This Traditional Italian Citrus Ring Cake recipe, aka Ciambella, is a ring shaped sponge cake. This Italian breakfast cake is great with lots of fruit or to dunk in your morning coffee. Simple. Classic. Italian.
During my teenage years, I distinctly remember a simple Italian cake my Mom used to make every Sunday morning. She called it the 8 ounce cake, and when I will share the list of ingredients, you will understand why. It is my pleasure to share with you my mom’s recipe for a Traditional Italian Citrus Ring Cake aka Ciambella.
Having fruit for dessert was normal in my childhood. (And as a dietitian and a mom, I tried to make it the norm in my kids’ childhood, too!) But when I reached my teenage years, my Mom began supplementing the fruit with all kinds of wonderful baked goods -especially simple Italian cakes. I guess she had more time to experiment in the kitchen as her kids got older, something I can definitely relate to.
This Traditional Italian Citrus Ring Cake was one of the stars of the baked goods show, especially on Sundays (aka family day). Ciambella was certainly a family favorite, and the fact that it only needs about 10 minutes of prep time definitely helped its claim to fame in my parents’ house!
Ciambella is a type of Italian cake, but the specific form it takes varies wildly by region. It can be a bundt cake, an angel food cake, or a donut; it can be baked, fried or even boiled in water (and then baked); its signature ingredient can be potatoes, aniseed, cinnamon, rose water, etc., etc., etc. The thing that all of these cakes have in common is that they are all ring-shaped. (In spite of this, I did find a loaf version of the recipe!)
The Ciambella that I’m sharing with you today might be called an Italian version of the bundt cake. You’ll notice that the ingredients in this particular recipe are very rustic, and you would most likely have them all on hand on any given day. That, in my opinion, makes this the perfect no-fuss Italian breakfast cake… perfect for dunking in your coffee!
You’ll also notice that eggs are a key ingredient in this recipe, as they are in almost all Italian cake recipes. Food chemistry time: did you know that, in a cake, eggs serve to bind all the other ingredients together? On the topic of eggs… Decades later, when I had kids of my own, my Mom stopped making this Ciambella recipe in favor of an orange chiffon cake that required a whopping 6 eggs!
ORIGINS OF THE RECIPE FOR A TRADITIONAL ITALIAN CITRUS RING CAKE:
As with a lot of the recipes my Mom used to make, I can only assume that it was a recipe made by her Mom. After all, that is how traditions start… and I’m very pleased to keep this tradition going. Recently, I made this Italian cake at a family gathering, and everyone was just in awe over how much it tasted like Mom’s! What a sweet compliment from my supportive family…
…especially because I actually didn’t use her exact recipe 🙂 For the record, my Mom’s recipe required 1 cup each of sugar, oil, and milk (hence the “8 ounce cake” nickname). I reduced the amounts of oil and sugar (and milk) to 3/4 cup… I guess I’ll have to start calling this the “6 ounce Italian cake” instead.
I like to serve this recipe for Traditional Italian Citrus Ring Cake with a simple dusting of confectioner’s sugar and lots of fresh fruit. Sometimes, I’ll serve it with this recipe for Simple Macerated Strawberries. You can also drizzle it with a lemon or orange glaze, to really compliment the flavors within.
Have this Italian cake aka Ciambella with breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea… it’s great as a snack or dessert!
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Ciao for now!
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Traditional Italian Citrus Ring Cake
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup lemon or orange juice freshly squeezed
- 1 sachet vanillin paneangeli*
- Zest of 2 lemons or zest of whole orange
- icing sugar for dusting cake
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175°C) .
- Grease and flour (or use non-stick spray) a 10-inch bundt pan.
- In a medium bowl,sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl (of stand mixer) beat the eggs on high speed for about 3 minutes (eggs will become thick).
- Gradually add the sugar and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce speed and add oil, milk and juice.
- Add dry ingredients, vanillin (or vanilla extract) and zest and beat only until combined.
- Bake in a 350℉ (175°C) oven for 35 minutes or until cake tester comes out dry.
- Cool completely on wire rack.
- Dust with icing sugar before serving.
*Vanillin can be substitued with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.
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