Saturday 23 September 2023

Italian Ring Cake aka Ciambellone

Weirdly, I have come across several versions of this recipe in various cookbooks over the last couple of months.  I guess the universe was telling me to make this cake!  So I decided to go with this one from Pomegranates and Artichokes by Saghar Setareh.  I decided to jazz up the recipe with some frozen fruit added to the batter and on top of the cake before baking.  This is a very plain cake to be honest, so I was glad I added lemon juice and vanilla extract also.  This is good for dunking into coffee, says the author, and I'd have to say that's probably the best way to eat it.    

We featured this cookbook in both my cookbook clubs - Lambs' Ears which is a Facebook club, and the IRL one held at our local bookshop - The Quick Brown Fox.  What is it about foxes in this neighbourhood?:=)  I went along with our Persian friend Ms. A. and our Italian friend Ms. P. so we covered both parts of the book.  Ms. A. was of course keen on the Persian part of the book, and made a beautiful eggplant/aubergine dip called Mirza Ghasemi.  So delicious!

Did someone say cake?

Serves 8-10 (more or less):


4 large eggs

200g./7 oz caster sugar

zest of one lemon

220 mL/7.5 oz milk   -  see Notes

80 mL/2.7 oz vegetable oil or neutral oil - I used sunflower

2 tsp vanilla extract   (optional)

400g./14 oz plain flour or cake flour     see Notes

1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

1.5 tsp baking powder

120g./4.2 oz fresh or frozen fruit of your choice - I used frozen strawberries 'cos I had some in the freezer  - (optional)

icing sugar, for dusting


Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F

Grab a 24cm/9.5 inch ring tin or bundt tin, and butter it very very liberally (Mr P. always does this for me), chuck in heaps of plain flour and give it all a good tossing around, then discard the excess flour

Whisk the eggs with the sugar and lemon zest  - use a hand whisk or electric hand beaters - till pale and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved

Now pour in the milk, oil and vanilla (get someone else to do it if possible) as you keep whisking away

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together, and add to the eggy mixture very gently till just combined

Pour into the cake tin - or if adding fruit, pour half the batter into the tin, then place about 2/3 of the fruit on top, then add the rest of the batter and smooth it out

On goes the rest of the fruit, and into your oven for 50 minutes till golden, with a crack on top, and a skewer in the middle comes out clean

Let it cool in the tin (but out of the oven) for ten minutes then transfer to a cake rack (out of the tin)

Once completely cooled, throw on some icing sugar

Will last in an airtight container on the bench for a few days, but may be best to put into the fridge if you live in the sub-tropics like we do.


I decided this batter needed more flavour so I used 160 mL of milk and 60 mL of lemon juice, but do as you wish, my friends

I made up cake flour by using 360g./12.7 oz of plain flour and 40g./1.4 oz cornflour/cornstarch

ingredients gathered

whisk the eggs and sugar together

mixing everything together - looks like porridge :=)

throw on the fruit and into the oven

such a lovely cover on the book

cooling casually on top of the hob

a closer view

and liberally dusted with icing sugar

Here are some photos from Cookbook Club at The Quick Brown Fox.  We cook, we eat and we discuss the book of the month.  And tell tales of our lives, and discuss life, the universe and everything.

My friend Atee's eggplant dip

moi with the cookbook and the cake

Ms. Atee, moi and Theresa (bookshop owner)

Ms. Atee perusing the cookbook

c. Sherry M.

and a bonus photo of Ms. P. studiously looking into the book


  1. What a beautiful and tempting cake! I like the add of frozen fruit here and I too have some frozen berries that I need to use. Unfortunately I don't have a ring pan...might just use a bundt pan. Thanks Sherry, for this lovely recipe. The eggplant dip looks great too!

    1. thanks Angie. Frozen fruit is so handy to have in the freezer. Yep try a bundt pan - it may just be a bit thinner than the ring pan version.

  2. The cake sounds good with your additions and looks good with the frozen strawberries.

  3. I like the Douglas Adams reference. I must investigate this cake. It's not one I've seen in Italy and I think your additions were perfect.
    from Tandy I Lavender and Lime

  4. What a lovely photo of you . . . and of the handsome cake also: but since methinks my last piece of such was consumed about three decades ago i guess the second does not count :) !

    1. thanks so much Eha. So you don't eat cake at all? I seem to be eating more of it lately :=)

    2. Both my childhood home and that of my husband were pretty 'savoury' . . . we travelled a huge amount i'nationally on business andon its accounts > soon learned that being huge foodies that put on weight > so, savoury it mostly remained . . . now I have studied nutrition for the last three decades > continuity again, well mostly :) !

    3. I am rather fond of savoury myself :=)

  5. I love any thing citrus flavored and there are many versions of this cake like with many recipes. I found one which has 1 cup of orange juice, zest of 3 oranges and1 lemon, and orange flavored icing. I like your use of frozen fruit too :)

    1. that's interesting Judi. I like the sound of the orange version!

  6. Looks delicious! Perfect afternoon tea, cake - nom nom

  7. It looks fantastic, Sherry, and I think adding fruit was a good idea. I made one once, and it was more cookie-like in texture than cake-like. Definitely sounds worth trying your version!

    1. thanks David. Adding the fruit was a very good idea I reckon :)

  8. Your Italian Ring Cake looks absolutely delightful, especially with those frozen strawberries. 😍 I admire your creativity in jazzing up the recipe. It's wonderful to see how a simple cake can become a masterpiece with a personal touch. Your Cookbook Club gathering looks like a lot of fun too. Cooking, eating, and discussing the book of the month - what a fantastic way to spend time with friends! 📚🍽️ Thanks for sharing this delightful culinary adventure!

    1. thank you Raymund. Yes cookbook club is a real boon in my life - such fun!

  9. While I have not been lucky to come across this cake over the last couple of months, I wouldn't mind to meet it with my morning cup of coffee :) Lemon infused and with some berries - that's a lovely match!

  10. While I have not been lucky to come across this cake over the last couple of months, I wouldn't mind to meet it with my morning cup of coffee :) Lemon infused and with some berries - that's a lovely match!

  11. What a fun recipe! And the fact that you've come across it several times lately was definitely a sign. I hear you say that it was rather plain, but to me that's perfect when paired with a good tea or a strong mug of coffee!

    1. thanks David. Yep a definite sign, and yep good with a cuppa!

  12. I love the idea of your cookbook club Sherry, and the book Pomegranates and Artichokes. I've seen it a lot and must either borrow it or buy it, very attractive cover, I love that Middle Eastern style of food. Your cake looks amazing, I'm sure it was delicious with a coffee.

    1. yes i really love both cookbook clubs Pauline. so lucky!


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