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Holiday Breads
ciambelli di capodanno
Ciambelli di Capodanno (with yeast, baking powder and anise seeds)
Originated from: Ripi, Frosinone, Lazio
Occasion: New Year's Eve
Contributed by: Pierina Faustini

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1 kilo of flour (and a touch more)
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 bag [2 1/4 teaspoons] traditional dry yeast
1 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar (to proof yeast)
1 teaspoon Magic baking powder

A pot of water (to boil the ciambelli)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (to place in the pot of water)

*Spellings vary


o Combine ingredients and work into a malleable dough -- it should be harder in consistency than a typical Italian bread or pizza dough.

o Shape the dough into a ball. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm room for a few hours until it doubles in volume.

o Take a chunk of dough and stretch it into a long taralli-style log (about 12 inches).

o Take the log and then on a floured wooden board flatten it, so that it is about 2 1/2 inches to 3 inches wide, 1/4 inch thick, and about 13 to 14 inches long. The weight of each log should be about 8 ounces.

o About every inch or so, fold the dough over so that decorative edges are created (This technique is similar to the one used when crimping pie crusts).

o Cut each end of the folded flat piece of dough, making 1/2 inch long slits.

o Shape the folded flat piece of dough into a circle, and intertwine the slits.

o Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding two tablespoons of oil in it.

o Place one ciambelline into the boiling water and wait for it to rise. When it rises, remove and place it on a platter.

o When all the ciambellini are boiled, place them on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

o Place the cookie sheet on the middle rack and bake in a 350 F degree oven until the ciambellini are a golden brown.


Pierina notes that her mother did this recipe "by eye" and she does this as well. She plans to measure the amount of flour needed the next time she makes these cambellini. When her mother was growing up in Ripi, Frosinone in the 1930s these cambellini were only made for New Year's Eve, and for no other time. Apparently, even though the cambellini look similar to taralli the townsfolk in Ripi viewed them as a kind of holiday bread, but not the dessert variety. On New Year's Eve the cambellini were offered to guests to be eaten with the main meal as bread, replacing the everyday style of loaves that were regularly eaten. Cambellini were also known as "biscotti sec," "dry biscotti," as they were a bit hard and did not contain any cream. Also, many households in Ripi offered these cambellini to children who went "trick or treating" on New Year's Eve as was the custom in the 1930s.... The cambelline shown in this entry was made by Pierina Faustini; the photo was taken by Mary Melfi.

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