We are three siblings, born from Italian parents who immigrated to South Africa in the late sixties. We grew up in Johannesburg, in Orange Grove, the cosmopolitan neighbourhood once known as “Little Italy”, but there were families of all nationalities living in this colourful area.

We had a wonderful childhood with scores of multi-national friends running wild and free in the streets, parks and on the ridge which towers over the suburb. We would leave home in the early morning, either school bound or destined for great adventures in the area with our tribe of friends, returning only when our tummies grumbled or when our mother yelled that it was time for “Merenda”, the Italian word for a snack. Another Italian excuse for food.

The inevitable presence of Nutella for Merenda, filled us with anticipation and caused us to have many tag-along buddies wanting to share in the feast. Our mother would serve it between thick slices of her home made bread, or layered richly as a filling on top of her famous Crostata (a tart which all her Grand kids still get to enjoy). Best of all was when she mixed it in a Ciambellone – a delicious ring cake once found in every Italian household and still very much present in mine! It’s literally a sponge cake baked in a ring form and eaten for breakfast or as a snack – Merenda. Sometimes I make it plain or I add Citrus but my family’s favorite is when I add Nutella to the mixture.

I’ve battled with this version for years – trying to keep the Nutella as a rich filling in the midlde of the cake rather than having it sink to the bottom of the ring tin. A couple of weeks ago, when my youngest son Matheo turned 17, he begged me to make him a Nutella Ciambellone as his birthday cake, challenging me to get the Nutella to sit in the middle of the cake.

Finally, I cracked the code and found a winning method which I’ll share with you in the recipe below. The strange thing is that my moment of victory, which I proudly claimed over all who partook in the feast, was overshadowed by the beauty of the Corinne de Haas platter on which I presented the cake. The cake was delicious but the Black clay over sized  platter is sensational and I am going to use it over and over again to show off many culinary delights when I feed my tribe.


  • 270gr Cake Flour
  • 30gr Maizena Corn Flour
  • 170gr Sugar
  • Large  Free Range Eggs
  • 90ml Oil – Canola or Sunflower)
  • 75ml Warm Milk (Not hot)
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder (about 8gr)
  • Vanilla
  • 100gr Nutella®
  • Icing Sugar


  1. Butter then lightly flower a 22cm spring-form ring cake tin – set aside
  2. sift together all the dry ingredients
  3. Beat sugar and eggs until light and creamy. Beat for at least 10 minutes at a high speed.
  4. Gently add the oil in a thin, continuous stream while still mixing. Then add the warm milk
  5. Add all the sifted dry ingredients in small batches, mixing between additions on low speed just enough to combine ingredients
  6. Pour half the batter into the baking tin and bake at 180° for 20 minutes
  7. When the 20minutes are up, remove the baking tin from the oven and spoon in the Nutella in a continuous ring, trying to keep to the center of the cake . Then pour over the remainder of your batter and return to the oven for a further 20-25 minutes. The Ciambellone should have a uniform golden colour
  8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the baking tin. Let it cool completely before giving it a very generous dusting of icing sugar and styling it on your gorgeous platter by @dehaascorinne acquired from @firehousegifts
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