What is Ciambelle?
The term ciambelle literally means something that is in the form of ring. Ciambella is a ring-shaped cake, while ciambelle typically means donuts. The great thing about ciambelle is that they can be both sweet and savory. The classic savory ones are comparable to American ballpark soft pretzels, and are often made with fennel or anise flavors. The sweet ones of course are similar to classic pastries, which can have just sugar or even fruity components. And because we love both the savory and sweet versions, we’re sharing our favorite recipes from both categories.
1. Ciambelle with Anise
While we share a lot of recipes on our website, we especially love the ones that are passed down from generation to generation. There is something so magical about family members making food together and ensuring the recipes stay as close to the original as possible. And as always, these recipes end up being very nostalgic and you can definitely taste the ‘love’ that’s been placed in them.
This recipe comes from the region of Lazio, Italy and was passed down from grandmother to grandchild. We love the braiding technique on this, which gives it such a beautiful rustic feel. Its bagel like texture and aromatic light anise flavoring makes it great side for lunches or dinners. Or it can even be eaten alone as a snack!
2. Ciambelle with Fennel
For those who want a savory version but find anise to be a bit too strong, we recommend trying the fennel version. Fennel has a similar flavor profile as anise, but is not as powerful. This too is also a recipe that’s been handed down from generation to generation, which is why the amount of chewiness in this recipe has been perfected. While hard to describe, I would say it’s comparable to a bagel and gets even chewier after a couple of days. These can be eaten fresh within a week, or frozen for up to a month.
3. Ciambelle al Vino (Wine Cookies)
What do you do with your left over wine? You could drink it all. Or you could cook with it by placing it in your sauces. But have you ever placed them in baked goods? If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat. This recipe for these cookies are a subtley-sweet treat with a hint of wine flavoring, and are perfect flavors the Fall and Winter!
The dough is very easy to come together, but the secret is not to over-knead. This trick will ensure the cookies have the perfect crispy texture. Feel free to dunk them in milk, coffee, or even more wine. Hey, the more wine the merrier, right?
4. Ciambelle Fritte (Fritelle)
We couldn’t talk about donuts without talking about our favorite fritelle (fried) version. This is classic as it can get when it comes to the sweet version of the donut, and this recipe is the best one we’ve tried. Not only is it the prefect melt-in-your-mouth texture, but the flavor has a nice balance of lemon and sweetness.
Make sure to follow this recipe’s instructions to the ’T’ since working with fried foods can be a little tricky. Some of the tips include using both bread and all purpose flour to achieve the right amount of porous-ness (is that a word?) And also making sure the oil temperature is high enough so that the donut is actually getting fried instead of just absorbing the oil (since you don’t want them to end up being greasy).
This is one of my favorite recipes to make for Christmas morning and I must admit that I try to make these only for Christmas, otherwise I’d be eating them all year-round.
5. Ciambelle al Forno
If you love the taste of sweet donuts but want an alternative to the fried version, then we recommend trying this oven-baked version. They’re still sweet and delicious, but are a bit more guilt-free due to the fact that they don’t require any oil or butter. Even without the typical fats in these donuts, they are surprisingly so light and fluffy you’ll be amazed. The secret to this recipe is the Manitoba or American flour which has the right amount of leavening which will provide the dough with the right amount of elasticity and texture. With being a healthier option compared to the fried version, feel free to eat an extra one, or 2, or 3 donuts!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on which ciambelle recipes you’re excited to try. Are you more into the sweet or the savory? or does it depend on the occasion? And remember, all the recipes we shared are great base recipes. Feel free to add your favorite flavor profiles to the recipes to tailor them to your liking. If you like these recipes, we definitely recommend taking a look at our favorite Torta Paradiso post. There are some amazing cake recipes there, so definitely check it out!