Cranberry Orange Ciambella

One of my favorite Italian traditions? Cake for breakfast. Cake for snack. Cake for dessert. In Italian homes, breakfast is usually not served as a hot meal – rather, you might eat toast with jams, nuts, even cheeses and dried meats. Often, you’ll find breakfast cakes – not overly sweet or iced, with a delicate crumb to them. They’re also served with espresso for afternoon guests.

A ciambella is a essentially just a ring shaped cake. I’ve dressed this one up for the holidays with a sugar glaze, called gilleppo and sugared cranberries, but this cake can certainly be prepared without it. The cake itself is only slightly sweet and you’ll find that is more dense than American bundt cakes. The cake is moistened with oil, as opposed to butter, which is typical of ciambella and many other Italian cakes, and gives a different texture than one would find in a butter based dessert. It makes for a beautiful presentation and can be made ahead of time.

Cranberry Orange Ciambella

  • Servings: 8-12 people
  • Difficulty: medium
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    For the Ciambella

  • 4 eggs
  • 200 grams sugar
  • Juice of 2 large Navel oranges (about 125 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest, from one orange)
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
  • 150 ml canola oil
  • 350 g flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup cranberries (tossed in 1 tablespoon flour)
  • For the Gileppo (Optional)

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • Sugared Cranberries:



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a bundt pan (or ring shaped pan) well with cooking spray. Alternatively, drizzle canola oil into the pan and spread with a paper towel. Dust flour into the pan and distribute.
  2. To a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs and sugar. Using a stand mixer or an electric mixer, cream them together for about 3-5 minutes on a medium high speed.
  3. Add the orange juice, zest, canola oil and vanilla. For a more intense orange flavor, you may add orange extract, but this is not necessary. Mix to combine for about 1 minute.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add this to the wet ingredients slowly, about a 1/2 cup at a time, mixing the ingredients together thoroughly before adding the next iteration. The batter should be thick when all ingredients are combined.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, toss cranberries with a tablespoon of flour. This will prevent the cranberries from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Gently fold the cranberries into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into your ring or bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges have browned a toothpick comes out clean from the cake. Let cool completely before removing from the pan.
  7. If you choose to ice the cake, overturn the cake onto a wired cooling wrack. Prepare the gileppo by whisking together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until you achieve a smooth consistency with no lumps. Gently pour over the cake and allow to set, about 5-10 minutes.
  8. Decorate with sugared cranberries, if desired.

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