Ciambellone or Ciambella Italian Cake

Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli
Italian Cuisine Expert and Food Blogger
Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli, the mastermind behind Nonna Box, has honed his culinary expertise for decades, inspired by family feasts in Emilia-Romagna. Mentored by his restaurateur nonna, he mastered Italian classics and furthered his skills with professional culinary studies in desserts and gelato making from Mec3. Today, he shares this rich legacy and authentic recipes through Nonna Box.
Expertise: Italian cuisine, Pasta, Pizza, Pastry, Dessert

This is the perfect simple ciambella or ciambellone cake for breakfast or an afternoon tea or coffee break that is so easy to make you will never have an excuse not to bake one. Ciambella is a classic Italian ring-shaped cake made from flour, sugar, eggs and milk, and a few other simple ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard. This Italian breakfast cake is baked in a round bundt pan and the outcome is a moist, tall ciambella cake that tastes delicious. Ciambella is the perfect companion to go along with your morning cup of coffee or tea or for an afternoon break. Happy baking!

ciambella italian cake on a plate sitting on a table napkin.

What is needed to make this Italian cake recipe?

Equipment for making this ciambella recipe:

  • 9 in | 24-cm bundt cake pan, the circular pan that will create a ring shape that can rise high and will a hole in the middle and at least 3 in | 7.5 cm deep
  • 1 large and 1 medium bowl
  • electric hand mixer or stand mixer
  • spatula for scraping the sides of the bowl to get all the batter
  • offset spatula for removing the ciambella cake from the pan
  • cake stand is optional for displaying or serving the ciambella cake

From start to finish the ciambella cake takes about an hour to make, including baking time. It is a very easy recipe

What ingredients does this ciambella cake recipe call for?

ciambella ingredients

Here is a list of the ciambella cake ingredients you will need to have on hand.

  • All-purpose flour (2.4 cups | 300 grams) – be sure to sift the flour mixture before using it so you avoid clumps of flour in your ciambella cake. We recommend using all-purpose flour, the most similar to Italian “00” flour in the original Italian recipe.
  • Seed oil (0.76 cups | 165 grams) (alternatively 165 gr melted butter) – olive oil, vegetable oil or any other mild-flavored oil works great. Some prefer to melt the same amount of butter and use it instead, which gives the ciambella a very rich, buttery taste.
  • Granulated sugar (1.25 cups | 250 grams) – if you prefer a ciambella that is not quite as sweet, you can reduce the sugar this recipe calls for by 50 grams.
  • Eggs (4 medium ) – room temperature eggs that are medium size and fresh.
  • Milk (0.41 cups | 100 grams) – any type of milk will do from full fat to low fat, added at room temperature, or you can substitute with the same amount of water if you do not have milk or are concerned about the nutrition calories.
  • Orange (1) – add the zest of one organic orange peel for a bright, citrus flavor.
  • Lemon (1) – you will also need the lemon zest of one organic lemon rind for this recipe, which gives this cake its unique classic Italian breakfast cake lemon flavor.
  • Vanilla extract (1 tsp) – gives a fragrant touch of vanilla to this delicious cake.
  • Baking powder (1 tablespoon) – be sure to use fresh baking powder as you want this cake to rise as much as possible.
  • Salt (1 pinch) – a little pinch of kosher salt is all you will need.
  • Powdered sugar or sugar decorations (4 – 5 tablespoons or as desired) – to be added to the top once the cake has cooled completely.

How to make this recipe step by step

Prep beforehand. Preheat the oven to 350° F | 180° C. Take your 10 in | 24-cm bundt pan and butter (or olive oil) (photo 1) and flour the bottom and sides (photo 2).

first photo is a bundt pan with 2 cubes of butter inside. second photo is a bundt pan dusted with flour. both photos have a bowl of powdered sugar, prange zest, zester, and a jar of flour around the pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt into a bowl (photo 3) and stir with a whisk (photo 4), and set aside.

first photo is a sifter with flour inside on top of a bowl. other photo is a bowl of flour with a whisk. both photos have a bundt pan, bowl of powdered sugar, jar of flour, orange zest, an orange and a lemon, and a zester around the bowl of flour.

Mix the batter. Place the eggs, sugar, vanilla and orange, and lemon zest into a large bowl with high sides (photo 5) and beat on high with an electric hand mixer until frothy and light (photo 6).

a mixture of eggs, sugar, vanilla and orange and lemon zest in a large glass bowl. mixing of the batter with an electric mixer.

Now drizzle in the oil, still beating with an electric hand mixer on high speed. Alternate between adding the premixed flour mixture/ dry ingredients and the milk into the egg mixture with the other wet ingredients while beating with the hand mixer on low speed until you have added all the ingredients (photos 7 to 10).

first photo is a bowl of batter with flour dumped at the top. next photo is beating the batter with an electric mixer.

In about 30 seconds you should have a smooth, velvety batter (photo 11).

batter with oil on top. batter being mixed with an electric hand mixer.

Pour and bake. Pour the ciambella cake batter into the prepared pan (you can scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed) (photo 12) and sprinkle the pearl sugar over the top (photo 13).

mixed batter in a bowl. batter in a bundt pan.

Bake the sponge cake in the preheated oven on the middle rack for about 45 minutes. After 20-25 minutes check to see if the top is browning too much, if it is, lower the heat to 340°F | 170°C and continue baking.

batter in a bundt pan dusted with powdered sugar on top. baked cake in a bundt pan.

Remove, cool, and top with sugar. The ciambella breakfast cake is ready when the small wooden skewer or toothpick inserted comes out dry and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing from the mold and placing the ciambella onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving (photo 14). You can add powdered sugar to the top of the bundt cake if desired before serving it in individual slices.

baked ciambella italian cake dusted with powdered sugar on a plate

Expert tips for making ciambella

  • Decorating with pearl sugar. If the pearl sugar sinks into the batter or you want to be very sure that the pearl sugar stays on top after you have cooked the cake for 35 minutes or so you can add the pearl sugar to the top and then continue baking.
  • Use fresh baking powder. Using old baking powder can ruin your best intentions for making this high-rising, great recipe for ciambella or other sponge cakes. Check the expiration date and only use it if it is before its expiration and has been stored properly.

Try other Italian cakes:

Variations

  • Poppy seeds. To mix things up a bit, consider adding 1/4 cup poppy seeds at the beginning of the recipe, the rest of the recipe can remain the same.
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice. You can substitute the milk this ciambella recipe calls for with freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice for an even more intense orange or lemon flavor in this delicious recipe.
  • Gluten-free. To make this cake gluten-free, you can use your favorite mild-flavored gluten-free flour that is higher in starches and for every 0.8 cups | 100 grams of flour this recipe calls for, leave out two tablespoons of the gluten-free and substitute with the same amount of gluten-free cornstarch.

FAQs

How should I store ciambella cakes?

You can store the ciambella Italian cake in an airtight container or a cake stand with cover for 2 or 3 days at room temperature.

Can I freeze ciambella?

Yes, ciambella can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. To use it, defrost slowly in the fridge and then leave out at room temperature and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

What’s the difference between a bundt pan and a tube pan?

Tube pans are any pan that has a hollow tube in the center and is round. A bundt pan is a specific type of tube pan that has scalloped sides and is the right type of pan to use for this ciambellone recipe, which is a denser type of breakfast cake that will rise.

ciambella italian cake dusted with powdered sugar on a plate sitting on top of a table mat. a glass of milk, forks, a small bowl and a small sifter with powdered sugar on it surround the plate.

Classic Italian Ciambella Recipe

Ciambella or ciambellone the perfect cake for breakfast or coffee or tea time. This is one of our favorite recipes to make for a morning meeting or afternoon coffee break. The tangy citrus flavor from the orange and lemon zest used in the ciambella make it a typical Italian cake that is sure to be a big hit!
5 from 5 votes
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 493kcal

Ingredients

  • 300 grams (2.4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 165 grams (0.76 cups) seed oil alternatively 165 gr melted butter
  • 250 grams (1.25 cups) granulated sugar
  • 4 (4) medium eggs room temperature
  • 100 grams (0.41 cups) milk room temp (which you can substitute with 100 gr water if you do not have milk)
  • 1 (1) orange zest (grated orange peel)
  • 1 (1) lemon zest (grated lemon peel)
  • 1 tsp (1 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 1 pinch (1 pinch) salt
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons (4 – 5 tablespoons) pearl sugar and/or powdered sugar for decoration

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F | 180° C.
  • Take your 10 in | 24-cm bundt pan and butter (or olive oil) and flour the bottom and sides.
  • Place the eggs (egg whites and yolks), sugar, vanilla and orange and lemon zest into a large bowl with high sides and beat on high with an electric hand mixer until frothy and light.
  • Now drizzle in the oil into the egg and sugar mixture, still beating with an electric hand mixer on high speed.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate large bowl and stir with a whisk.
  • Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the milk into the egg mixture with the other wet ingredients while beating with the hand mixer on low to medium speed until you have added all the ingredients, which should only take 30 seconds or less and the result should be a smooth, velvety batter with soft peaks.
  • Pour the ciambella batter into the prepared bundt pan and sprinkle the pearl sugar over the top.
  • Bake the sponge cake in the preheated oven on the middle rack for about 45 minutes. After 20-25 minutes check to see if the top is browning too much, if it is, lower the heat to 340° F | 170°C and continue baking.
  • The ciambella cake is done baking when the toothpick inserted comes out dry and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing from the mold and placing the ciambella onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving. You can add powdered sugar to the top if desired before serving this delicious cake cut into individual slices.
Serving: 100g | Calories: 493kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 44mg | Potassium: 290mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 179IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 2mg
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