Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake, or Ciambella, 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. It’s an ideal bake for a brunch or luncheon.
Reader Rave ~
“It is the 3rd time I’ve baked this cake, and it only makes me bake more! It is really the best cake ever to dip in coffee, call it “continental breakfast in style” and …..have a second slice! Thank you, Sue!” ~Alexandra
lemon yogurt cake is a breakfast treat
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.
simple ingredients you’ll probably have in your kitchen
- full fat yogurt ~ yogurt makes a cake moist and tender.
- lemons ~ you’ll use the juice and the all important zest.
- vegetable oil ~ I choose a mild one like canola, but the Italians will sometimes use olive oil.
- baking powder, salt
This Italian style lemon pound cake is a nice change from the oil soaked coffee shop lemon pound cakes, and there’s something very elegant and not at all decadent about this recipe. 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.
Why do I serve this lemon bundt cake rough side up?
Most bundt cakes are removed from the pan and served with the smooth, rounded side up. I prefer the rough side for a couple of reasons: the texture is not only pretty, it catches the powdered sugar nicely. If I choose to add a glaze or syrup to the cake, it will sink into the craggy surface easily, too. It’s the way the Italians serve it.
Tips for baking 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.
Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake
- standard 10-12 cup bundt cake
- 2 cups (or 250 grams) all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 cups (or 157 grams) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) full fat yogurt
- zest from 1 or 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh squeezed lemon juice zest your lemon before juicing!
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Butter and flour a standard 9 inch bundt pan.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
- Beat the eggs for 2 minutes until pale and thick. Gradually beat in the sugar.
- Blend in the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well.
- Fold in the dry ingredients and mix just until completely blended.
- 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.
- 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.
notes and variations
- You can substitute sour cream for the yogurt.
- Use melted butter in place of vegetable oil.
- 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.