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.
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.