Ciambella all-Arancia (orange-scented olive oil cake)
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Rosetta Costantino, ©2013
"I was served a similar cake topped with a spoonful of homemade marmalade for breakfast at Casa Janca Agriturismo in Pizzo. My version gets a beautiful shine by soaking the baked cake with orange juice. Chopped candied orange peel gives the cut slices a jeweled appearance. The standard Italian ciambella pan has a diameter of 26 centimeters (about 10 inches) and is 8 centimeters (about 3 inches) high, with a tube in the center that is taller than the sides of the pan. The cake also turns out well when baked in a Bundt or standard tube pan. Look for oranges that have not been sprayed or waxed because you will be using quite a bit of the rind; you will need about six large oranges. It is easiest to zest the oranges before juicing them."
  • 3 cups (396 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch for the egg whites
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons (275 g) sugar
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) mild-flavored (buttery) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons packed finely grated orange zest
  • 2 cups (480 ml) fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons pure orange extract (optional)
  • ⅓ cup packed (67 g) finely chopped (1/4-inch) candied orange peel (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour a 10-inch (12-cup) ciambella, Bundt, or tube pan, knocking out the excess flour.
  2. Stir together the flour, baking powder and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1¼ cups of the sugar until thick. Whisk in the olive oil, orange zest, 1½ cups of the orange juice, and the orange extract, if you are using it. Stir in the flour mixture just until it is combined.
  3. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium-high speed until medium-firm peaks form that are not at all dry. Use a large spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Fold in the candied orange peel. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  4. Bake until the top of the cake splits and begins to turn golden, about 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
  5. Let the cake cool in the pan until you can easily handle it, about 20 minutes. Unmold the cake onto a wire rack top side up and place the rack over a rimmed baking sheet. (When using a ciambella pan, the cake is traditionally served split side up.) Let the cake cool completely.
  6. To make the soaking syrup, strain the remaining ½ cup of orange juice into a small bowl and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until it dissolves. Slowly pour the syrup evenly over the top of the cake, allowing it to soak in as you pour. Use a pastry brush to brush the remaining syrup all over the outside of the cake.
  7. To serve, cut the cake in slices using a thin, sharp knife or serrated knife. Store leftovers at room temperature, well wrapped, for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to one month.
Recipe by Simple Italy at