Each is made by rolling up a filling in a dough that is then coiled in a pan so that when the finished cake is cut, you see an attractive spiral pattern of filling in each slice. I once went on a Gubana pilgrimage and ended the day with a visit to Cividale del Friuli, an old Roman town in the Natisone Valleys, the epicenter of gubana’s homeland. A visit to Gubana Vogrig and a talk with Lucio Vogrig, the bakery’s owner, gave me all the information I needed to attempt a version of gubana, later published in my Italian dessert book in 1990. Just a couple of years ago, a client who has an Italian bakery asked me to show his staff some recipes, and gubana was among them.
I hadn’t made one in years, and when I did a few weeks before traveling to the bakery, I wasn’t satisfied with the texture of the dough. I made a few adjustments, but it didn’t seem to be improving noticeably until I decided to use a variation of brioche dough—the result was excellent.
Makes one 9- or 10-inch cake, about 12 generous servings
FOR THE SPONGE
1/2 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm, about 100˚F
2 1/4 teaspoons fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
3/4 cup unbleached bread flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
FOR THE DOUGH
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
1/2 cup/110 grams sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
All the sponge, above
2 1/4 cups/300 grams unbleached bread flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
1/2 teaspoon/3 grams fine sea salt
8 tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, softened
FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
3/4 cup candied orange peel, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 cups walnut pieces, lightly toasted and finely chopped but not ground
1 large egg, lightly beaten
One 9-inch round, 3-inch deep cake or spring form pan, buttered and lined with a disk of parchment paper
FOR THE SPONGE
Whisk the milk and yeast together in a small bowl. Wait 30 seconds and whisk again. Use a small rubber spatula to stir in the flour. Cover with oiled or sprayed plastic wrap and let ferment until more than doubled in size, about 1 hour.
FOR THE DOUGH
Whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest by hand in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the sponge.
Attach the dough hook and add the flour and salt. Mix until smooth on lowest speed. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Mix on low-medium speed until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl, then beat in the butter a little at a time. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Flour a cookie sheet and place the dough on it. Flour the dough and press it out flat to about 8 x 12 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
FOR THE FILLING
Place the raisins in a small pan, add water to cover, then bring to a boil. Drain and transfer to a large bowl with the orange peel and add the rum. Scatter the brown sugar on top.
In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter and cook the breadcrumbs in it over low heat until they are golden, then add to the filling. Add the nuts and egg and fold the filling together until evenly sticky. Let cool.
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
Invert the dough to a floured work surface and roll it to a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin. Beginning from a wide end, roll up the dough and filling. Form the dough into a loose spiral and drop into the pan, leaving room between the curves for the dough to grow while it’s rising. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the gubana proof until there are no longer any gaps in the dough, about 1 hour, but possibly longer.
About 30 minutes into the proofing, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325˚F.
Bake the Gubana until well risen and deep golden, with an internal temperature of 200˚F, 65 to 75 minutes.
Place the pan on a rack and cover the gubana with foil and a slightly damp towel so that it cools slowly. Unmold when cooled. Wrap and serve the day after it’s baked.
This recipe is featured on show 2407 - Gubana and Colomba. It comes to us from Chef Nick Malgieri.
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