Ciambella Romagnola is the classic homemade cake made in all Romagna: from Imola to the sand of the Rimini beaches.
But be careful, it’s easy to say that every place, every Italian region has its own Ciambella recipe. Or at least in part, it is true, but the real Ciambella, that rustic cake, with a dry consistency, just sweet, born to be dipped in sweet wine or Sangiovese is only made in Romagna. In Modena, they have Bensone, which is very similar. And in Piacenza, they make Buslan, slightly softer, different as cake concept, also because of the ingredients. In Romagna this cake is called Brazadela, remember the name next time you’ll come for the holidays.
No, Ciambella Romagnola is unique, the one made with just a few ingredients, almost a kind of sweet bread. Among the ingredients, we can find flour, lard, eggs, vanilla, lemon peel, milk and a pinch of salt. Nobody uses lard anymore, so you can replace it with butter: no one gets offended.
But the important thing is that the Romagna Ciambella must be simple, not whipped, do not make it soft, it is a super simple dessert to be dipped in wine or at most to use as a base to make Zuppa Inglese, another great recipe from Romagna.
Ingredients and doses for making the perfect Ciambella Romagnola
- 500 grams of flour
- 180 grams of sugar
- 170 grams of butter or lard, if you’re feeling hipster
- 3 eggs
- 1 untreated organic lemon
- 1 glass of milk
- 8 grams of vanilla powder
- 3 grams of salt
- 18 grams of baking powder
- 1 egg and a dash of milk to brush
- sugar or granulated sugar to decorate
How to make Ciambella Romagnola
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the grated lemon peel, yeast, sugar, vanilla, salt and mix carefully to mix all the dry ingredients.
Put the flour on a pastry board, dig a hole in the middle and put the eggs and the softened butter, cut into small pieces.
Begin to mix slowly, mixing the flour little by little. The trick to making a good Ciambella cake is to not put in too much milk. If you follow these doses everything will be fine, however, it is always better to add the milk a little at a time, to avoid having to add more flour afterward.
Work the ingredients with energy until the dough is firm, elastic, and not too moist. A planetary mixer is very useful in these cases, it will give strength to the dough and you will halve your working time. Mix by hand for 5-6 minutes, with the planetary mixer it takes 3 minutes.
Now give the loaf shape to the cake, make some cuts perpendicular with a blade to let the air out during cooking. Brush with 1 beaten egg with a dash of milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Put the donut on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, then bake in the oven at 180 degrees and cook for 35-40 minutes. Beware of the oven: if it is ventilated, lower the temperature or you will burn the cake. If you have a very powerful oven, lower and cook 5 minutes longer.
Take the Ciambella cake out of the oven, let it cool and then you can serve it with custard, or instead of ladyfingers in the Zuppa Inglese.
What wine to pair with Romagna Ciambella?
The two classic combinations are the sparkling sweet Albana and Sangiovese. It might seem strange to combine a dry wine with a dessert, but it has been used for centuries. Ciambella Romagnola is not too sweet a dessert, so it also goes well with a fruity and simple wine. Do not open an aged wine. Also Recioto, Port wine and Whisky are excellent companions, so let’s uncork some bottles!