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Northern Michigan’s Mario Batali Shares His Recipe for Ciambella with Summer Berry Compote

A ciambella is a simple ring-shaped bread made of egg, shortening and sugar. Ciambelle were for a long time a symbol of luxury in Italian culture; a fancy bread pictured next to royalty and aristocracy in Renaissance painting. Today, ciambelle are often served as an afternoon snack at a bar or caffe. They can be dressed with glazes, syrups, or, in this case, berry compote. In this recipe, I incorporate berries abundant in this area, but you can easily substitute whatever berries are available at your farmers market. With the listed ingredients, this ciambella makes the perfect late-summer dessert in this fertile area that I’ve come to love—Mario Batali

Ingredients

1 pint blueberries

1 pint blackberries

1 pint raspberries

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large egg

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup cold milk

serves 8

Preparation

In a large saucepan, combine the berries, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Place over medium heat and heat just to the boiling point, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a cookie sheet.

Combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, flour and the baking powder in a food processor and pulse quickly to blend. Add the cold butter and pulse quickly until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg, almond extract, and milk until smooth. With the food processor running, add the liquid all at once and blend 10 to 15 seconds, until the dough just forms a ball.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured cutting board and shape into a log about 14 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Form the log into a ring in the center of the cookie sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove, transfer to a rack, and cool to room temperature.

Cut the cake into slices about 1 inch thick, top with 2 tablespoons of berry compote, and serve.