Ciambella all’Arancia (Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake)


As much as I love to cook, there’s something about baking that makes my heart sing. Maybe it’s the warming scent of hot dough in the oven that I find so comforting. Perhaps it’s that with baking there’s always plenty for everyone and I enjoy sharing and feeding others. Possibly it’s because I’m a numbers person and like exact measurements.  (Although it’s probably just all the sugar that makes my heart beat faster.) Whatever the reasons, baking just makes me happy. Several weeks ago, courtesy of my friend and fellow blogger Adri, I received a copy of Rosetta Costantino’s new cookbook, Southern Italian Desserts. So yes, extra beats were involved that day with so many magnificent recipes ranging from flaky Sfogliatelle to Torta di Pistacchio and Zeppole di San Giuseppe. The impressive Ciambella all’Arancia, an orange scented ring shaped cake was the perfect recipe because not only was I ready to bake, I had something special I wanted to bake with. Southern Italian Desserts While at the Desenzano market last fall, Cristina and I spotted a very colorful booth in the distance. As we got closer, we saw the colors were hundreds of silicone molds – any shape, dimension or size you could think of. There were cake shapes ranging from trains to fruit to flowers. And chocolate, cookie and lollipop forms for any event or holiday. We spent way too much time trying to decide what shape to buy, and in the end, we both bought the same one, a very striking and intricate rose. Silicone Molds Silicone Cake Mold Silicone molds were new to me and I learned a few things about baking in them. First of all, put the mold on a cookie sheet in the oven which makes it much easier to handle. Secondly the baking time needs to be increased but it depends on the shape you’re using. Rosetta’s recipe called for about 40 minutes baking time. I baked my Ciambella 50 minutes and it probably could have used another couple more as it was still a tad bit undercooked right in the bottom middle of the rose. Lastly, and this is pretty important, let the cake cool completely before you pop it out of the mold – I had to reattach a few petals in my haste to free my beautiful cake. Ciambella I now have a new favorite cake to have with both my coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon. Don’t judge me, you’ll want to do the same. I also learned two things about orange extract – it actually turns disgusting after sitting in your pantry for five years and as Rosetta says in the recipe, it’s optional.

And if you don’t happen to have a chocolate brown rose shaped silicone mold that you bought at the Desenzano market, the Ciambella tastes just as wonderful in a tube pan.

Ciambella all’Arancia (Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake)
  • 3 c. (396 g) flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt, plus a pinch for the egg whites
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1¼ c. plus 2 T. (275 g) sugar
  • ¾ c. (180 ml) mild flavored extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T. packed finely grated orange zest
  • 2 c. (480 ml) fresh orange juice
  • 2 tsp. pure orange extract (optional)
  • ⅓ c. packed (67 g) finely chopped candied orange peel
  • Flour and Eggs Orange Juice and Candied Orange Peel
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Butter and flour a 10 inch ciambella, tube or bundt pan.
  3. Stir together the flour, baking powder and ½ tsp. of salt in a bowl.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1¼ c sugar until thick.
  5. Whisk in the olive oil, orange zest, 1½ c orange juice and optional orange extract.
  6. Stir in the flour mixture just until combined.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt at medium high speed until medium firm peaks form.
  8. Beaten Egg Whites
  9. Use a spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  10. Fold in the candied orange peel.
  11. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  12. Bake about 40 minutes until the top of the cake splits and begins to turn golden.
  13. Let the cake cool completely. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
  14. To make the soaking syrup, strain the remaining ½ c of orange juice in a small bowl and stir in 2 T. sugar until it dissolves. Slowly pour over the top of the cake allowing it to soak in. Use a pastry brush to brush the remaining syrup over the outside of the cake.