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Ciambellone Bicolore (Two-Colored Easter Bread)

by on March 23, 2010 · 14 comments

On our first night in Florence — somewhere between a visit to the Palatina Gallery and dinner at Trattoria 4 Leoni, we ducked into a bookshop in the Oltrarno. It was cold that evening and we were very hungry, but our dinner reservation wasn’t until 7:30.

The selection of English books was pretty limited, but there was one Italian cookbook with an English translation. It was in this book that I discovered the Ciambellone Bicolore, a two colored Easter Bread.

At the time, I didn’t ponder over what a Ciambellone was. I just focused on the recipe and tried to memorize the ingredients and technique for this chocolate marble cake baked in what seems to be Italy’s most popular cake pan, the ring pan or savarin mold. At the time, I figured I’d adapt it to a traditional Bundt pan and that’s what I ended up doing, but at one point during the trip I did purchase my own ring pan/savarin form so that I could make more Ciambellone.

So here’s my adaptation of the Ciambellone Bicolore made in a Bundt pan. I’ve included several notes below.

Ciambellone Bicolore

4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) white all purpose flour**
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
1 cup extra light olive oil**
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
A little less than 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (Hershey’s European style)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10 inch Bundt pan with flour-added cooking spray or grease thoroughly with butter and dust with flour.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high for about a minute. Slowly pour in the sugar and beat the sugar and eggs on one of the higher speeds for about 7 or 8 minutes.

While the eggs and sugar are beating, thoroughly mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. You can sift them together if you feel like it, but it’s not necessary.

Remove the mixing bowl from the mixing stand and with a heavy duty scraper or large spoon, stir in the flour mixture all the while trying to maintain the lightness of the egg/sugar mixture. Stir in the oil, then mix together the milk and vanilla and stir in the milk until you have a thick, dense, uniform batter. Again, do your best to stir without overbeating the flour.

Pour half (about 3 cups) of the batter into the pan. To the remaining batter, add the cocoa powder and stir until it’s mixed. Pour the chocolate batter into the pan over the vanilla batter. No need to swirl. The batter will form its own interesting pattern as it bakes.

Bake for 40-50 minutes (time will vary depending on oven, color of your pan, weight of your pan, etc.) or until a chopstick or cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan for about 10 minutes then carefully turn from pan and let it cool completely. Dust with sugar if you have some.

I served this with whipped cream and berries.

**I used bleached flour.  If you don’t like the idea of bleached, use unbleached.  However, I’ve read (and experienced) that you get better results with cakes when you used bleached.  I think it has to do with the type of wheat they use in bleached flour and the protein content.  So my preference for cakes, at least at the moment, is bleached flour.

**For the olive oil, use an extra light olive oil and not extra virgin unless you want a funny tasting cake.  I am fairly certain regular vegetable oil would be fine if not great.

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Published on March 23, 2010

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kalynskitchen March 23, 2010 at 10:01 am

Anna, it sounds like you had a great time traveling around Italy and eating great food!

janet March 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

Welcome back! Sounds like a wonderful trip!

hulagirl247 March 23, 2010 at 12:17 pm

hi anna ~

your ciamellone looks very yummy!

they do utilise olive oil in many cake recipes in italy – and they also make many with rosemary and/or lemon as well. as part of their regional ingredients it is very common – whereas here in the states we don’t really think to use olive oil as it seems it would be so much heavier than using butter.

giada de laurentiis has several nice baking recipes using these three regional ingredients. i’ve tired a few of them and been pleased with the results.

great photos of fuzz & todd!

regards –


Louise March 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm

On your side trip into Tuscany, did you go to Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano — the most beautiful butcher shop in the world? It’s probably seasonal, but when we were there it smelled of rosemary. We ended up staying a couple nights in the town.

Katrina March 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Someday I’m gonna go to Italy. It’s the only country overseas that I really want to visit sometime. (I’m Italian, maybe that’s why.)
Your bread/cake looks awesome with such contrasting black and white.

Darlene March 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I was so happy to see a picture of your plate from home – signifying the return from your trip. Sorry, that is selfish, but I’m sure I speak for everyone in saying we miss your daily updates and recipes when you are away!

Anna March 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Kalyn & Janet, thanks for stopping by! Yes, it was great. I’m happy to be back in the kitchen, though. I missed baking.

Hulagirl, I love Giada’s recipes as well.

I didn’t see any rosemary & lemon cakes while I was there….surprisingly.

Louise, we didn’t have time to go there but it sounds interesting.

Katrina, I hope you are doing well. And yes, the dark cocoa powder really contrasts nicely with the vanilla cake. Thanks for noticing.

Darlene, that is sweet of you to say. Yes, I’m back home with all my plates ;).

Karen March 23, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Welcome home! I am a total sucker for black and white desserts. This looks just gorgeous!
Looking forward to some more Italy-inspired treats.

Louise March 23, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Gorgeous Anna! I wonder if I could get away with baking this up in a springform pan?

Thanks for sharing…

melissa March 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm

What a great trip! Welcome back!

Love seeing your posts while in Italy. Looking forward to see what you are inspired to bake now that you’re back home!

Sweets By Vicky March 24, 2010 at 8:38 am

This looks and sounds like a cousin of my beloved marble cake! I lovee the deep dark chocolate bit! And Fuzz is the cutest, happiest girl ever!

Barbara March 24, 2010 at 11:31 am

Such a lovely cake and what a lovely accident to have found the recipe!
So glad you had so much fun! I’ve been a couple times and wish I could go back right now!

payal April 4, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Hi Anna, I made this today and it came out really well. Thanks for the recipe

Anna April 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Hi Payal,

Thanks for letting me know! I am actually looking forward to making another one of these. I enjoyed using my new ring pan.

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