From an Old Cookbook . . .

An almost forgotten simple, sweet recipe.

Last week while doing some housekeeping, I came across an old, little cookbook: il libro dei dolci (the dessert book).

I had not seen the book in years, as it got lost among my boxes full of magazines and loose recipes. It was a free insert of Insieme, an Italian magazine for new moms and moms to be. The publication was from 1991, the year my first second son was born. I am not exactly sure why a new mom would need a cake/biscotti cookbook for her new baby, however, there are some nice recipes for kids and adults alike. On the very first page I had also jotted down a couple of recipes: the brioche and the zeppole but I will share those at a later time.

Browsing through the book I could not believe that I forgot about one my kids favorite breakfast cakes: la ciambella dei 7 vasetti. Let me explain, ciambella is a ring shaped cake, vasetti are little jars. So the translation would be something like “the ring shaped cake of the 7 small jars” . . . it sounds so much better in Italian!

The name comes from the fact that you can measure everything with a yogurt tub as a measuring cup.

So, this past Sunday night I decided to bake the ciambella for a quiet Labor Day breakfast with my husband. I made very few variations to the recipe and I will list them below.

I guess you realized that one of the ingredients is yogurt. When I used to bake this ciambella for my kids I used yogurt’s flavors that they enjoyed such as strawberry or peach. This time I decided to use lemon flavored Greek yogurt, which I thought it sounded more grown up. The original recipe lists whole yogurt, however, I used low fat. You can also use plain unsweetened yogurt, which I am sure would be delicious as well. Also, there is not butter in this cake, which makes it a little lighter and healthier . . . yeah, I know it’s still a cake, but don’t we all need an excuse to have dessert? Hey, no butter seems a good excuse to me!

The butter is substituted with vegetable oil. My next experiment will be to try  plain Greek yogurt and extra virgin olive oil, I think this combination will achieve a more tangy flavor that I might enjoy . . . I will keep you posted.

Another small variation in my recipe is the use of vanilla sugar instead of regular sugar. I made my own vanilla sugar some time ago; it is probably the simplest thing to make in the kitchen. You just need 1 vanilla bean, 2 cups of sugar and an airtight container. The vanilla beans can be fresh, but you can also use the beans after scraping the inside for a different recipe. If you are using a fresh bean, just pour the sugar in the container, split the vanilla bean and scrape into the sugar. Stir and then bury the bean into the sugar. Seal tight and let sit for two weeks. Replenish with sugar as you use it.

Also, since in my pantry I had some packets of Italian vanilla flavored baking powder, that’s what I used. It’s called “Lievito Pane degli Angeli ” (Angels’ bread yeast) and it is flavored with vanilla. In the recipe below, however, I have listed baking powder and baking soda.

NOTE: I used a bundt pan instead of a ring pan. So, may be I could call it “7 jars bundt cake“, what do you think?



(Adapted from il libro dei dolci)

Cosa ti serve – What you need

3 extra large eggs

1 tub of yogurt (your favorite flavor or plain)

2 tubs of vanilla sugar (or regular granulated sugar) Tip: use only 1-1/2 tub if using sweetened yogurt

3 tubs of flour sifted together with ½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 tub of vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (not on original recipe)

Zest of one lemon

Powder sugar

Oil and flour to grease and dust the pan

Come si fa (How you do it)

Preheat oven at 350 degree. Oil and floured the bundt pan.

Pour the yogurt in a large bowl. Rinse and dry the yogurt tub and use it as measuring cup. Add 2 tubs of sugar to the yogurt.

Whisk to blend the ingredients. While whisking add the eggs one at the time.

Also add the salt and the lemon zest.

Slowly add the sifted flour, whisk to incorporate all the flour carefully avoiding any lumps.

Lastly, pour the oil very slowly. Keep whisking until all the oil is has been absorbed into the batter.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Test: an inserted toothpick comes out clean when the cake is done.

Remove from the oven and transfer the pan on a cooling rack.

Let rest for 5 minutes, carefully remove from pan and allow the cake to cool completely on the cooling rack. Before serving dust it with powdered sugar.

Since the ciambella had not butter, I served it with apricots butter, a 5 minutes preparation that I had seen on one of the Barefoot Contessa shows. You just need to blend together, in a food processor, 8 tablespoon of butter and 4 tablespoon of apricots preserve . . . heaven in 15 seconds!

MY SLICE . . .

Store the cake at room temperature and cover with a plastic wrap to keep it moist.

Do you have a favorite breakfast cake? Please share!

25 thoughts on “From an Old Cookbook . . .

  1. thanks for this lovely blogg. i found you because i have inherited some angels bread yeast packets from my mother in law. i am wondering if i can use a packet to replace the ½ t baking powder and ¼ t baking soda with a packet? we are looking forward to trying it!


  2. How wonderful to find an old cookbook with lots of memories! And I like the translation for the cake too – it sounds so elegant in Italian. And it looks delicious 🙂


  3. It is always so much fun to find an old cookbook or recipe tucked away somewhere and to re-visit it! I like how you wrote little personal notes inside . . . something that your children will cherish someday. The cake is lovely and I like that you made it delicious AND more healthy!

    Ciao and baci,


  4. Looks soooo yummy. I do this all the time, forget about an old favorite but really enjoy it more because I haven’t had it for awhile. My husband usually forgets completely and thinks it is some new fab recipe.


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