Perugian Easter cake ‘Ciaramicola’

‘Ciaramicola’ is a traditional Umbrian Easter cake, simple but delicious and beautiful to behold, with a distinctive flavour from the alchermes liqueur. This dessert enraptures the senses: first one is attracted by the multi-coloured topping, and then one’s palate is won over by the contrasting textures: a soft and buttery base (lard was once used instead of butter), and a crisp meringue as a festive decoration. It is suitable for breakfast or a snack accompanied by a light tea, but is also perfect as a dessert, in this case perhaps accompanied by nice glass of wine. Ciaramicola is easy to make and the only real difficulty is that of making sure your egg whites are properly beaten - they must be very firm so as not to fall off the cake when added as a covering! The classic decoration of coloured sprinkles, and the unusual colour of the dough, make it perfect for a party.


  • plain flour 500 grams
  • egg yolks 3 units
  • butter 120 grams Of which 100g for the cake and 20g for greasing the mould
  • sugar 250 grams
  • lemon ½ a lemon
  • liqueur 1 glass of alchermes liqueur
  • egg white 2 units
  • baking powder 15g of baking powder
  • sugared almond Coloured
40 minutes Total time
20 minutes Active time
Serves 4 persons
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Put the flour, the egg yolks, lemon zest, sugar and 100g of soft butter cut into small pieces into a bowl. Mix thoroughly, then add 1 cup of alchermes liqueur and the baking powder to form a smooth paste in the shape of a doughnut. Put it in a greased and floured mould. Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes. When almost cooked, cover it with the beaten egg whites and put it back in the oven for 2 minutes. Serve cold, sprinkled with sugared almonds.

When adding the lemon zest, make sure you use an untreated lemon, wash it well and grate only the yellow part of the peel, avoiding the pith or the white part which is particularly bitter.
The name seems to derive from the Italian word ‘ciaramella’ – a historic woodwind instrument - which evokes the circular shape of the cake. The colourful sugared almonds with which the cake is garnished represent good luck. It is said that in ancient times the girls made ‘ciaramicola’ at Easter with the colours of the city of Perugia (white and red) so as to remind them of their boyfriends in the city's neighbourhoods.

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