Gubana: A Winter Cake for Raisin and Nuts Lovers

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The Gubana is a leavened dough cake originally from the Natisone Valleys, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Italy).

Called Gubane in the local dialect, this dessert is typical of the Christmas period. However, thanks to industrial production, it is nowadays available all year round at the supermarket.

Of very ancient origins, we hear about the Gubana for the first time during a banquet in honor of Pope Gregory XII.

The name seems to be linked to the word “guba” which in the Slavic language means “fold,” referring to the folded shape typical of the dessert. But it is not the only possibility; in fact, “guban” is also the name of the porcini mushroom whose cake resembles their cap’s shape.

The Gubana, with its ancient and mysterious history, is still today a little known dessert outside the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.


Makes: 6 servings
Time: 24 hours rest — 2 hours preparation

Ingredients for the dough

  • 250 g flour
  • 50 g sugar
  • 70 g butter
  • 30 g honey
  • 50 g milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 10 g brewer’s yeast
  • 2 g salt

Ingredients for the filling

  • 150 g walnut
  • 50 g pine nut
  • 40 g amaretto biscuits
  • 30 g of dry biscuits
  • 100 g raisin
  • 50 g sugar
  • 30 g butter
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Marsala
  • Grappa
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Candied citron (optional)

Ingredients for the top

  • 1 egg white
  • Granulated sugar


Start preparing the filling by soaking the raisin into the Marsala.

In a pan, caramelize half the sugar with a tablespoon of water, add 50 grams of walnuts and mix quickly for a few seconds. Remove the mixture, pour it into a bowl brushed with butter or oil, and let it cool.

Brown the pine nuts in the butter on a low flame, transfer, and let them cool.

Chop the amaretto biscuits, the dry biscuits, the caramelized walnuts, and the remaining not caramelized walnuts.

Put everything in a large bowl, add the well-squeezed raisins, and the browned pine nuts with butter, the grated lemon zest, the salt, the cinnamon, the rest of the sugar, and the optional candied citron finely chopped.

Sprinkle the mix with the necessary amount of Grappa and Marsala. Stir well until it’s moist enough. Let it rest in a cool place for the next 24 hours.

The next day, put in a large bowl 180 g of flour, the yeast, a spoon of sugar and start mixing while adding the warm milk a little bit at a time.

Add the egg, the egg yolk, and a pinch of salt. Knead until it becomes a smooth and soft dough. Give it a round shape, cover with cling film, and let it rest for about one hour.

After one hour, add the butter, the remaining flour, and sugar. Knead energetically until smooth again. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

When the dough is ready, roll it out in a rectangular shape of about 20 x 30 cm.

Spread the filling equally on top of it and add some whirl of soft butter. Roll it up, close the two ends properly and stretch it until it reaches about 70–80 centimeters.

Take the right end, lift it, and fold it inside. Then gently wrap the remaining part of the roll all around except the last flap that will join the first one under the cake.

Put the Gubana gently into a buttered 20 cm mold, and let it rise until it has doubled in volume.

Brush the cake surface with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle it with granulated sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160° C for about 1 hour.

Remove and let cool before serving cut into slices.

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