The “‘ngiambella di San Cataldo” (San Cataldo ciambella) is a sweet biscuit that is typical of the municipality San Cataldo, located in the former province of Caltanissetta.
The biscuit has an ellipsoidal shape, it is around 10-15 centimetres in size and has a shiny crust which is due to the surface of the dough being covered with egg whites during the cooking process.
In order to prepare the ciambella according to the traditional recipe, which is handed down from generation to generation, it is a requirement to use an antique Sicilian wheat variety, the Maiorca, along with caster sugar and eggs, which are traditionally weighed in the shell.
Using a spoon, the dough that is made is spread in a tray, this is done so as to obtain the characteristic shape. It is then cooked in the oven.
The stories of the elderly of San Cataldo trace the origin of this sweet back to between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In particular, it is said that the ‘ngiambella was prepared in the 1930s by Dolceria lacolina, in San Cataldo, who already at that time, followed their grandma’s recipe.
Traditionally, even if the habit has not been lost, the ‘ngiambelle were given to people recovering from illnesses. Furthermore, they were given to newlyweds after their wedding or given to relatives who had moved elsewhere, so that they could enjoy them on their trip home from San Cataldo.
Today the San Cataldo Ciambella represents the ideal sweet for breakfast, or for an afternoon snack, accompanied by a Sicilian passito wine or a lemon granita.
Even though this product is actually widely available, there are only a few producers which follow the artisanal method. It is very common to find now that 00’ refined flour is used instead of the Maiorca, which was commonly used in Sicily until the end of the second world war and is a fundamental part of the traditional recipe.
The research activities necessary for the reporting of this product in the Ark of Taste online catalogue were financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility – notice n° 1/2018 “Slow Food in action: communities protagonists of change”, pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017.