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Wine, Grape & Fig Ciambellone Roll Cake

As we prepare for the festive season, it’s the time of the year to treat yourself, and this week’s recipe does just that whilst offering a hearty helping of home baking. This recipe is taken from rustic foodie blog Horts Cuisine, and is perfect to use a variety of fillings and flavours which can easily be changed to suit your mood, ranging from cinnamon and apples, to pear, chocolate and even a selection of winter berries.

Taking inspiration from a classic 1970’s recipe, this cake is fragrant and dairy free whilst the recipe uses a grapes and fig filling for a sweet authentic twist. Finished with a dollop of yoghurt or even ice cream, the roll cake is a satisfying option to impress at any dinner parties, or to even enjoy as dessert on a cool winter evening.

Fits a 10 inch ring cake pan

Ingredients

500g (about 2 cups) Red grapes (preferably small grapes – concord, muscadine, or seedless)

500g (about 9-10) figs

A couple tablespoons fig jam

If using raw fruit: a tbsp flour

If cooking the fruit: 1 tbsp sugar and the juice from a lemon

400g (3 cups + 1 tbsp) Flour (preferably a mix of good quality flour and spelt flour)

3 eggs*

150g (3/4 cup) Muscovado sugar, plus extra for topping

15g (3 tsp) baking powder

70ml (a scant ⅓ cup) Vegetable oil

70-100ml (a generous ⅓ cup) White wine

Zest from one lemon

2 tsp vanilla extract

* Those of you who are accustomed to vegan baking might be familiar with the ‘flax egg’ trick. Mixing up ground flax with water will produce a thick gel that can be used in place of eggs as a binding agent. Eggs here do contribute to the flavour though, so if you decide to try this with flax eggs, add a little extra flavouring – a little more sugar, vanilla or even a dash of cinnamon.

Instructions

Prepare the fruit: IF USING RAW FRUIT: If the fruit you are using is sweet and ripe, I suggest you use it raw. Peel the figs, and, if the grapes have seeds, it might be worth de-seeding them. Toss it with a tablespoon of flour before adding it to the dough (see below).

IF COOKING THE FRUIT: If the fruit you’re using is not naturally very sweet, you might want to cook it to concentrate the flavor and avoid bland bits in your cake. Add the peeled figs and de-seeded grapes to a pan, add the sugar and lemon, and cook on medium until the fruit turn into a compote, about 20-30 minutes. The grapes will release a lot of water at first, then it will reduce down to a jam-like consistency. Stir the fruit every now and then to avoid it sticking to the pan, and stir it quite often once it starts to thicken. Leave it to cool, as it will thicken more as it cools down.

Make the cake: In a processor, or in a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the dough (yes, it’s that easy). Mix until the dough comes together. Only add 70ml of the wine at first, and see how the dough behaves. It should be quite sticky, but manageable. It will look a little looser than it should, but the softer it is, the better it will turn out once it’s baked.

Preheat the oven to 180 Cº / 355 Fº.

Heavily flour your workplace, and scrape the dough onto it. Dust it with more flour, and roll it out into a rectangle(ish). Spread the fig jam and the flour-coated fruit evenly, leaving a 1 inch space on one of the borders. Roll the dough as delicately as possible, and seal the edge. For arranging it into the pan, it might help to cut the roll in half, and re-join the edges once you transferred it. Sprinkle the top with some extra dark sugar, and bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake has puffed up and is golden brown on top. Let cool completely (this is very important!) before unmolding.

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