Requires: 24cm round cake pan, electric mixer (or hand beater)
Preheat oven to 180°C conventional oven (400° Fahrenheit/Gas 6). Grease a 24cm round cake pan by lightly buttering the base and sides with margarine or butter. Line the base with baking paper, then lightly butter over the baking paper. Add a heaped tablespoon of 00 flour, then turn and shake the tin to coat the butter in flour on the base and sides of the cake pan.
Place the almonds in a food processor and process briefly. The mixture should have a combination of roughly chopped and finely chopped almonds.
Using an electric mixer or hand beater, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. With the mixer (or hand beater) running, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour, one tablespoon at a time. You want to see air bubbles rise to the surface of the cake mixture before adding additional tablespoons of flour. Stir in the lemon juice. Then stir in the margarine (or butter) until well combined. Stir the chopped almonds and sifted baking powder and almond essence into the cake mixture.
Note: 00 is a powder-fine Italian type of flour. It is made from soft wheat varieties, and is frequently used in Italian desserts and pastas. 00 flour is available in most supermarkets, Italian food stores and gourmet delicatessens.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 mins or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Allow the ciambella (cake) to cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile to make the Almond syrup, combine the water, Amaretto Liqueur and sugar in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Brush or spoon the Almond syrup over the ciambella.
Combine the icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar), milk and vanilla essence in a small saucepan over low heat and continuously stir for a few minutes until well combined. Spread the icing over the almond ciambella and decorate with almonds on top. Set aside for 20 minutes to set before serving – buon appetito.