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Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella Romagnola, Illustrated

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Done!

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Done!

A Ciambella Romagnola, Romagna’s traditional ring cake, is wonderful for breakfast, dipped into warm milk or caffè latte. It’s also quite nice at the end of a meal, served either with a glass of dessert wine along the lines of Albana di Romagna, or with the slices drizzled with zabaione or a fruit sauce or glaze.

Barbara Lucchi and her husband Riccardo Menghi, run the Vecia Cantena d’La Pré in Predappio Alta, a pretty hilltop town in the Appennini southwest of Forlì. I was fortunate enough to visit them in the course of a press tour, and when I returned to the town called ahead to ask Barbara (she handles the cooking, while he serves their guests) if she could demonstrate something easy to make.

Her Ciambella Romagnola, one of the region’s traditional cakes, certainly fits the bill. Her one word of warning: Don’t scale the recipe. It works perfectly as is.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Combine Eggs and Sugar

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Combine Eggs and Sugar

Barbara, like all Italian cooks, works by weight, and in this case I am giving weights first, followed by volume equivalents. You’ll need:

  • 250 g (1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar 5 eggs
  • 200 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted over a double boiler or in the microwave and allowed to cool
  • 500 g (4 1/8 cups) unbleached flour; she uses Italian grade 00
  • The grated zest of a lemon, yellow part only as the white is bitter
  • Milk: About 250 ml (1 cup), plus a little more at the end
  • 2 16-gram packets of lievito chimico, the Italian equivalent of baking powder. Barbara’s was vanigliato, vanilla flavored. You can also use plain baking powder, about 6 teaspoons.
  • A 26 cm (10-inch) ring mold. Barbara’s had a non-stick coating (“It’s what I’ve got”).
  • More butter and flour for buttering and flouring the mold.
  • Granella di zucchero for decorating the cake. This is a coarse-grained sugar used for decorating baked goods that goes by several names in English, including pearl sugar, coarse sugar, or decorators sugar.
Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Beat The Eggs with the Sugar

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Beat The Eggs with the Sugar

Begin by melting the butter, either over a double boiler or in the microwave. Let it cool. Also, preheat your oven to 180 C (360 F).

In the meantime, put the sugar in a deep round-bottomed bowl and crack the eggs into it. Beat with a mixer set to low/medium for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is a creamy yellow. “At this point,” Barbara says, “We have a cold zabaione.”

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Add Some Flour

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Add Some Flour

Add about a third of the flour to the egg and sugar mixture, and beat the batter for about a minute. Add another third of the flour and beat for a minute more.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Add The Butter

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Add The Butter

Add the melted butter and beat for another 30-40 seconds.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Add Lemon Zest

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Add Lemon Zest

Next, add the lemon zest, using either a lemon peeler or a grater. Be careful to add just the yellow part, as the white pith is bitter.

Beat in half of the milk, and half of the remaining flour. Then beat in the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour.

The next step is to butter the ring mold; be thorough, and then flour it, tapping it upside down to remove excess flour.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Baking Powder

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Baking Powder

Add the baking powder and beat it in; Barbara adds a little more milk at this point to make certain that it dissolves. The batter will be quite creamy.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: The Batter Into the Ring

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: The Batter Into the Ring

Pour the batter into the pan, using a spatula to get the last of it. Give the filled pan a couple of quick shakes, and tap it once or twice against your counter top to level the batter.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Granella di Zucchero!

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Granella di Zucchero!

Sprinkle some granella di zucchero over the cake. Granella di zucchero is a coarse-grained sugar used for decorating baked goods that goes by several names in English, including pearl sugar, coarse sugar, or decorators sugar.

You’ll want enough to cover the surface, about a cup I’d say.

Bake the ciambella on a low rack in your preheated 180 C (360 F) oven for 40-45 minutes.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Enjoy

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Enjoy

I had mine with a lightly chilled glass of Albana di Romagna, a sweet white wine, and it was superb.

Barbara’s Recipe, in a shorter page.

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella Romagnola, An Easy Italian Ring Cake

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: Done!

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: Done!

Barbara Lucchi and her husband Riccardo Menghi run the Vecia Cantena d’La Pré in Predappio Alta, a pretty hilltop town in the mountains southwest of Forlì.

Her Ciambella Romagnola, one of the traditional cakes of the region, is quite easy to make. It’s wonderful for breakfast, dipped into warm milk or caffè latte. It’s also nice at the end of a meal, either with a glass of dessert wine along the lines of Albana di Romagna, or with the slices drizzled with zabaione or a fruit sauce or glaze.

Her one word of warning: Don’t scale the recipe. It works perfectly as is.

  • 250 g (1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 200 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted over a double boiler or in the microwave and allowed to cool
  • 500 g (4 1/8 cups) unbleached flour; she uses Italian grade 00
  • The grated zest of a lemon, yellow part only as the white is bitter
  • Milk: About 250 ml (1 cup), plus a little more at the end
  • 2 16-gram packets of lievito chimico, the Italian equivalent of baking powder. Barbara’s was vanigliato, vanilla flavored. You can also use plain baking powder, about 6 teaspoons.
  • A 26 cm (10-inch) ring mold. Barbara’s had a non-stick coating (“It’s what I’ve got”).
  • More flour for buttering the mold.
  • Granella di zucchero for decorating the cake. This is a coarse-grained sugar used for decorating baked goods that goes by several names in English, including pearl sugar, coarse sugar, or decorators sugar.

Begin by melting the butter, either over a double boiler or in the microwave. Let it cool. Also, preheat your oven to 180 C (360 F).

In the meantime, put the sugar in a deep round-bottomed bowl and crack the eggs into it. Beat with a mixer set to low/medium for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is a creamy yellow. “At this point,” Barbara says, “We have a cold zabaione.”

Add about a third of the flour to the egg and sugar mixture, and beat the batter for about a minute. Add another third of the flour and beat for a minute more.

Add the melted butter and beat for another 30-40 seconds.

Next, add the lemon zest, using either a lemon peeler or a grater. Be careful to add just the yellow part, as the white pith is bitter.

Beat in half of the milk, and half of the remaining flour. Then beat in the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour.

The next step is to butter the ring mold; be thorough, and then flour it, tapping it upside down to remove excess flour.

Add the baking powder and beat it in; Barbara adds a little more milk at this point to make certain that it dissolves. The batter will be quite creamy.

Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella alla Romagnola: The Batter Into the Ring

Barbara Lucchi’s Ciambella alla Romagnola: The Batter Into the Ring

Pour the batter into the pan, using a spatula to get the last of it. Give the filled pan a couple of quick shakes, and tap it once or twice against your countertop to level the batter.

Sprinkle some granella di zucchero over the cake. Granella di zucchero, as I noted above, is a coarse-grained sugar used for decorating baked goods that goes by several names in English, including pearl sugar, coarse sugar, or decorators sugar.

You’ll want enough to cover the surface, about a cup I’d say.

Bake the ciambella on a low rack for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

Barbara’s Recipe, Illustrated