Ciambella Romagnola | Traditional Italian Rustic Cake

Ciambella Romagnola is a homemade rustic cake with an unexpected shape and texture.

In fact the special feature of this cake is precisely its shape. Although the Ciambella Romagnola is not circular with a hole in the center, it’s still called “Ciambella.”

Another peculiarity is its texture. Unlike the classic soft bundt cake, the Ciambella Romagnola is an almost crispy cake on the outside and firm on the inside. Cut into slices, in fact, it’s delicious when dipped. The Ciambella Romagnola resembles a loaf of bread or a large cookie.

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Tasty and healthy, it’s perfect for breakfast or as a dessert, dipped in red wine, as is the local Italian tradition.

Ciambella Romagnola is also called Bensone (in Modena) or Brazadela (in Bologna) or Ciambellone (in northern Marche).

The dough is similar to Pasta Frolla in ingredients but different in method of preparation. It’s a simple, sweet-scented dessert, like all the classic Italian grandmothers’ recipes.

Now try the recipe for Ciambella Romagnola!

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Ciambella Romagnola Recipe

  • Prep Time: 15 Min
  • Cook Time: 40 Min
  • Servings: 8 – 10

Ciambella Romagnola Ingredients

  • 2 whole medium eggs
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) of granulated sugar
  • 300 g (3 cups) of all purpose flour
  • 80 g (1/3 cup) of unsalted butter
  • lemon zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 8 g (1/2 tablespoon) of baking powder
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of aromatic liqueur such as Limoncello
  • 2 tablespoons of milk to brush the surface
  • 2 tablespoons of Zucchero Granella to decorate

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Kitchen Tools and Equipment

The dough for the Ciambella Romagnola is made by hand. Therefore, you need some tools, very common in the kitchen but indispensable. Let’s see which ones:

Two bowls: one for the eggs and sugar and the other for the powders (flour, baking powder…).

A small double boiler to melt the butter.

A whisk to beat the eggs with the sugar.

A sieve for the flour.

A spatula to mix all the ingredients.

A pastry board where to finish kneading and form the loaf.

Finally, a grater for the lemon zest and a kitchen brush for spreading milk on the surface of the cake before baking.

Directions

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Step 1) – To make the Ciambella Romagnola, melt the butter in a double boiler and set aside to cool. Then grate the zest from 1 lemon and set aside as well.

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Step 2) – Meanwhile, bring together the sugar and eggs in a bowl. Work them with a hand whisk to make a puffy, foamy mixture.

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Step 3) – Then add the cooled melted butter and whisk again. Flavor with the lemon zest. Finally add the aromatic liqueur (we chose Limoncello). Mix all the ingredients well with the whisk.

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Step 4) – In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Then gradually add them to the egg and butter mixture. While adding the flour, sift it and mix with a spatula until all of it is incorporated.

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Step 6) – Once you have a soft but moldable dough, transfer it to a lightly floured pastry board. Shape it into a sort of elongated loaf.

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Step 7) – Arrange the loaf on a baking pan lined with baking paper. Brush it with milk and sprinkle it with Granella di Zucchero and a little granulated sugar.

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Step 8) – Bake in a preheated ventilated oven at 180°C (356°F) for about 40 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking. The cake is ready when golden brown and dry.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving your Ciambella Romagnola!

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Storage

Ciambella Romagnola can be stored under a glass bell or sealed in a tin box for up to 10 days. 

If you wish, you can cut it into slices and freeze them in the freezer. Simply return them to the oven for about 5 minutes to enjoy the cake as if it were freshly made.

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How to Flavor Ciambella Romagnola.

Traditionally, the most popular flavoring used to make Ciambella Romagnola is lemon zest.

Since it’s necessary to make the zest, use an organic lemon, so not chemically treated. Remove the zest with a grater. Be careful not to remove the white part of the fruit, as it’s bitter and therefore would compromise the final result.

If you prefer, you can also flavor the cake with the seeds of the vanilla bean.

Besides this, the other ingredient that flavors this cake is an aromatic liqueur. You can choose the liqueur of your choice. Fortified wines such as Vinsanto or Marsala are usually used. Or liqueurs such as Limoncello or anise liqueur.

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How to Serve Ciambella Romagnola

You can enjoy your cake, cut into slices, in the morning as breakfast with a cappuccino or coffee.

Ciambella Romagnola is also perfect for an afternoon break with tea or a glass of milk.

But the Romagna tradition is to enjoy the Ciambella soaked in red wine as a dessert. This ancient tradition is still widespread in the trattorias of Romagna villages.

The most suitable wines are those typical of Emilia-Romagna, such as Sangiovese and Lambrusco.

Another use of Ciambella romagnola, typical of this area, is to use soaked slices of Ciambella as a base for spoon desserts. In Romagna people often use Ciambella, instead of Pan di Spagna or Savoiardi. Better if stale. For example, to prepare Zuppa Inglese or Zuccotto, other typical desserts of central Italy.

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Ciambella Romagnola: Variants

The recipe we have shown you is the classic and basic version of Ciambella Romagnola.

Of course, you can enrich it in various ways and according to your taste. For example, you can fill it with jam or chocolate cream. Or add a spoonful of yummy chocolate chips to the dough.

In Romagna tradition another popular version is the Ciambella Romagnola with the addition of raisins.

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