Ciambellone Ring Cake – Old Days Italian Staple

This delicious classic Italian ring cake is simple, fast and butter-free.
By Elisa Gennari

Basically every person I know used to have, as a child, what we call “ciambellone” (big doughnut). I don’t think in the 70s and 80s in Italy there were women who did not know how to bake this delicious cake (obviously every household had its own recipe..).

Unfortunately, for the last two decades many moms seem to have forgotten how to bake their children an healthy and home made snack and had replaced it with ready-made ones, rich in sugars and preservatives. Recently, though, there has been a change of direction and many mothers are becoming more aware of the importance of food habits in children, and have started again to bake their own cakes.

You don’t have to be and expert chef to cook this simple cake and it’s amazing to prepare it with the kids. It’s so easy they can make it on their own. It tastes like old days, it is the perfect comfort food. Can you find something more simple?

I remember when I was a little girl my mom used to bake this cake and many variations of it, quite twice a week to make me and my sister have a healthy snack in the afternoon. Nowadays I would also say that it’s not only healthy for your children but it also really cheap, you will need just 5 simple ingredients. You can also add your personal twist by adding raisins, chocolate chips, nuts or everything you like, I’ve made it a couple of times with matcha green tea, it was awesome. I recommend you try it with chocolate chips and pecan or with a mix of grounded spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves…it will always be perfect.

To get the original shape you will need a ring-shaped pan, but if you don’t have it you can use a plumcake pan or a 23cm round pan.

Some tips to make some changes to this cake:
1. you can substitute milk with yogurt, or cream if you want to prepare a richer cake.
2. to make a marble cake: you use 250gr of all purpose flour, then divide the batter into two bowls and add 50 gr of cocoa powder into one. Then pour the dough into the pan alternately.
3. slice two apples and line them over the batter in the pan, dust with caster sugar and bake.

Now let’s bake our cake!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Old days Italian staple: Italian Ring Cake
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Simple, fast, butter-free and tasty cake
Recipe Type: Cake
Serves: 12/16
  • 3 eggs
  • 300gr all purpose flour
  • 200gr sugar
  • ½ glass of vegetable oil
  • 1 glass of milk
  • 25gr of baking yeast
  • orange or lemon zest, grated
  • 5gr of butter to grease the pan
  1. Preheat the oven at 180/200°C (350/390°F). Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it with a whisk, or put them into the food processor and turn it on. Mix until evenly combined.
  2. Grease your baking pan with butter and then add some flour and move the pan to even distribute the flour on the surface. Add the batter and cook for 40 minutes. You can check if it's ready by piercing the cake with a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  3. IMPORTANT! do not open the oven in the first 25 minutes or the cake will collapse

Elisa Gennari

Elisa Gennari

Elisa Gennari was born and raised in Rome, with a true passion for home made food. Her goal is to share her ideas about eating delicious food while still staying healthy. In her blog she teaches her secrets on how to cook Italian recipes, always with a healthy twist.

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Originally Published: November 13, 2012

7 Responses to Ciambellone Ring Cake – Old Days Italian Staple

  1. Lee Lian Reply

    March 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I used active dry yeast and halved the ingredients and baked in a loaf pan. My cake sank in the middle. Do you know what could be the cause?

    It still tasted good though but since I’ve never bought any before, I don’t know how it tastes.

  2. Elisa Gennari

    Elisa Gennari Reply

    March 15, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Hi! for this kind of cake active dry yeast is not suitable, you should use baking soda or baking powder instead, and this is the cause your loaf sank in the middle.
    Active dry yeast is supposed to leaven for a while and is mainly used for baking bread and pizza, this recipe, instead, need a yeast that will leaven in the oven to let the cake rise.
    Hope it helps!

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  4. Sandra Hope Reply

    February 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Hi, I made your cake and it turned out good but I had to guess on the amount of milk and vegetable oil as I had no idea how much a glass was. What is the measurement of “one glass?” My cake was a little rubbery but had a good flavor.

  5. Elisa Gennari

    Elisa Gennari Reply

    February 26, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Hi Sandra, I’m sorry I wasn’t more specific, you may use 200ml of milk and 100ml of oil, the rubbery consistency may be caused by a wrong amount of oil, so I hope you will make it again with these quantities.

  6. Steven Grimaldi Reply

    January 28, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Thank you for posting this recipe. My family used to make this and I have not had it in years. Can anisette be added to this cake? I remember the anisette flavor in my Mom’s version.

    • Elisa Gennari

      Elisa Gennari Reply

      January 28, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Hi Steven, sure you can add anisette to the cake (maybe one or two tablespoon) it’s also nice with limoncello if you use lemon zest. You could also add vanilla extract or cocoa to make a chocolate ring cake (in this case I would add 30gr of unsweetened cocoa powder and cut the same amount on the flour)! Hope you will enjoy this cake :)

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