This sublime coffee cake, spiked with a little Marsala or rum, is real comfort food. It is even more delicious accompanied by a glass of wine.—Carol Field
1/2 cup raisins
6 tablespoons Marsala or rum
10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon walnuts or blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1. Soak the raisins in the Marsala or rum for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Cream the butter and sugar together well. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, incorporating each one well before adding the next. Mix together the milk, reserved Marsala or rum, and vanilla.
3. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Using a rubber spatula, beat the milk mixture into the butter mixture in three additions alternating with the dry ingredients.
4. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. With the rubber spatula, stir one quarter of them into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest along with the nuts and raisins.
5. Turn the batter into a buttered and lightly floured angel food pan or ring mold, sprinkle the top with the turbinado sugar, and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean.
6. If you prefer to use a 9- X 5-inch loaf pan, bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack, and cool to room temperature.
Ciambella al Anice: Use 1 tablespoon anise seeds instead of the raisins and nuts. Substitute Sambuca for the Marsala or rum, or omit it altogether and increase the milk to 1/2 cup.
Recipe © 2003 Carol Field. All rights reserved.