Italian Sweet Bread

StreuselAdmittedly, this sweet bread, also known as ciambella or ciambellone, is a holiday bread typically served around Easter time and typically baked into a ring and dusted with powdered sugar.  As we enter a different kind of holiday season, this bread seemed perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas to me.

Even though many households will likely have limited guests this year, it’s always nice to have slices of sweet bread like this sitting on your table to welcome friends and family.  Better yet, this bread can be made ahead and gifted to let neighbors or friends know you are still near even if you can’t spend the holidays together.

This holiday sweet bread is typically described as a softer version of biscotti, only slightly sweet, it’s best fresh out of the oven but stores well for longer periods.  I gifted this beautiful loaf to a friend whose birthday is today.  She was having a limited number of family over for dinner and I thought she would enjoy serving this with coffee.

A really simple sweet bread, don’t use a stand mixer with this one.  It comes together easily by hand and resist the urge to over mix the dough, combine it just until it comes together.  I even sifted the flour to give it an extra bit of tenderness.  The addition of minced lemon peel along with it’s fat source of pure olive oil, this bread is fragrant and unique.

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Italian Sweet Bread

  • Author: Streusel
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf - 8 slices 1x


4 c. all-purpose flour (sifted)

1 c. sugar

1 T. baking powder

1 T. minced dried lemon peel

3 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 c. half and half

1/2 c. olive oil

1 large egg yolk

1/4 c. sparkling sugar or turbinado sugar


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan and dust with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together.
  4. Add the sugar and lemon peel.
  5. In another bowl, combine the eggs, oil and half and half.
  6. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and with a wooden spoon, mix until it starts to come together.
  7. Use your hands to finish kneading the dough into an oblong loaf.
  8. Place the dough in the prepared loaf pan.
  9. Whisk  the egg yolk, brush on the top of the loaf and generously sprinkle the sparkling sugar on top.
  10. Bake the loaf for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  11. Cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes and then remove from the pan, slice and serve.
  • Category: holiday bread
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