Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Easter Bread with the Babes

Over the years we haven't really had very many Easter breads in April, but I'm really glad that our Kitchen of the Month, Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, chose this one this year. There is still plenty of time to bake this for Easter and then become a Bread Baking Babe Buddy (see below).

"The Ciambella Mandorlata is an Italian Easter bread that originated in Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region. It is typically baked in the shape of a ring which is supposed to represent the unity of the family." It is basically a brioche type bread with lots of butter and eggs. Most of the sweetness comes from the topping and even that isn't very sweet, so this is a primarily breakfast bread but I think that that you can eat anytime of day with enjoyment.

The instructions given were for making the dough by hand, but I've been gardening and my shoulder is pretty sore from weeding and carrying heavy stuff, so I adapted it to use the stand mixer. I'm including the given recipe, but the changes I made include starting by putting the sugar into the bowl and adding the lemon peel, then blending the peel into the sugar with my fingers. The yeast had already soaked in the slightly warm milk by then. Then I added the butter and eggs and beat it together with a whisk, then added the milk mixture and half the water. In another bowl I combined the bread flour and salt. This mixture I gradually added to the moist mixture in the bowl to form a soft, sticky dough, then let the mixer knead the dough for about 8 minutes.

The dough went into a raising container, got covered with a clean shower cap, and it rose until doubled. After punching it down and letting it sit for 10 minutes, I turned it out onto a lightly floured board, divided it in half, set one half aside and divided the second half in half. Those pieces each were rolled into approximately a 14 inch snake. The two snakes were wrapped around each other, ends connected and the ring went into a greased 9-inch pie plate. Then I repeated the shaping with the other half of the original dough.

Here I really went off the recipe, because I let the rings rise for about an hour and a half, then put them in the fridge overnight. The next day I took them out of the fridge, let them warm up while I made the topping and preheated the oven.

For the topping I mixed the sugar, copious amounts (as called for) of cinnamon, and an egg yolk. I used a small spatula to spread the topping over each strand of the braid, then sprinkled with chopped almonds (unpeeled and untoasted), pressing the almonds down into the topping a bit.

I baked it for about 15 minutes, then reduced the heat to 375 degrees F for the rest of the baking time, which was shorter than the recipe called for since I had made two smaller loaves.

The finished bread had quite a bit of dark brown on the crust, but it wasn't burnt. The topping got crispy and the whole thing was delicious! Great plain or with butter. Also, the whole house smelled of cinnamon...wonderful!!

Do make this one...anytime, not just for Easter. If you do and want to be a Buddy, send an email to Aparna with a photo and your baking experience by April 29th for the round-up...and you'll get a Buddy Badge.

Be sure to visit the other Babe's sites to see what they've done with this lovely rich bread.

Ciambella Mandorlata is from my copy of Ultimate Bread by  Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno


For the dough:
2 tsp dry yeast
1 ⁄2 cup lukewarm milk
41 ⁄2 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 ⁄3 cup sugar
grated zest of 3 lemons
9 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
1 ⁄2 cup water

For the topping:
4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar
3 ⁄4 cup blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1 egg yolk

Sprinkle the yeast into the milk in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes; stir to dissolve. Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the butter, eggs, and dissolved yeast.

Mix in the flour from the sides of the well. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to form a soft, sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, springy, and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 4 hours. Punch down the dough, then let rest, covered with a dish towel, for about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a 16-inch-long rope. Twist the two dough ropes together.
Place the dough rope on a buttered baking sheet. Shape it into a ring by bringing the two ends of the rope together. Pinch them to seal and cover with a dish towel. Proof until doubled in size, about 11 ⁄2 hours.

To make the topping mix the cinnamon, sugar, almonds, and egg yolk in a bowl. Use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture evenly over the top of the ring. 

Bake at 200C (400F) in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.


  1. Great idea to bake them up in pie pans! Love your smaller rings, they turned out beautiful.

  2. It looks great! I like the idea of baking it in the pie pan. I should have gone with two loaves too.

  3. Wow! Your crunch looks awesome!

    I found it much easier to bake two loaves, but you got better holes in the center. Very nice!

  4. Pie pans, of course! I should have thought of that.
    Love your plump Ciambella. And that crust..... :)

  5. This is a gorgeous bread and perfect for Easter

  6. It's nice to see that the bread turns out just as well if made using an electric mixer. And doesn't your bread look gorgeous?!

    It IS good plain, or with butter, isn't it? (I can't imagine adding jam....)