, I think my family would really appreciate this one. Plus, my boys have been asking for oranges, and it is so not orange season in NYC… orange marmalade on the other hand is very available:)
I know what you mean–I have hardcore Italy love! I blame all the lush Italian movies, and also Eat Pray Love, and also gelato. Mmmm gelato. I also love that Sophia Loren quote–but in my case, it’d be “Everything you see I owe to cake.” Obviously I need some of this cake to help my girlish figure!
Oh god, the gelato! Mi amore!
Looks absolutely delicious. I am about to start making cumquat jam today and thinking about ways to use it, might need to stray off my recipe a little to try this.
You know, I have never had a cumquat? I’d love to try that!
I dream about moving to Italy one day but in the meantime, I’ll eat this cake and pretend.
Me too, me too.
I love the look of this glaze – seriously. Have heard plenty about yoghurt cakes and how light and delicate they are. I’ve yet to try it myself. But this recipe makes me wonder why I haven’t!
Go for it! It’s so easy, you’ll love it.
I adore Italy too! I was fortunate enough to visit Rome recently and I fell in love with it. This is a beautiful cake :D
My Nonni used to make something very similar to this–your version looks just delicious!
this is so pretty!!!
This beautiful post has me pining double time –– for the cake *and* Italy. At least one of the two is pretty well within my reach. Your blend of citrus and what is clearly a delicate, moist cake crumb has me absolutely swooning.
Thanks Elizabeth. When I win the lottery, I will take us all on a group trip to Italy.
Molto bene! I wanna go bake this right now, gosh I love marmalade! I loved watching Nigella make the yoghurt pot cake on Nigellissima, I was first introduced to yog pot cake in NZ, soon won me over. Italy has to be one of the yummiest places I’ve ever been.
Me too! Wish I was there now!