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Ciambellone

(Makes one 9-inch ring cake)
Ciambellone
Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup olive oil
4 large eggs
Grated zest of 1 large lemon

Icing:
Juice of 1 lemon
Confectioners' sugar
Colored sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease  a 9-inch tube pan or ring mold with olive oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta and olive oil.  (The mixture may appear curdled but it will come together once the eggs are added.)  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition until the batter is smooth. 

Pour the ricotta mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until the ingredients are well combined and the batter is smooth.  Stir in the lemon zest.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out dry. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto the wire rack to cool completely.

To make the lcing:
In a small bowl, stir tablespoons of confectioners' sugar into the lemon juice until you have an icing that is about the consistency of heavy cream.  Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake.  Add sprinkles, if desired.

Dust with confectioners' sugar or add the lemon icing before serving.
Store on a platter covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Ciambellone (some call it ciambella) is a ring-shaped dessert that is a cross between a bread and a cake and if often served for Easter. Most ciambellone have a distinct flavor that comes from the zest of lemons. This recipe also has the addition of ricotta cheese. Some bakers also add anise extract or wine to the batter or use butter in place of olive oil. Because it is not overly sweet, a slice can be served with coffee or espresso for breakfast or dipped into sweet wine at the end of a meal.  Ciambellone is traditionally baked in a ring-shaped pan but you can substitute an angel food cake pan, bundt pan or even a loaf pan ( you will just need to adjust the baking time.)

Since nearly every Italian family has a tried and true ciambellone recipe, there are numerous variations.  I tried several recipes before we decided that this one is our favorite.  Although most ciambellone are only dusted with confectioners' sugar, we added a lemon glaze that really boosts up the delicate lemon flavor of the cake. 
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TRADITIONAL ITALIAN EASTER EGGS
DESSERTS  >  ITALIAN CAKES PLAIN AND FANCY  >  CIAMBELLONE
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