November 25, 2013
2 Ratings
  • Serves 10
Author Notes

With its characteristic snail shell-shape, the gubana is a traditional holiday treat from the very north-eastern corner of Italy in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and is especially famous in the area of the town of Udine. Considering that this sliver of Italy lies along the border of Slovenia, it's not surprising that this cake has more similiarities with cousins in Croatia and Slovenia than any cakes or sweet breads in other Italian regions.

Take Slovenian Potica or Croatian Povitica for example – yeasted dough is stretched paper thin (much thinner than the gubana's dough), then covered with a sweet paste made predominately from walnuts before being rolled into a log or a ring and baked.

This filling is a long list of ingredients that includes four types of nuts, raisins, cookies (or in some recipes, breadcrumbs), sweet wine, sugar and cocoa. In some cases, rum or grappa, honey and candied cedro also make an appearance. You'll only need a thin slice of this rich, satisfying treat to get you in the festive mood.

This recipe is adapted from Italian pastry chef, Luca Montersino's recipe for Gubana. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • For the dough:
  • 5 cups (600 grams) bakers/strong/bread flour
  • 10 ounces (300 grams) cold milk
  • 1 cup (180 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 ounce (15 grams) fresh yeast
  • 1 egg, plus 1 extra egg yolk
  • 5 1/2 ounces (160 grams) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of one lemon and one orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped of seeds
  • For the filling:
  • 8 ounces (220 grams) raisins
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) peeled almonds
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) walnuts
  • 1.5 ounces (40 grams) hazelnuts
  • 1 ounce (30 grams) pinenuts
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) moscato, marsala or other sweet wine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 ounces (40 grams) butter
  • 4 ounces 120 grams plain cookies (such as graham crackers), crushed
  • 1 1/2 ounces (50 grams) candied orange peel, chopped
  • 1 1/2 ounces (50 grams) amaretti cookies, crushed
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) bittersweet cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. For the dough:
  2. In a mixer, combine the flour, milk, sugar and yeast. Add the egg plus yolk and the butter, a little at a time until well incorporated. Add the rest of the dough ingredients and continue mixing until you have an elastic (but not dry) dough.
  3. Set aside until the filling (below) is ready.
  1. For the filling:
  2. Lightly toast then roughly chop the almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor until you have a thick paste.
  3. Roll the dough to a rectangular form until it is no higher than 1/2-1cm (about 1/4-1/2 inch) thick. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving an inch border around. Roll the dough up along the longest edge (see photo) into a log. Then roll the log around itself like a snail shell shape and place in a lined round tin. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour.
  4. Brush with egg over the top if desired then bake at 350 F for 40-60 minutes or until dark golden on top and inside is fluffy and cooked.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Diana
  • Lee Lindenlaub
    Lee Lindenlaub
  • Giulia Mulè
    Giulia Mulè
  • Regine
  • Valentina Solfrini
    Valentina Solfrini

29 Reviews

Diana October 4, 2016
Can you freeze this?
Yazoolulu December 31, 2014
I made two of these for Christmas morning. One I filled according to recipe, and the other I filled with an orange fig mixture. I put one in a 10 inch springform pan and the other in a larger ceramic casserole dish. I let them both rise overnight and baked them in the morning. Very good-well received by everyone.
Lee L. December 18, 2014
how large should the round tin be?
lena16 June 5, 2014
The amount of sugar in the dough (180 g) seems to be quite high. Is it correct? Thanks for the recipe.
Emiko June 5, 2014
Absolutely correct! ;)
Giulia M. January 1, 2014
Thanks for sharing this recipe, Emiko! I used it to make a Gubana for Christmas and my grandma (who is from Trieste) loved it (after pouring some Grappa over her slice though!)
I had some issues with the baking time: I baked the cake for 60' until dark golden, but the inside was still wet and the inside dough was uncooked. I baked it a further 20' until the outside became too dark and crunchy. Should I have baked it for less time but at a higher temperature perhaps?
Emiko January 1, 2014
Ha, so glad it got your grandma's approval! Of course with grappa! For the baking time, an uncooked middle and too dark/burnt on top usually means the cake tin is too small. So a larger tin would hopefully do the trick, then use a skewer to test how the middle is going after 1 hour, and if it still needs a little more time then give it a bit more time but I wouldn't go higher temperature as the top will tend to go very dark. Thanks for the feedback!
Paula R. December 21, 2013
Emiko - The original recipe just says " Let Rise", so the advice to let it double in size is necessarily helpful. For those of us who need to plan ahead for cooking timeframe it would be most helpful to have a benchmark range for rise time - an hour, 1-2 hours, four days? - before we start to make the recipe. Thank you for your consideration.
Emiko December 21, 2013
Hello again Paula. Sorry but I don't have an exact timeframe for that as it depends on the conditions in your kitchen - if you let it rise above the oven, while the oven's on (perhaps you're cooking something else in there) it will rise quicker than if you leave it in the fridge, overnight, say to bake the next day - both are ok. But let's say in an average 68 degree room, you may want to let it rise about an hour (though this may not necessarily mean it's doubled in size!). While other recipes will say to double in size, in my recipe I found letting it rise just a little is sufficient. I hope this has helped you!
taryn December 18, 2013
Is there a rule of thumb for substituting instant yeast for fresh yeast?
Emiko December 19, 2013
There is! This article has it all:
Paula R. December 18, 2013
It would really be helpful if you would give an approximate time frame for rise. Also suggest that you amend the recipe to note that cake should rise " to double in size".
Emiko December 19, 2013
Thanks for the suggestion Paula! The fact is that timing can differ depending on the conditions in the kitchen (i.e. how warm it is, if there is a draft) so I don't use a time. While the traditional recipe says to wait for it to double in size, when I made the cake that you see in the photos, it hadn't actually doubled in size completely when I baked it! So it could even be fluffier if you wanted (the result is a thicker layer of bread as it rises) but I think it's sufficient to "let it rise". Perhaps you can be more specific about the problems you had in baking this cake as there are many other areas of troubleshooting and it may not have been how long you let the cake rise for?
Paula R. December 18, 2013
Made this recipe last week. Didn't look like product in pics on this site. What is recommended rise time once filling is rolled in dough?
Emiko December 18, 2013
Sorry to hear you had trouble. Once your gubana is rolled and in tin, you should let it rise until it's doubled in size (however long that takes in your kitchen conditions!).
Trudie S. December 14, 2013
Is it possible to use instant yeast in this recipe, or will it compromise the flavour?
Emiko December 14, 2013
I wouldn't recommend instant yeast only because you want to prove the dough when it's been filled and rolled and instant yeast won't do this. But you could easily substitute active dry yeast. Take a look at this article for how to convert ratios between the different yeasts:
Trudie S. December 15, 2013
Thanks so much, great article! I look forward to making this :)
Regine November 27, 2013
Thanks Emiko and Valentina. I do have strong bread flour. And do try to make a Pandoro once. I know it is no easy task though. I once used the recipe from the "Sorelle Simili," and it turned out fairly good for a first timer like me.
Richard November 27, 2013
Roll dough half an inch (1/2-1 inch) thick - shouldn't it be much thinner than that?
Emiko November 27, 2013
Thanks for double checking - it should be 1/2-1 cm thick (see photos for an idea). Not too thin though (unlike similar pastries such as Potica, which is stretched paper thin)!
Valentina S. November 26, 2013
You're a genius for posting this recipe!

I am Italian, but I had no idea this existed until the son of my boss, who lives in Trieste, brought one down for the holidays. It is really, really good, and I have been thinking of making it for a while now.
It will be the perfect side to my Panettone or Pandoro, so we'll have a delicious backup in case those two fail (which is likely).

Thank you for spreading Italian culture with our real, wonderful and traditional recipes, Emiko!
Emiko November 26, 2013
Thanks so much for your comment Valentina, it's SO good, isn't it? It makes my day that someone gets why these regional recipes are my passion! :)
Regine November 26, 2013
Is Baker's flour the equivalent of all purpose flour? Also, would you consider one day making and presenting a good recipe for Pandoro, the no fruit version of Panettone. I love Pandoro and made it once, but it does require a lot of patience.
Valentina S. November 26, 2013
It is not necessarily an equivalent. Bread flour has a very high gluten content, and it is necessary for reparations that need a long fermentation time. The longer the fermentation, the higher the gluten content in the flour must be. There are some very high gluten AP flours, but, unless you can check the strength number on the package (should be over 300W) I'd go and get myself some bread flour. You should easily find it in any supermarket :)
Emiko November 26, 2013
Baker's flour is also known as strong flour or bread flour, it's a high protein flour with more gluten in it (making the dough more elastic than regular plain flour). If you can find flour that's meant for baking bread, pizza etc, that's the one! I have also heard adding cornstarch to regular flour works too. Pandoro? Hm, yes, I'll take it on board! Might have to wait till next christmas but will test a few recipes in the meantime! ;)
Emiko November 26, 2013
Oh and the elasticity is important here as you need to be able to roll the dough first into a log and then roll it around itself like a snail shell without breaking!
susan G. November 25, 2013
Just beautiful!
Emiko November 26, 2013
Thanks Susan!