Lemon Yogurt Breakfast Cake (Ciambella)

A piece of cake covered in sugar

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.

Lemon yogurt breakfast cake sliced on waxed paper

“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.

lemon yogurt breakfast cake sliced

simple ingredients you’ll probably have in your kitchen

  • eggs
  • sugar
  • 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.
  • flour
  • 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.

lemon yogurt breakfast bundt cake with slice taken

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.

Lemon breakfast cake batter in a bundt pan

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 breakfast cake sliced

tvfgi recommends: a great basic bundt pan


Bundt pans come in all sorts of wonderful shapes and sizes, which is great, except that you never know how your pan is going to work with a specific recipe. I like to use this one from Wilton which is a basic, all purpose pan that’s sturdy, nonstick, and a standard size. The simple fluted shape insures an easy release, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

lemon yogurt cake with lemons
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3.84 from 306 votes

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.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Calories 263kcal
Author Sue Moran

Equipment

  • standard 10-12 cup bundt cake

Ingredients

dry ingredients

  • 2 cups (or 250 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

wet ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Cook’s notes

  • 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.
*recipe lightly adapted from She Loves Biscotti

Nutrition

Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 55IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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137 Comments

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  • Reply
    Donna
    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
      Sue
      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
      Birdie
      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
    2pots2cook
    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
    Marissa
    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
      Sue
      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
    [email protected]'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
      Sue
      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
      Sue
      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
    Maria
    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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