Traditional Recipe for Easy Ciambella Romagnola

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Traditional Recipe for Easy Ciambella Romagnola: A homemade cake from Emilia-Romagna is called a Ciambella Romagnola. Flour, eggs, sugar, butter, and milk are the only things you need to make it. It’s an easy Italian baking recipe that makes a big sugar cookie that tastes great.

Traditional Recipe for Easy Ciambella Romagnola



  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon shredded lemon zest
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons milk


  • milk to brush on
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with butter, or spray with baking spray (I use baking spray).
  • Put all the dry ingredients for the dough, including the lemon zest, in a bowl. Blend them thoroughly with your hands or with a fork.
  • Stir the egg, vanilla, and mild together.
  • Rub the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.


  • Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add the liquids. Gradually work in the dry ingredients, tossing them with a fork (don’t stir). You want to moisten and not beat the dough. You could work the dough with your hands. The dough should be moist, lumpy, and sticky. You may need to add more tablespoons of milk and flour until you get the right consistency.
  • Generously flour a work surface and turn the dough onto it.  Lightly flour your hands. Pat the dough out to form a rectangle about 8 inches wide and 13 inches long.


  • Transfer the pastry to the baking sheet. Brush some milk on top and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of pearl sugar. Bake 25 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 250 F and bake another 25 minutes. You should check it at around 15-20 minutes to see how it is looking. You don’t want it to be too dark. Cut the ciambella into slices of about 1/2 inch thick and enjoy!

How to flavor a ciambella?

  • Lemon zest: Nonna Marta taught me how to make a ciambella flavored with fresh lemon zest. You may wonder how much to use? If you ask nonna Marta, she will tell you there is never enough. The handful of times I baked with her, she let me know I didn’t use enough lemon zest. Best to use an organic lemon (no chemicals), and be sure to only use the yellow zest, not the bitter white part.


  • Vanilla: I sometimes use a vanilla paste. If you have a vanilla bean, use the seeds. Or you could use a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
  • Flavored liqueur: Limoncello, anisette, Marsala, or even a bit of Vinsanto would add a different flavor. I have used homemade Limoncello (amazing!) in the dough


What is another name for ciambella?

In the Romagna region, you will see the dessert called ciambella romagnola, ciambella dura, brazadela. It may also be called ciambella ferrarese, or even “al paneton”.

What to serve with ciambella

I think of ciambella as a breakfast cake. So bring on the coffee! Pretend you’re in Italy, and serve a super foamy Italian foamy cappuccino or espresso. The ciambella could even be a part of a brunch spread that has cheeses, cured meats, and fruits.

If you are in Romagna, Italy, a ciambella is enjoyed dipped in some red wine as dessert. It would be with a typical wine from that area, like a Lambrusco or Sangiovese.

Can i make this italian cake ahead of time?

Yes, it’s a nice recipe to make ahead of time. is cake can be made up to 1 day ahead, cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.

What are some variations of this cake?

A very popular way to make this breakfast cake is by adding in some chocolate chips. There are other recipes that add in some raisins. The other way to serve this is with a layer of a chocolate-hazelnut cream or some jam. Or like nonna Marta does…. make a stewed fruit (prunes) or apple filling.


How to store a ciambella?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for a 2-3 days. If your kitchen is hot, store in the fridge (will stay fine for up to a week).

Can i freeze a ciambella?

Yes, once it’s cooled down, wrap the whole loaf tightly with plastic wrap and place in a zipped lock freezer bag (best to cut into portions or a few big chunks before freezing).

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