Ciambella Romagnola - An Easy Italian Ring Cake

Lemon zest on plate
Cheryl Tan / EyeEm/Getty Images
    60 mins
Ratings

Barbara Lucchi and her husband Riccardo Menghi run the Vëcia Cantêna d'La Prè restaurant and wine bar in Predappio Alta, a pretty hilltop town in the mountains southwest of Forlì, a city in the central Emilia-Romagna region.

Her Ciambella Romagnola, the traditional cake of the region, is quite easy to make. It's wonderful for breakfast, dipped into warm milk, cappuccino, or a caffè latte. It's also nice at the end of a meal, either with a glass of dessert wine or drizzled with zabaione, a fruit sauce, or a simple lemon glaze.

Her one word of warning: Don't scale the recipe. It works perfectly as-is.

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (400 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour (she uses Italian grade 00), plus additional flour for dusting the cake pan
  • 1 cup (250 grams) unsalted butter, melted (over low heat on a stovetop or in the microwave on low) and cooled, plus additional for greasing the cake pan
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (avoid the bitter white pith when zesting)
  • About 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder (or two 16-gram packets of lievito chimico, the Italian equivalent of baking powder)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • One 10-inch (26-cm) ring-cake mold
  • 1 cup pearl sugar/coarse sugar/decorator's sugar (granella di zucchero) for decorating the cake

How to Make It

  1. Preheat your oven to 360 F (180 C) with the rack in the lower position.
  2. Butter the ring mold; be thorough, and then flour it, tapping it upside down to remove excess flour.
  3. Put the granulated sugar in a deep mixing bowl and crack the eggs into it. Beat with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer set to low/medium for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is a creamy yellow. 
  4. Add about a third of the flour to the egg-and-sugar mixture, and beat the batter for about a minute. Add another third of the flour and beat for 1 more minute.
  1. Add the melted butter and beat for another 30-40 seconds.
  2. Next, add the lemon zest.
  3. Beat in half of the milk, and half of the remaining flour. Then beat in the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour.
  4. Add the baking powder and beat it in. The batter will be quite creamy. (You can add another tablespoon of milk at this point if the batter seems too dry.)
  5. Pour the batter into the pan, using a rubber spatula. Give the filled pan a couple of quick shakes, and tap it once or twice against your countertop to level the batter and break any large air bubbles.
  6. Sprinkle the coarse pearl sugar over the top of the cake. 
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

[Edited by Danette St. Onge on 1/30/2016]