Ciambellone – an Abruzzo specialty

The Ciambellone is the sweet symbol of every Abruzzese nonna (grandmother). Recipes vary from nonna to nonna.  Some incorporate a touch of sweet, citrus-scented liquor; some a spoonful of cocoa powder; and others a sprinkling of crusty, crystallised sugar on top.

This recipe is based on the recipe used by Lucia at my favourite B&B in Roseto degli Abruzzi. Grazie Lucia per la ricetta!

Lucia's Ciambellone with cocoa

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Serves 6-8 people, depending on how hungry!

  • 300 g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 150 g sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • a drop of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 glass of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 packet of lievito per dolci (16 g) if you can find it *
  • butter and a little more flour to grease the pan

* Substitute 1 tablespoon of baking powder & 2 teaspoons baking soda if you can’t find lievito. See picture below.


  1. Add all dry and wet ingredients, except the cocoa, into a bowl.
  2. Using a hand mixer, mix for 15 minutes until blended thoroughly.
  3. Heat the oven to 150 centigrade (@305 F).
  4. Butter and flour a ring (kuglehopf/bundt) pan.
  5. Add half of the batter to the pan.
  6. Sift most of the cocoa onto the batter and gently run a skewer through in a wave pattern to mix the cocoa in (this will give you subtle stripes of cocoa, not a chocolate cake).
  7. Pour the rest of the batter into the pan.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cocoa on top in a random fashion.
  9. Cook in the oven for about 35 minutes or until done.
  10. Allow to cool on a rack then turn onto a plate.
  11. When cool, sprinkle with a small amount of confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Delicious for breakfast, morning tea or afternoon coffee break (pretty much anytime, actually).

The ‘lievito per dolci’ is pictured below, along with a serving suggestion for breakfast! There are many brands available in Italy but I have never noticed it in Australia.

Buon Appetito!

12 thoughts on “Ciambellone – an Abruzzo specialty

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  1. Looks great I will try it., thank yo for sharing. Aside from the Italian Pane degli Angeli you can sometimes find here in Melbourne, I substitute Italian Lievito per dolci with 4 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, works brilliantly. I am loving all your posts and wish I was you! Have fun…

  2. we have been making this cake since the ‘s. My Nonni would bring the packets home from Italy to Canada. As we became anglicized it was called Italian Cake. I have many packets and was looking for recipes to use when I came across your site. my Nonni was from Terramo.

    1. Hi Janet, thanks for reading. I have since found the packets of rising agent her in Adelaide at a few Italian grocery shops. I love the scent when you open the pack. Hopefully your cake is delicious. There are quite a few recipes out there and you can add different things to change the taste. Happy baking! MaryLou

  3. Hello, I am interested in making this recipe, can you tell me the ingredients as stated on the pack of lievito per dolci please? My parents are from Casalbordino in Abbruzzi, and mum makes a version of this almost weekly!

    1. Do you need to know because if allergies? If you like you can substitute a few teaspoons of baking powder and a bit of vanilla essence or fresh vanilla bean, just a little vanilla. The packets I have are available at most Italian grocers here in Australia (and Canada as per comment on my post). There is no gluten however other ingredients are listed as (in Italiano): difosfato disodico E450 carbonato acido di sodio E500, amido di mais; stabilizzante: sali di calcio degli acidi grassi E470a, aromi. Spero che aiuti! MaryLouise

  4. Hi Elizabeth, a scant cup is enough, so 200 – 250 ml is a guide. Sometimes I use half yoghurt/ half milk if making a fruit version of this cake. So, omit the cocoa and add blueberries and lemon zest. There are infinite varieties of this cake and you can adjust the milk depending on other wet ingredients you use. Enjoy. And thanks for reading. MaryLou

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