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Traditional Ciambella of Imola recipe for an Italian breakfast

Ciambella of Imola recipe

On google Italy find more than eleven million recipes dedicated to the doughnut.

In Italy, the word ciambella (donut) indicates a breakfast or merenda cake that is a classic homemade preparation. High, low, soft, fragrant. But never fried.

Traditional ciambella of Imola is a genuine flavor that is also a trip through memories.

Ciambella of Imola recipe

Ciambella: under the same name, there are a lot of recipes.

When I was a child, I had one certainty: that everything kind of ciambella my grandmother baked would be good.

As an adult, I have discovered that ciambelle are often boring-tasting cakes.
Sometimes even has an annoying texture.

In equal measure, I consider annoying chewy and too much crunch ciambelle.
In the first case, probably, it has been a rising problem. On the contrary, when the slice disintegrates into thousands of crumbs at the first bite, the cook probably has used little liquid or fat (both keep firm the cooked dough).

Be careful: do not confuse rightly crunch and several crumbs with the disaster described before.

But how can you recognize a boring ciambella from a great one?

The infinite combinations of flour, sugar, milk, and eggs create similar but each time different ciambelle.
If you were Italian, I would suggest recovering the old family recipe. The best ciambella is the one that has cradled, grown, and educated your palate. Just like grandma or mamma did for you. Otherwise, I hope you will trust this recipe.

Grandma Sara used to make lots of different kinds of donuts.
Soft and with ricotta cheese in the dough. The classic ciambella of Romagna, without a hole in the middle. There were long and round ciambelle. Most of them had a compact dough and did not need a mold.

It belongs to the crumbly ciambelle, the one filled with Nutella (Get the recipe HERE). It was the type I always ate during the summer. Often we bought it at the bakeries in the villages in Romagna where we went on holiday. There is another kind of crumbly ciambella, perfect serving with sweet wine, which my nonna used to make in summer and winter when there were guests.

Ciambella is a simple cake, but beware, the adjective should not be misleading.

Simple does not mean that you combine ingredients in a bowl with little grace and no love. Or that you take a recipe, maybe a good one, remove sugar and butter to make it boring-tasting and the same as the many ciambelle I have unfortunately tasted.

Ciambella of Imola recipe

Ciambella of Imola recipe.

Each time I taste a ciambella without flavor or character, sometimes sugary, sometimes anonymous, my memory goes back to one of my grandmother’s cakes.

I remember her arranging and weighing the ingredients on the kitchen table. Sometimes she mixes the butter with the sugar or whips the egg whites.
And then I see myself waiting for the dirty bowl of sweet and creamy leftover dough to clean. Meanwhile, the cake is in the oven, and, after a short wait, its aroma starts filling the kitchen.

When ready, do not be in a hurry to remove the cake from the mould.

After baking, ciambella must cool. Whether it’s soft or dry, there is a real risk of it breaking.
This recipe has the characteristics that good ciambella should have: fragrant and easy to cut. If you have a lovely memory of childhood ciambella, it has to take you back to your childhood kitchen. All this for just a few euros. The power of (good) cooking.

There is no trace of flavorings in this dough and not even a pinch of salt.

Contrary to what you might think, this recipe does not belong in my family recipe book.

It was, along with others, a gift that the chefs of San Domenico in Imola, Max Mascia, and Valentino Marcattilii made to a modest recipe book written by me and a journalist friend (and yes, even super chefs eat and cook simple doughnuts).

It’s also a tribute to my city, Imola, where it is called ciambella of Imola (once, cooks used lard instead of butter).

Buona cucina, Monica

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Ciambella of Imola recipe

Ciambella of Imola recipe

serves 6 or several breakfasts or merende
List of Ingredients

250g of 00 flour
150g of caster sugar
80g of butter, softened out of the fridge
2 eggs (3 if small)
100 g of milk
10g of baking powder for cake


In a bowl, beat the soft butter with the sugar using an electric whisk.

Add the eggs and mix with the whisk.

Then add the sifted flour, the milk, and finally the yeast.

Grease a rectangular mould, pour in the mixture, even out with a spatula, then brush the surface with milk.

Sprinkle with plenty of caster sugar and bake in the preheated oven at 180C degrees for 30 minutes (check with a wooden toothpick, when the toothpick comes out dry, the cake is ready).

Italian cake recipes


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