Ciambella Ampezzana

Raisin Cake from Cortina d’Ampezzo

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Preparation info

  • Makes about


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

This simple cake, a light pound cake, is typical of the down-to-earth pastries and desserts from the region known as the Ampezzana. The area’s capital, Cortina d’Ampezzo, is known principally as a luxury ski resort. But before the days of tourism, the area was characterized by a simple, even austere, mountain-agriculture way of life. Although part of the Veneto, the region exhibits a cooking style with a strong Austrian/Tyrolean influence. This recipe is loosely adapted from I dolci del Veneto (Desserts of the Veneto), by Giovanni Capnist.


  • ¾ cup raisins or currants
  • 12 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup grappa or brandy


Butter and flour a 2-quart fluted pan, such as a Gugelhupf pan.

Place the raisins in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and drain. Spread the raisins out on a pan covered with paper towels to absorb the excess moisture.

Beat the butter with the sugar, salt, and lemon zest until it is soft and light, either by hand, with a hand mixer set at medium speed, or in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between additions.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and toss 2 tablespoons of the mixture with the raisins in a small bowl. Stir the remaining flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk and grappa or brandy, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the floured raisins.

Whip the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl, either by hand, with a hand mixer set at medium speed, or in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whip. Continue whipping the egg whites until they hold a soft peak. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the rest gently with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle level of a preheated 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Cool the ciambella in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a rack. Lift off the pan and finish cooling the ciambella. Dust the ciambella with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Keep the ciambella loosely covered at room temperature.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing