Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake (Ciambella)

Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake, or Ciambella ~ this is a classic Italian style lemon bundt cake with lots of lemony flavor and a delicate crumb.  Pair it with a good cup of coffee and you’ve got the start to a great day.

Not to be confused with dessert, this gorgeous cake is a classic Italian style breakfast cake.  It’s not overly sweet, with a subtle lemon flavor,  just like it would be served in Italy.   The cake is soft and pillowy, and the lemony flavor shines through beautifully, ~ it just begs for a perfect cup of espresso to go along with.   A little jam, lemon curd, or a nice dunk in your coffee wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  I’m convinced this is what breakfast was meant to be.

lemon yogurt breakfast cake sliced

This Italian style lemon pound cake is a nice change from the oil soaked coffee shop lemon pound cakes.   Honestly, I never met a lemon cake I didn’t love, and I’ll take it any way I can get it, so there’s room for both in my world :)  But there’s something very elegant and not at all decadent about this simple cake.  The flavors of Italian ciambelle are as varied as bundt cakes here in the US, but citrus is one of the favorites.  This recipe includes fresh lemon juice as well as zest, and definitely don’t skip the zest, it may seem like a small addition, but the flavor impact is huge.  The oils in the peel hold most of the lemon’s flavor.

This cake is baked in a regular bundt pan, and I serve it baked side up so the pretty texture shows.  It catches the powdered sugar nicely, and looks prettier that way.  It’s an ideal bake for a brunch or luncheon, book group, pot luck, or office party.

Tips for baking the perfect Ciambella, or Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake ~

  • Invest in a good sturdy nonstick bundt pan, they aren’t expensive.  I like Nordic Ware, they’ve been around for ages.  You can also use a traditional ring shaped pan for a more authentic look.
  • Whatever pan you choose, you must butter it well, getting in all the nooks and crannies, and then dust with flour, shaking off the excess.  It really makes a difference.  I find cooking spray does not give the same results so I always butter and flour.
  • For the best texture, beat your eggs well.  The air you beat into them helps the cake rise.  I used my stand mixer with the whisk attachment to mix this cake.
  • Once you add your dry ingredient, don’t over mix, blend just until everything is combined.
  • Check your cake on the early side, because you don’t want to over cook.
  • Let your cooked cake cool for about 10 minutes, then loosen around the edges with a thin spreading knife before flipping over.
  • If you’re yearning for a moister cake, I’d recommend adding a glaze to the top while it’s still warm.  The glaze will sink in and add lots of moisture, as well as an intense hit of lemon.  I’ve added instructions below.  I like it both ways.

*recipe lightly adapted from She Loves Biscotti

Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake

Category: breakfast, snack, dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Yield: serves 10-12

Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake


    dry ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
    wet ingredients
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup full fat yogurt
  • zest from 1 or 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (zest your lemon before juicing!)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Butter and flour and bundt pan.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs for 2 minutes until pale and thick. Gradually beat in the sugar.
  5. Blend in the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well.
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix just until completely blended.
  7. Turn the batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it. Don't over bake.
  8. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out. I like to flip it over so the rough edge faces up. Let cool completely before dusting with sugar.

Make this lemon yogurt breakfast cake your own ~

  • Want to make this cake into a super decadent experience?  Serve it with some HOMEMADE CLOTTED CREAM.
  • Add a lemon syrup ~ If you’d like to add extra lemon flavor, plus moisture to this cake, made a lemon syrup to pour over the warm cake: heat 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Let cool.  After you have removed the cake from the pan, poke holes all over the top with a skewer.  Spoon the syrup over the top, letting it sink into the holes.
  • Add a lemon glaze ~ Mix 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with enough fresh lemon juice to make a spreadable glaze.  Drizzle or spread over the cooled cake.
  • You can use milk, cream, or buttermilk in place of the yogurt.
  • For an authentic Italian flavor try using olive oil (pure, not extra virgin) for the vegetable oil.


don’t forget to pin this Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake

Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake, or Ciambella ~ this is a classic Italian style lemon bundt cake with lots of lemony flavor and a delicate crumb.  Pair it with a good cup of coffee and you've got the start to a great day. #cake #lemoncake #italiancake #breakfast #coffeecake #bundtcake #dessert #teacake #afternoontea #snackcake #ciambella #ringcake #citrus #Meyerlemon #lemondessert


  • Reply
    April 22, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Hi Sue!!
    How can I adjust the recipe if I want to make gluten free version?
    Thank you so much


    • Reply
      April 22, 2018 at 8:27 am

      Hey Sylvia ~ I can’t say for sure because I haven’t tried it, but I would try a good gluten free baking mix like Bob’s Red Mill and just replace the flour. I don’t think any other adjustments would be necessary.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    April 9, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    This breakfast cake was really good and super easy, thanks for the recipe. I made one for my family’s Easter morning and I have one in the oven now to carry to work tomorrow. I made the first one with the lemon syrup and it was good but the first bite was a big hit of lemon, for the second one I am going with the plain cake.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      Great to hear this Pam ~ especially since you tried both ways. I’m impressed that you’ve already made it twice!

  • Reply
    Cyndi B
    April 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    This cake was amazing! Notice I said “was”. Could not stop eating this! The absolute perfect crumb. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Thanks Cyndi!

  • Reply
    Jeff the Chef
    April 7, 2018 at 8:07 am

    You had me at breakfast cake.

    • Reply
      April 7, 2018 at 8:35 am

      totally. :)

  • Reply
    April 6, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks so much for another great recipe Sue! This was absolutely delicious! I used half and half instead of yogurt because I wanted to use it up. I also raised the lemon juice to 1/3 Cup and lowered the sugar to 1/2cup. I used grapeseed oil instead of canola because it’s healthier and has no flavor. The cake was was moist and light and so easy to make! Thanks again Sue!

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    April 4, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    You know breakfast cakes are my kind of cake! :) This is lovely!

  • Reply
    April 4, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Sue, I only have extra virgin olive oil, would that be ok to use? The cake looks delicious!!

    • Reply
      April 4, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      It’s going to be a matter of taste, Donna, and I think extra virgin olive oil would not be so great in this cake, the flavor will come through pretty strong. You can try, of course, and please report back!

      • Reply
        April 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm

        Hi Sue…you were sooo right, I tried with the extra virgin olive oil and it was way to powerful! Will by regular olive oil and will definitely make it again! Thanks so much for getting back to me.

        • Reply
          April 4, 2018 at 8:15 pm

          I would actually recommend a milder vegetable oil like safflower or canola, Donna, unless you really want the olive oil for some reason. Hope you try it again :)

  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Hi Sue, earlier today I followed your recipe and the cake came out wonderful, just as shown in your pictures! It tastes so good! I got a slap on my hand when reached for the third slice. And it was only afternoon tea…..thank you, Sue…

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    I sent this recipe to my lemon loving sister..she made it today and said it was delicious..she used lemon yogurt too! Can’t wait to make this!
    Happy Easter Bunny!

    • Reply
      March 31, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      I’m thrilled that she made it so quickly and loved it, thanks for letting me know Birdie :)

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Hi Sue-

    Thank you for posting this recipe. It looks amazing! I was wondering if a full-fat lemon yogurt (like Oui) could be used or if that would be too intense. Also, I just read your bio. I live in Dover, NH, so we were practically neighbors! You definitely missed out on a snowy New England winter this year! Hope you and your family have a lovely Easter.


  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Hi Sue-

    Thank you for this recipe, it looks amazing! I was wondering if using a full-fat lemon yogurt (like Oui) would be too intense. Also, I just read your bio. I live in Dover, NH, so it turn’s out we were practically neighbors! You really missed a snowy winter this year! Hope you have a lovely Easter:) Donna

    • Reply
      March 31, 2018 at 11:58 am

      Hey Donna, nice to meet you! I think the lemon yogurt should be fine, as long as the flavor is good to begin with. I’m jealous of all your snow, I aim to get back to your neck of the woods to live someday :)

    • Reply
      March 31, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Hi Donna!
      My sister just made this cake today and she used full fat lemon yogurt..She said it is delicious!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 1:36 am

    Slice of bread with coffee before I start running through the day ? Yes, please ! Thank you and enjoy the holidays !

  • Reply
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    March 30, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    This cake is so beautiful that I expected the recipe to have a huge list of ingredients, not so! I love recipes like this that have such a payoff without a huge effort. And I’m all about cakes that are lemony and not too sweet, this one’s perfection!

    • Reply
      March 30, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      I agree with you Marissa, my cooking style is as minimal as I can get it, most of the time.

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    March 30, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    This would be perfect with my morning coffee Sue. I never pass up a lemony cake!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    March 30, 2018 at 11:42 am

    You know I love this cake! I bet it tastes amazing and love the addition of yogurt :) Great weekend treat!

  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's Recipes
    March 30, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Cake for breakfast is always great :-) This lemon yoghurt cake looks amazing, Sue.

  • Reply
    Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
    March 30, 2018 at 10:02 am

    I’ve had a lemon bundt cake, but never a Ciambella! I have been missing out, because this looks absolutely amazing! And, can you really beat having cake for breakfast? I think not! I can’t wait to try this! Pinned! Cheers!

    • Reply
      March 30, 2018 at 10:12 am

      No, you’re right, cake for breakfast is epic.

  • Reply
    Tami L Gifford
    March 30, 2018 at 8:39 am

    What size bundt pan is best?

    • Reply
      March 30, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Hi Tami ~ I used a standard 10 cup capacity, but this is a smaller bundt cake, so it won’t fill the pan.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    March 30, 2018 at 8:21 am

    I love the wonderful moistness of yogurt cakes and I love the name ciambella! It sounds so exotic for such a simple and beautiful cake!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Hi Sue, I love how you adapted my mom’s simple recipe for ciambella. I can confirm that growing up “italian” meant I was exposed to so many variations as every family had their own version of this wonderful simple cake. It really is perfect to have with a cup of coffee (or espresso ;) ) any time of the day. Can’t wait to try your version.
    Thanks so much for sharing ?

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