A lightly sweet, ring-shaped chocolate ciambella cake with creamy chocolate glaze. Serve with fresh berries for an easy, elegant dessert.
Ciambella cakes look like oversized doughnuts, and are often served for breakfast in Italy as a sweet little something to enjoy alongside coffee.
They’re unfussy plain cakes, sometimes scented with vanilla and lemon.
While this chocolate ring cake might not be considered ideal healthy breakfast fare, it will make you happy pretty much any time you eat it.
Ciambella (which means “ring” in Italian) cakes are said to be the Italian version of Bundt cakes, most likely because they’re both baked in tube pans.
They’re not fancy, usually just showered with nothing more than powdered sugar.
It’s probably not traditional to douse a ciambella cake with rich chocolate glaze, but that’s just what I’ve done with this recipe.
The texture of the cake itself is moist and lightly sweet, and it develops a circular crack down the center when it’s finished baking.
All the better to fill with more chocolate, as far as I’m concerned!
As the glaze oozes onto the cake and sets, it settles into the cake’s nooks and crannies. Yum!
Not to mention that the center of the cake serves as an open invitation to add a pile of fresh berries.
Italian ring cake recipes seem to inspire a certain amount of creativity, and even in Italy they vary from region to region.
What they all have in common is the homemade nostalgia, harkening back to old-fashioned kitchens complete with a busy nonna cooking for the family.
Things to know about making Italian chocolate ring cake, or ciambella:
- The shallow tube pan to use for baking a ring cake is called a savarin pan. It’s inexpensive and easy to find online, but it may not be a tool you have in your kitchen. Bake the cake in a plain tube cake pan or a fluted tube pan, and be sure to oil it thoroughly.
- You can substitute sour cream or buttermilk for the yogurt.
- The cake can be mixed by entirely by hand, but I find it easiest to use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites.
- Let the cake cool before adding the glaze — it will set faster.
Glazed Italian Chocolate Ring Cake
- 3 ounces (75 g) semisweet chocolate, broken or chopped into 1-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) confectioner's sugar
- 1⅓ cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 egg whites
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 ¼ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup (150 ml) plain whole milk yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup (150 ml) neutral vegetable oil, such as avocado, grapeseed or pure olive oil
- 3 cups (300 g) mixed berries, including sliced strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, tossed with 1 or 2 teaspoons sugar
Make the glaze
- Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream over medium heat until it forms little bubbles around the edge of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes, then add the butter and sugar and stir until completely smooth. Set aside to cool.
Make the cake
- Preheat oven to 350 (175 C) degrees with rack placed in the center.
- Oil a 9-inch savarin mold or plain tube pan with oil or cooking spray.
- Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt and cocoa powder through a fine strainer set over a mixing bowl.
- Whip the egg whites in a large bowl (by hand or with an electric mixer with the whip attachment) until they form soft peaks.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, yogurt and vanilla until smooth and airy. Slowly add the oil while mixing to incorporate. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and combine with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is no longer visible. Add the egg whites and fold gently until incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the pan (it will almost reach the top) and place in the oven. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake will crack along the middle — that's what you want.
- Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then gently invert onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.
- Put the cake cracked side up on a large plate or serving platter. Pour the glaze over the cake. Dump the berries in the middle of the cake, then slice and serve.
- This cake makes small, snack-size slices and disappears pretty quickly! It will keep well at room temperature for a day or two (without the berries).