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
    Mittenhead
    March 30, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    5 stars
    This is such a good recipe that the second time I made it, I got a little wild and crazy, adding a handful of poppyseeds and a blast of Limoncello. Even better, if that’s possible! So moist and flavorful.

  • Reply
    Mary
    March 28, 2021 at 10:43 am

    5 stars
    While the Glazed Old Fashioned Buttermilk Doughnut Bundt Cake was my chocoholic husband’s surprising new favorite dessert (surprising only because it isn’t chocolate!), this one is mine. He said it was too lemony (did I really sneak an extra lemon and zest into it? Don’t tell him that!) but it was a masterpiece, and I am calling it my Lemonade Cake from now on, because that is exactly what it tasted like! The sugar content was spot on – it was still “cake” to me and while I have eaten it for dessert and even at 10:00 in the morning so far, I haven’t had it for breakfast yet and that is as good a reason as any to make another one pronto. I never knew I could flip for lemon anything until now!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 28, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks so much Mary, you do need to make another, just to confirm it’s ‘breakfast’ worthy 😉

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    March 23, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    Sue, here I am again! Yes, I baked this wonderful cake once more! This time I used goat’s milk yogurt and love that little extra tartness. Ciambella for ever-!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 23, 2021 at 1:15 pm

      Haha, so glad you love this Alexandra ~ goats milk yogurt sounds wonderful, and I think Trader Joe’s sells that here in the US!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 24, 2021 at 7:44 am

      🙂

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    March 20, 2021 at 6:29 am

    Have you ever tried making this with almond or coconut flour? Do you think it would turn out okay??

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 20, 2021 at 6:44 am

      Coconut flour is tricky to bake with because it’s super absorbent and you’d have to alter the recipe quite a bit. You might experiment with subbing some of the regular flour with almond flour for a good result.

  • Reply
    Kelly
    March 6, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    What about adding fresh blueberries ? to the mix?

  • Reply
    MARLENE WILKINS
    February 17, 2021 at 3:12 am

    I have been reading your replies and decided to make the cake based on them. It looks great and love lemon like everybody. Well make some of the changes listed as well. Thank you for this tasty cake. Looking forward to it. Thank you very much Sue. Marlene

  • Reply
    Ana
    January 23, 2021 at 11:39 am

    5 stars
    Became an instant favorite. I subbed 2 cups of oat flour and used coconut-milk based yogurt for my gluten and dairy free mum. Turned out perfect!

  • Reply
    Khadija Love
    December 11, 2020 at 5:59 am

    5 stars
    Hii i just made the cake today and it was fabulous i loved it

  • Reply
    Khadija Love
    December 10, 2020 at 5:47 am

    5 stars
    Hii im just baking this cake right now cant wait for it to finish i dig right in

  • Reply
    mobasir hassan
    October 27, 2020 at 9:25 am

    5 stars
    I truly appreciate the way you made the recipe.

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