This is a gorgeously spiced cake, flavoured with an aromatic mixture of vanilla, red wine, orange, lemon, cinnamon and cloves. My aunt always makes this cake at Christmastime, but I actually bake it all year round.
Cut open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Add along with the red wine, orange and lemon juice and lemon zest to a saucepan. Add a cinnamon stick and cloves and simmer slowly. Leave the mixture to cool and pass through a sieve.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy with an electric mixer. Stir in eggs. Mix the flour, cinnamon, cloves and baking powder and mix in as well. Slowly add the red wine mixture.
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease a square or round cake tin, pour in the batter and bake in the preheated oven for about 75 minutes.
When the cake tests done, remove it from the tin and cool on a wire cake rack.
Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice and vanilla until very stiff. Then sprinkle in the sugar and cinnamon. Spread it around the cake and pull up small peaks with a spoon.
Brown in the oven on the highest shelf and dust with cinnamon, if desired.