Recipes

ciambellone, an italian tea cake

A ciambellone is a simple, sunny Italian tea cake with lemon zest and a rich crumb typically baked in a tube pan, which gives it a torus shape, i.e. the appearance of a doughnut, which is, in fact, what Google Translate tells me is the translation of ciambellone. As I can never resist the siren call of either an everyday cake or a doughnut, I am unequivocally here for this.


lemon zest
sift

When someone told me last month the version at Caffe Marchio — which is described as a “rich, Italian-style bundt with a lemon glaze” — is one of her favorite cakes, and even found the recipe on the internet for me (subtle hint, there), my first thought was: but wait I already have a lemon cake that I know and love. Ina Garten’s assertively lemony lemon pound cake is a Top 5-level cake classic; you bring it to housewarmings, as host gifts, to teachers; everyone loves it. So, I broke the recipes out into proportions and found that the Caffe Marchio version uses oil instead of butter, more of it, a bit more sugar too, a combination of mascarpone and yogurt instead of buttermilk, and a lot less lemon. Why should I make a more rich, more sweet, and more mildly flavored cake than one I already like, you might ask? I mean, I did. So, I made them both, fully doubting that there was anything new worth needing to know in the land of citrusy tube cakes, and the ciambellone stopped me in my tracks.

in a donut-y panciambellone, still a bit too much for pan
ready to bakeciambellone, seriously overfilled

It has a glorious, indescribably perfect crust, yes, crust. Even when I overbaked it, it was still one of the best parts of the cake, second only to the lush, plush crumb within that not the tiniest bit dry, no basting of simple syrup required. Rather than having to wait that impossible wait for it to fully cool to glaze it, you slather on a more glossy one when the cake is piping that sets into a finish that looks exactly like a glazed donut. How did I resist putting sprinkles on top of something called a doughnut? I don’t know, either, but I trust you’ll do the right thing.

ciambellone with actually the best crust ever
ciambellone, extra donut-y

Previously

One year ago: Best Hot Fudge Sauce
Two years ago: Funnel Cake
Three years ago: Herbed Summer Squash Pasta Bake and Chocolate Chunk Granola Bars
Four years ago: Cherry Almond Dutch Baby
Five years ago: Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw
Six years ago: Triple Berry Buttermilk Bundt
Seven years ago: Blueberry Yogurt Multigrain Pancakes
Eight years ago: Strawberry Ricotta Graham Tartlets, Crushed Peas with Smoky Sesame Dressing, and Chocolate Doughnut Holes
Nine years ago: Spanikopita Triangles and Neapolitan Cake
Ten years ago: Pistachio Petit-Four Cake and Sweet Cherry Pie
Eleven years ago: Dilled Potato and Pickled Cucumber Salad

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
1.5 Years Ago: Pimento Cheese Potato Bites
2.5 Years Ago: Eggnog Waffles
3.5 Years Ago: Jelly Doughnuts and Endives with Oranges and Almonds
4.5 Years Ago: Eggnog Florentines, Linzer Torte, and Breakfast Slab Pie

Ciambellone, An Italian Tea Cake

The cake keeps for days at room temperature and goes so well with all of the berries currently in season at breakfast, for an afternoon snack, or for dessert, ours was gone at a disappearance rate usually associated sunken jammy strawberries, streuseled blueberries, and marbled bananas.

Written below is an 80% level of the cake, as I’d found the original too voluminous for some bundts. Bundts are generally 10-cup or 12-cup; the one shown here is 10-cup and the original volume nearly overflowed and took so long to bake through, the edges got too dark, although they still tasted amazing. I’ve also shown this cake in a ring pan mostly because why make it a little doughnuty if you can make it a lot, right? For this pan, I recommend a 60% level of the original cake, as it holds only 7 cups.

This recipe recommends you use a plain, not Greek-style, yogurt. If you only have Greek yogurt (like me), simply replace the last tablespoon of yogurt with water. The original recipe calls for lemon zest in the glaze but I skip it because I thought the texture would be distracting.

    Cake
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea or table salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Finely grated zest of half an orange
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (325 ml) neutral oil (such as sunflower, safflower, grapeseed or another vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (about 185 grams) plain, not Greek, yogurt (see note)
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 ml) vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar
  • Scant 2 tablespoons (30 ml) corn syrup
  • About 3 tablespoons (45 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Make cake: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat bundt or tube cake pan (check notes for size tips) with nonstick cooking spray and coat with granulated sugar. Knock out any excess sugar from pan.

Place sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl and use your fingertips to rub the zest into it. This abrasion helps release the most flavor from it. Whisk in oil, mascarpone, yogurt, and then eggs and vanilla until smooth. Sprinkle baking powder over batter and whisk it thoroughly into the batter, a good 10 turns around the bowl. Sift flour onto batter and use a rubber spatula to stir just until batter is smooth.

Drop batter in large scoopfuls equally around your cake mold, then smooth, and drop on counter a few times to ensure there are no trapped air bubbles. Bake for about 40 minutes (times will range by shape and volume of pan), checking in at the 30 minute mark to rotate the pan for even coloring, and to ensure it’s not baking faster than anticipated. Cake is done when a toothpick or tester comes out batter-free (crumbs are fine).

While the cake bakes, make the glaze: Whisk sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice together until smooth, adding the last tablespoon of juice just if needed. You want this glaze thick, thicker than your regular drizzle glaze, because we want it to stick to the sides of the cake when it’s hot.

When cake is done, let it rest on a cooling rack for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove it from the pan — yes, while piping hot. Brush glaze evenly over the top of the cake, and sides if you wish. Chef Weiss says “Use all of the glaze! Don’t be cheap.” And I listen to her. Glaze will set as cake cools.

Cake is good at room temperature for 4 days. I loosely, really loosely, cover it with foil.

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211 comments on ciambellone, an italian tea cake

    1. deb

      Sounds like a lot to me too. It’s exactly right and the resulting cake is not salty at all. It’s a big cake, that’s also why it will seem like a lot of sugar, oil, flour, etc. But it all works.

      1. Ellen N.

        I made this cake with the listed amount of fine sea salt. I’m a big fan of salt in sweets, but it was too salty for me. If I bake it again I’ll use two teaspoons of Diamond Kosher salt.

        Two guests who don’t normally like sweets thought it was delicious.

    2. JR

      I made this cake this weekend with the listed amount of table salt – it was a bit saltier than I’d have liked both as the batter and the finished cake (and I LOVE salt). This could just be the difference of table salt vs. fine sea salt, though.

      Next time around, I’ll try cutting it back to 2 tsp, which I think should be about perfect, but I’ll taste the batter as I go to be sure.

      Salt aside, this turned out great!

      For the record, I also needed about 5-7 extra minutes to reach full done-ness, but I baked in a bundt.

      1. The Lord of Misrule

        Yes, I’m going to cut back to 2 teaspoons too. It tasted a little salty. I too used a bundt pan and had to add another 10 minutes. Still it was very good. Surprisingly light. It tasted Italian!

  1. Beth

    I know some might consider it a typo, but glaze makes me glad, so…..
    ” Brush glad evenly over the top of the cake, and sides if you wish.”

  2. Madison

    I can’t wait to make this–maybe as soon as I get home from work! Sadly, I have neither a bundt nor a tube pan. Could I bake this as loaves or (possibly, adorably) as mini-loaves? Also, cheers to the official start of summer and end of school!

    1. MR in NJ

      A local library has a whole bookcase of baking pans that patrons may borrow like books. They’re in large plastic bags with instructions. Brilliant idea! Ask your library to do it!

  3. alyssa

    Oh, Deb. How did you know I was nostalgic for our Italy trip two years ago? How did you know I needed cake for breakfast, immediately? Is it possible to be grateful for a cake recipe?! My day is transformed!

  4. MMMmmmm.
    Lemon and tea are perfect. What a delicious recipe.
    It reminds me a little of a quatre-quart, or poundcake. But the measures are a bit different. Sounds maybe more moist/less dry–a good thing.

  5. Laura

    So wait, what’s the verdict? Ina’s or Ciambollene? Maybe you purposefully avoided that, but since you made both I really have to ask, which one will be made again?

    1. deb

      Both. They’re good at different things. Make Ina’s if you want an assertively lemon cake. It’s a lot of work — zesting, juicing, making a syrup, basting it on, glazing it later, etc. It uses 6 lemons the way I make it and 8 the way she does. (I’m working on an update to streamline it, but it still a lot of work and bowls.) This is gentler. I think the crumb is more rich; because you’re not basting with a syrup, it keeps a very nice crust/edge. Because it’s an oil cake, it tastes more moist in general. It’s a lot less work and uses a lot fewer lemons (one, in fact). The glaze is just as lemony as Ina’s so it might not be as obvious that the cake is less so.

      1. Laura

        Thank you for that side-by-side comparison! I have found your comparison descriptions so helpful in the past when I’m trying to decide between two recipes (I’m especially thinking of the comparison in the post for the giant chocolate cake you made your father-in-law).

  6. Leslie Freeman

    After being sick for over a week with no appetite, this is the first thing that woke up my taste buds! Thank you, Deb. I shall get right on it!

    1. Rebecca

      Ah ha! Scrolling through the comments to see if anyone was thinking olive oil. I too have been dying for an olive oil cake! <3

    1. deb

      With most recipes, I suggest things like honey or maple syrup or, if you can get it, golden syrup but I’m not so sure here. Corn syrup provides a shine that I’m not sure the others will.

  7. emilie

    i don’t have a tube pan for this, but i have a donut pan for cake donuts which i may turn this recipe into, because you said the word donut/doughnut several times unconsciously planting the desire for donuts into my stomach.

  8. Marcia

    This looks like something I would make today for my yesterday birthday. Unfortunately my Market here has no mascarpone or full fat yogurt, so it will have to wait. I will just have to make a pie and wait to get the proper ingredients. There is no such thing as “too many” lemon cake recipes.

  9. Carla

    This cake looks divine w my afternoon cup of coffee!! I have leftover ricotta, do u think swapping it for the yogurt will be ok?

      1. Carla

        Sooo just made it!! Used ricotta instead of yogurt & mascarpone bc i had some that needed to be used. It’s delicious!!! I glazed it and looks great also, My question is how do i store it for tomorrow without making it soggy & sticky as usually happens when i try to store muffins etc…??? Thank you, love your site!!

        1. Kathleen

          Do you store your muffins in a closed container? I find lack of airflow gives them that gooey film. Try covering them very loosely with foil or keeping the container lid cracked open.

  10. Anna

    This looks *amazing*. I am dying to bake it.
    What does this mean: “Written below is an 80% level of the cake, as I’d found the original too voluminous for some bundts.” If we have a regular bundt pan, are we supposed to do math/fractions to scale up the recipe???

    1. deb

      No, this works just fine in a 12-cup. (It’s equivalent in volume to the Ina Garten lemon cake, which has never seemed scant to me in a bundt.) However, if you’d like to make an extra large one (it’s truly huge), and your pan allows it (you can check here if yours is NordicWare, just find the match and open the link; will definitely need one that is 12-cup) you can use the proportions in the original recipe, which is linked at the top of this recipe.

  11. celluloidspoon

    Yum! We just got back from Italy, where we dunked a similar cake into dessert wine (usually vin passito or sciacchetra). Will have to try with this one!

  12. Melissa

    Think I could sub something for the mascarpone or is it absolutely necessary? Trying to save a little money if I can ;)
    Looks delicious!

  13. jwgmom

    This looks so good! It might just be the thing to cure me of my “can’t stand to be in the same room with the stuff” yogurt phobia. Even better, could I substitute sour cream?

  14. JP

    By the measurements, it appears that you might be able to make this into a 9″x13″ sheet cake. I make my carrot cake that way and it is an oil based cake…but I know that some cakes are baked in a tube or bundt pan so that the middle will bake at the same time as the sides. Do you think it could be baked as a sheet cake? If not that, I suppose I could bake it in an angel food cake pan. Thanks for this lemony recipe. Lemon cakes are the best!

    1. deb

      I think it could be in a sheet pan, however, I like the more interesting crumb from a deeper cake. I’d be more tempted to put it in two loaves.

  15. erica fuchs

    Am I the first to bake this?!? I subbed sour cream for mascarpone and honey for corn syrup and the cake looks gorgeous… and it’s killing me not to taste it before I bring it to work tomorrow. It was super simple to put together once I oiled the fancy bundt pan and zested the lemon. Took 55 min to bake. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    1. erica

      The crumb is wonderful, the glaze lemon-y. Concensus was a bit more lemon in the batter would have put this over the edge. to Lola M: yes you flip the cake out and then glaze the top. A bit scary but it came out in one piece! A definite winner, especially in a fancy bundt pan.

      1. Jennifer

        Thanks for giving the post mortem! I always want to know how a recipe turned out for others, especially if substitutions were made.

  16. zahraa

    I was looking for a tea cake for my friend’s birthday tomorrow. I saw this and ran home early from work to try. It smells SO good.

  17. JoS

    I think I know why the original recipe makes so much batter – it’s all in the name. Ciambellone = big ciambella.
    Would there be enough batter to split it between two pans?

    1. deb

      In the original, depends on which two pans. But I’d say no. It was just a little over for a 10-cup bundt and should be fine in a classic 12-cup.

    1. Heather

      Same problem here. I used maple syrup. It was great. Not too sweet (which is what I’d feared) and the glaze still tasted of lemon, not maple.

  18. Karen K.

    I make many, many bundt cakes and I do find that often the batter is too much volume for my decorative pans. My solution: use the extra batter for one of my three-cup bundt pans so I have an extra cake that I can eat immediately (if I plan on sharing the larger one). It’s never a bad thing to have extra cake.

  19. Lola M

    Do you don’t flip the cake over when you remove it? I’m used to the bottom of a bunt cake pan being the top of the baked cake. My bundt pans are decorative on the bottom so I’m not sure this would work.

    1. deb

      For the ring, that’s the logical thing to do — also extra doughnut-y. But I flipped mine back just because I liked the slightly flatter, craggy top so much.

      1. Ellen N.

        Hi Deb,

        Thank you for this recipe. It looks wonderful. I have a 10″ angel food pan, so there should be no problem with the amount of batter. However, I’m always nervous about flipping warm/hot cakes, especially flipping them twice. Is this cake unusually sturdy or should I use my Bundt pan so I only have to flip it once?

        Thanks much.

        1. deb

          I think either will work. For flipping the second time, I just put a cooling rack on the top, grip it and the cooling rack below tightly, and flip it fast.

  20. Patty Parry

    I have convection ovens and if I want to use them as a no-fan-style oven, it takes forever to heat up. Would it be possible to include the convection temp and baking time since more & more homes are being built with them?

    My go-to lemon cake has cream cheese & butter from a late ’30’s north TX women’s group that taught indigent women, which was most of the area after the stock market crashed, how to cook on a tight budget. Apparently there were enough dairy cattle that they made not only their own butter & cream but cream cheese as well. Anyway, it takes 6 lemons since a glaze is part of the recipe & I have to say it’s to die for, though time-consuming to make. Having visited Italy & experienced a Florence version of this cake (which I loved), I’m anxious to give this a whirl. Thanks so much!!

    1. Robert

      I heat my oven with convection and switch the fan off when the temperature is reached. If you cannot switch off the fan try the baking at 20F lower.

    2. Jaime

      The manual that came with my convection oven said to bake at 25 degrees less for the same amount of time. I haven’t had any trouble in nearly 3 years of frequent use adjusting this way.

  21. David Sayre

    Hi Deb,

    Wow this is something that is just to my liking.
    How ever…(excuse now to follow), I am not that fond Bundt Cakes.

    I have the ring mold you show (Mmmmmmm).

    In your recipe you say this this is a 60% level (?)

    What are the ingredient amounts for 60% level cake – Please

    1. deb

      For the 60% level:
      2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
      1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
      1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
      1 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
      1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
      6 1/2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
      3 large eggs
      1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      Zest of about 2/3 lemon
      Zest of about 1/3 an orange

    1. meterrilee

      Michael, there is. Look at the bottom of the recipe and there is a banner of small “related” pictures/recipes. Right below that are icons for saving to Pinterest, emailing or printing. :)

    2. Mairsydoats

      Just under the recipe, look for where it says “Do More” There’s a little printer icon among the group of icons. It prints just the recipe.

  22. Sharon

    I would love to see a tinker for this recipe that replaces the mascarpone with a more common-place ingredient. The beauty of Ina Garten’s lemon cake was that I always had the ingredients on hand. That said, I can’t wait to make this – after I buy some mascarpone cheese.

      1. Mairsydoats

        I made this with 2/3 Paleo flour from Bob’s Red Mill, but didn’t try the KA Gluten-Free. Worked like a charm! Super-yummy and kept well. I put it in 3 small disposable loaf pans, as I was on vacation. Glazed them in the pans, and just left them in there. Oh, and used fancy double-cream yogurt and regular sour cream. And extra zest might have found it’s way in there too. I was wishing I’d just committed to all Paleo flour, but having never tried the recipe before… well, just a bit leery of heading completely off the rails.

  23. Amy

    Hi Deb! This looks amazing and I am going to try it this weekend. As a fellow New Yorker, who now lives in Denver, I wondered if you would recommend any changes to baking this at altitude.

    Thanks so much!

  24. Gigi

    Love the looks of this recipe and would like to make it soon. I am confused about using the ring pan you recommend, as the one I am looking at to purchase is 9-1/2″ round and less than 2″ deep. My question is : how much of the batter am I placing inside the tube pan ? Thank You. I too love Ina’s Lemon Cake

    1. deb

      If you’re unsure about your pan, measure how much it holds in cups of water. Mine holds 7 cups. I needed a 60% of the original recipe to fill it without overflowing it.

  25. joan hersh

    i made this cake with a few changes to make it dairy(cow’s milk)free and it is absolutely delicious and moist. i even shaved off a few fat calories, though that wasn’t my intention: instead of yoghurt and mascarpone, i used goat’s milk kefir (in the same quantities). i also used the zest from an entire orange for even more citrus flavor. my last change was just an experiment that i think succeeded. i added 1/4cup of freeze dried trader joe’s raspberries, pureed with the sugars and zest in the processor to add a hint of another fruit flavor to the cake. it’s definitely something i’ll make again. thanks deb.

  26. Litt

    Delightful! I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked despite my need to make modifications due to my dwindling kitchen supplies – I used 1 C mascarpone and 1/4 C sour cream for the dairy products and only 1.5 t baking powder. Still looked just like the pictures and came out of the pan without a problem. Lemony, rich, and just the right amount of sweet!

  27. Peg

    I saw this yesterday & went out to buy the ingredients! It looks amazing. I’ll be bringing this to an event today. Looking forward to tasting

  28. Kristin

    Made it this morning, and just tried it after lunch. Delicious! I love the texture and richness from the mascarpone & yogurt. Mine did stick in the bundt pan even though I greased and sugared well (at least I THOUGHT I did), but the glaze stuck the top bits right back on. Thanks for sharing…this is a keeper!!

  29. This is delicious and so easy. In case anyone’s wondering, yes, you don’t need an electric mixer. I used a balloon whisk and then a rubber spatula to mix it. Literally eating a slice as I type.
    It took about 15 minutes more to cook all the way through for my bundt pan, but I didn’t panic and it was done inside before it burned.

    1. Lisa

      It’s super salty, to the point that it’s the most dominant flavor, not the lemon. It’s also a super heavy cake that takes well longer than the 40 minutes in the recipe.

          1. deb

            Sorry to hear this. I’ve made this three times with this exact salt level and the salt isn’t even notable in the final cake; totally in the background. I’m not sure what would cause it. Table salt can be a tiny bit heavier than fine sea salt, but not enough to throw a whole cake or make it inedible…

            1. Hi – table salt is quite a bit “saltier” than kosher salt, my usual go to. I’m less certain about sea salt. If using Morton’s Id say 1.5 teaspoons of table salt should be about right.

              1. sheri f.

                I’ve made this cake twice in the span of 2 weeks and they came out totally different. One was heaven and one was too salty, similar to the descriptions above. The only difference is I used 1 cup avocado oil and 1/4 cup coconut oil in the first delicious cake and the second too-salty cake was made with olive oil and coconut oil. Could there be a reaction to the olive oil that creates the salty taste? They really were 2 different cakes, taste-wise. It is a mystery.

                1. Heather Giannandrea

                  Hmmm. I used mostly olive oil (was running out of sunflower oil) and did not have a saltiness problem. I used regular table salt for the salt.

  30. Hanna

    I made this cake today, and everyone really liked it.
    I reduced the sugar to 300g and skipped the corn syrup entirely, both worked out nicely.
    Next time I will double the lemon zest and probably replace half of the glaze by lemon syrup – the cake‘s consistency is very nice, but I want it a bit more lemony.

  31. Judy

    This cake is awesome. I mean, I’m awed at how easy it was to make, and how delicious it is.
    Followed the recipe for cake exactly. (okay, so I put the zest of 2 lemons in, plus the half orange). For the glaze I used maple syrup. Was a little concerned it’d taste too maple syrup-ey, so I added a little lemon zest. It was perfect, and perfectly delicious!

  32. The texture of this cake was perfect—moist without being to dense with a great crumb. However, the lemon flavor was nearly nonexistent once you bite past the glaze. This was truly disappointing. It’s a fine cake to nibble on, but if you’re expecting a “lemon cake” look elsewhere.

  33. Angela

    You had me at “lemon” and “doughnut”! This cake was wonderful. Out of pure laziness, I substituted cream cheese for the marscapone (because it was already in my fridge), and ended up using half vanilla/half almond extract (due to an unforeseen vanilla shortage mid-way through the recipe, whoops). I am a long-time fan and I appreciate your dedication, humor, and good taste that never fail to inspire me to get into the kitchen!

  34. Ruth McAllister

    Thank you very much for such a magnificent cake recipe! I got an amazingly heavy and old ring shaped pan from a garage sale this morning and had to put it to use. I didn’t have any mascarpone or orange so used sour cream and a wee bit more lemon peel instead. I also used Italian olive oil.

    I do believe it’s the best cake I’ve ever made.
    cheers from Ruth

  35. Nikki

    This cake! Managed to impress my mom and aunt who are master bakers- having baked for decades. Also made the ranks as my dad’s new favourite cake. Thank you will be my new signature cake.

  36. Jodi Mayo

    This cake was so easy to make and absolutely delicious! The crust is real and definitely reminded me of a donut! And the cake was really moist – actually made me feel like a real baker. Took this to a cookout and my friends ate it up then I ate it for breakfast the next day. We ate it plain but I can definitely see how adding berries would take this to the next level. Love your recipes Smitten Kitchen – if there were only enough outs in the day to make EVERYTHING you post!

  37. Frances

    1 1/4 cups plus 2 tbsp oil – is the 2 tbsp for something else or does it all go into the cake batter? I’ve been tripped up by this before :)

  38. foodwritestyle

    Made this yesterday and served today. Alongside freshly picked blueberries someone brought over…
    Was looking forward to having it again with coffee tomorrow morning, but it has been devoured.
    I cook professionally and this is a recipe worth keeping!

  39. Whitney Benz

    Ok. I’m a teeny bit frustrated. Just made this as written. Cooked for 12 minutes longer than the recipe but my oven is typically slow/cool. I let it cool for 5 minutes and then it got stuck in my bundt pan. Really really stuck. Which I’ve never had happen before. I’ve made tons of SK recipes in the past and this is the first that has been a total failure. I think oil was a mistake for the cake pan. I’ll try this again but will butter my pan. On a hopeful note, it was not too salty.

    1. Heather

      Are you sure you baked it long enough? My oven runs hot and I still baked it for the whole 40 minutes, and I think it could have stayed in even a bit longer. I used sunflower oil on my bundt pan and did not have sticking problems.

      1. Whitney B

        Yeah. The cake was definitely cooked enough. It tasted great but was in pieces. I think it actually was on the verge of being overdone. I’m going to try again this weekend and will report back!

  40. Rachel Naz

    For those who are wondering, the ratios listed (including the salt, don’t worry) are PERFECT. I only had about 300g of white sugar so I had to make up the difference with light brown and I think it was a very wonderful “mistake”. I used a 12 cup bundt pan and added about 3 minutes to the cook time but that could most likely but due to our old gas oven not being quite to temp. This cake has “corner of the brownie pan” crust and SUPER soft inside, nothing like the over dense pound cakes you get from a coffee shop. I’m in heaven and my husband is too. Thank you!!

  41. Delicious! I’ve found my new favourite cake. It’s so easy to whip up and it’s seriously addictive straight from the pan with ice cream, but easily just as nice on its own when cold. I didn’t have a large enough tin, so I split it over a small ring tin and a loaf tin and both baked up beautifully. Thanks Deb! :)

    1. I should note for any fellow Aussie’s that I used self raising flour as a sub for the AP flour and baking powder – and had no problems with it, though perhaps the rise wasn’t quite as high as Deb’s versions, but it in no way effects the taste!

  42. hadiya

    I just tried to make it and had to cook it for perhaps 15-20mins longer, however, the longer it had to bake the darker it got where the panned was coated with sugar. I finally took it out and in some places, it is still a bit wet but if I let this cake go anymore it will be in bad form. Any suggestions as to what I could have done wrong or to combat the caramelization? Do you think it depends on the coarseness of your sugar? Despite all of this it’s still yummy just not aesthetically pleasing to one’s eyes. Will try to make again but split between two pans.

    1. hadiya

      I should have trusted the process a bit more. Though my cake is significantly darker in color then your cake it isn’t burnt nor gives off that taste. It is perfect in taste and structure. However, I will still try the splitting the recipe into two pans just to see if there is a difference.

    2. deb

      Keep in mind what I noted, which is that my larger one got very dark before it cooked through but was still incredible. Didn’t taste burnt or toasty at all.

  43. Heather

    I made this yesterday. Due to shortages in my cupboard, I substituted 2/3 of the neutral oil with olive oil, and used maple syrup instead of corn syrup. I also didn’t have an orange so I skipped that. Even with all these changes, the cake looked gorgeous and tasted spectacular. A definite do-again.

  44. thesavvyglobetrotter

    I made this cake yesterday following the recipe exactly and it was delicious. Would definitely make it again.

  45. Lois

    This looks great and I want to try it however my son is allergic to dairy. I could get non-dairy yogurt, would that work? and what about for the mascarpone – that’s such a delicious flavor and I’m sure really adds to the cake, wondering how to replicate the non-dairy version of that or if I should even bother w/o the mascarpone?

    1. deb

      Try non-dairy yogurt for both, unless you might want to try some non-dairy cream cheese. I might use less and then a higher proportion of yogurt, if so, because it’s so thick.

  46. I made this cake the day I got the post in my email (Friday) and my husband and I demolished the last crumbs last night (Sunday!) all by our selves. With native strawberries and a bit of whipped cream. All right, a lot of whipped cream. But the slices we ate for breakfast without berries or cream were also fantastic so the there really is no need to guild the lily. This cake will be in my regular rotation.

  47. To replace the corn syrup I mixed 1 TBSP water with 1/4C sugar and microwaved until the sugar melted (1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds) and then let it cool a bit and it thickened a bit. Then I measured out the needed amount. Worked great.

  48. Any thoughts/input/advice on how or whether to turn this into cupcakes? I might just look up the pan conversion and go for it, but I thought I’d ask if you have any opinions on whether it’d be a good idea or not.

      1. Thank you. I did it and it worked great, though the cupcake liners were awfully sticky with glaze, which I didn’t think about when imagining these as perfect finger foods. No one complained though. PS: I love the “new” site, though I didn’t at first…I was just so attached to the old site that I was slow to fall in love with the new one, but I finally have. It’s got so much functionality that wasn’t there before (that I wasn’t willing to admit until now).

          1. hadiya

            Deb! You were 1000% RIGHT!!! The cake was still fantastic! I have now made this cake four times. The second attempt I split the batter into two bundt pans. The bake time was just around 30mins and so far has become the standard way of making this cake. It is the perfect quick cake to have for guest who just so happen to stop in. You never fail me, Deb!

          2. Nooo!! JK, but I mean dang, it took me 2 years to get right with this. Although, I had nearly 10 years of loving the old one, so maybe my recovery time will only be a couple/few months this time. Fingers crossed! I’m sure it will be great :)

            1. deb

              The goal is to smooth out and make more aesthetic things that were left rough around the edges last time. And add some features. Don’t worry, it’s going so slowly, it’s probably going to be another 9 months!

  49. Jessica

    I halved this for one loaf pan and kept the same levels of citrus zest. I also substituted cream cheese with a little milk for the mascarpone. Oh, and reading over the recipe again I realized I definitely used 100% Greek yogurt, not plain. It was still very delicious — so, so tender and moist on the inside with just the kind of crispy exterior I was hoping for.

  50. Tim

    Can I make this as a gluten free version with ground almonds? If so how much ground almond do you use in place of flour?

  51. I made half of Deb’s quantities into two donut pans (12 in all) and I also got 4 medium-sized muffins. Baked in a fan-assisted oven at 340°F for 14 minutes. Scaled down the glaze as well but it was just enough for the donuts. The crumb is fantastic but the glaze takes it on to another level… by any means do not skip it! I substituted agave syrup for the corn syrup, maybe it was because of this but the glaze was much thinner than in Deb’s pictures and ended up completely soaked in. Nevertheless – they were still awesome! Definitely a keeper. Now I can’t wait to make it in cake form as well ;) Thanks, Deb!

  52. MR in NJ

    Dorie Greenspan was similarly charmed by this cake (which she calls ciambella) at breakfast in Rome and shares her recipe in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday (posted online in advance of print publication). She recommends adding a cup and a half of berries during berry season.

    1. Virginia

      Oh, thank you for posting this! I was wondering whether this cake would still work if I threw in some blueberries. I think I’m going to try it!

  53. Linda

    I am in England and love reading your blogs, I made this cake yesterday exactly as you said to do it and it came out perfect. The cooking time was spot on and to my surprise it just slipped straight out of the bunt tin. The taste was superb. This will be made again and again! Thank you for great recipes.

  54. Joan Heymont

    I made this lovely, crusty, slightly lemony cake today. It baked up golden, toothpick came out clean. But, a weird thing happened. When I turned the cake out of the pan a bunch of batter ran out of it. Huh? I’m an experienced baker, I’ve never had that happen before, ever. When we cut the cake the inside was underdone, and there was a big hollow space running throughout the whole cake. I had tapped the cake to remove trapped air bubbles. Any idea what happened?
    Thanks

    1. katie rosenthal

      Me too, and baked an extra 5 minutes, too. I could have written your comments.
      Used tester in 2 places, both came out clean . your comments good be mine, word for word.

      1. joan hersh

        1 possibility occurs to me: maybe you didnt mix it thoroughly enough. and also-the obvious- you need to bake it longer, now that you know the time you baked it wasn’t enough-add another 10 minutes and poke the cake in several places and make sure you aren’t just testing it at the edges.

  55. Lorraine

    I will be making this tomorrow morning for mid morning tea. I hadn’t received an email from you in forever and it was like a long lost friend. I thought I wonder how big her kids are now. I’d first known you when you was just a mommy of one beautiful baby boy. Don’t tell me he’s in 4th grade, then I’ll know that I am so old…. So glad to hear about second book, that was my next thought, she must have written another book with scrumptious desserts with lovely stories. I always felt like I was having coffee with a friend in her kitchen and exchanging family recipes. That was the relationship I felt I had with you. And I am sure all your readers felt the same. That is what a great writer does, brings you in to her world, sits you down and shares wonderful recipes that I still use and your first cookbook still is in my kitchen in its slot next to my favorite cookbooks, with little butter stains, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  56. Hillary

    I made this yesterday to take to a 4th of July dinner and it was very good and well received. I was worried about too much volume in the bundt pan, so I made a small loaf also – but I could have used it all in the bundt pan. I did have to cook it for about 5-10 minutes longer to get a knife to come out clean. It was cooked through and I did not have the experience of it being under baked as some of the commenters mentioned. It came out of the bundt pan beautifully. It was a very nice tea cake and I could see making it for an afternoon tea or brunch. I think raspberries or blueberries in the batter would be a nice addition. I will make again.

  57. Jennifer

    I have a big question before I make this – and that has to do with the volume of the pan. I just read reviews for the ring pan linked above, and they said that the pan holds just 5 cups of batter. I ordered the Paderno ring pan because it was cheaper, and upon measuring it with water, find it only holds 4 cups. Has anyone else used a ring pan to make this? Does the batter not rise at all? How on earth does it not bake over?

  58. Brock Haft

    Made this cake last weekend, it didn’t survive even two days. Incredibly moist and delicious cake with a light summer flavor, adding it to my forever recipes for sure!

  59. Lucia Pelayo

    I made this and it was delicious. I baked it in a bundt pan and it baked off perfectly! I did make the following adjustments. I decreased salt to 1 teaspoon. I’m glad I read the reviews. I also flipped the quantity needed for the marscapone and yogurt. So I used 3/4 cup of marscapone and 1/2 cup of (Greek) yogurt. Lastly I added 1T of limoncello. I will most definitely be making this again. Thanks for the recipe!

  60. Laura

    Oh Deb you’ve done it again. I’m having cake for dinner……and dessert and breakfast tomorrow. Rinse and repeat. I was a little skeptical because of all the oil and sugar but it is going to be a go to from now on. Love the texture. Glaze gives it just the right amount of lemon flavor. It does have a crust. It’s amazing. Also, I’m baking during a heatwave so you know I was dying to try this. Success!

  61. I made this with minor tweaks and it turned out fantastic. My tweaks were: 1) used 1/3 cup of baking splenda to replace 1/3 cup normal sugar (couldn’t detect fake sugar taste at that level) 2) used zest from an entire orange 3) used gold’s syrup in glaze 4) used a mix of macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil- cake is delicious and cabinet is more spacious.

  62. A and M

    I made this exactly as indicated. IT IS INCREDIBLE. I love that such a one-bowl uncomplicated recipe can yield a cake like this. The crust. The crust!!! It’s exquisite. I also appreciate the detailed comparison with the other beloved lemon cake on Smitten Kitchen.

  63. Ellie

    What a beautiful cake! I’ve never heard of this recipe before… I might try it for a party, or make it to go with my morning coffee. I always love discovering new, simple bakes. Thanks for the post!

  64. Katie McKenzie

    This is WONDERFUL! I made it as written. I am not a huge fan of lemony things and it was clear from Deb’s descriptions that lemon was not the point of this cake. It’s lightly citrusy and such an interesting flavor. I just loved it.
    I was alarmed when I actually saw the oil in the bowl and then measuring out all that salt – but my cake tastes wonderful so those were obviously the right amounts. So weird that some people had super salty results.
    I do disagree with Deb and most of the commenters about just one thing – I don’t love the crust. It had to cook for so long (50-60 mins, i forget..) that the crust does have a bit of the burn taste. The glaze goes a long way to help that of course.
    I will definitely be making this again!

  65. Jane Hopkins

    Take 1 – under baked…. but I never imagined how much I would be baking with my 22 year old :)

    Take 2 – in a hurry – had my new tube pan versus a borrowed bundt pan (no clue where my bundt pans are) my orange was kind of big, used most of it, used whole fat greek yogurt, was sloppy as far as measuring (and realized take 1 was no fat) used what was left in mascarpone container, didn’t even sift flour. baked 50 minutes, YUMMO perfect – the recipe actually seemed pretty forgiving during take 2. My son did the dumping and smoothing this time. The first time I was handing the ingredients to him.

    In one of his senior English classes last semester, he suggested edible attendance – which I hear became very competitive.

      1. Jane Hopkins

        edible attendance – I am not quite sure how it started, the faculty member loves to cook, it was a small class, it became competitive, (well to my son it was competitive) each student was assigned a class and cooked/made/brought something. My son did something along the lines of brownies, with cherries, marshmallows, icing… she made a pinata cake the last day of class, the photos were amazing. This is an instructor he has had before and really enjoys her classes. She isn’t an easy instructor by any means, but he feels he is challenged and learns. I like that she made attending class fun.
        Engl 355 ? Communicative Practices and Play Theory

  66. Brittany

    This cracked the glaze code for me! I have tried numerous times to recreate my favorite (far away) bakery’s almond poppyseed muffins that are baked without a paper and then glazed upside down. This glaze nailed it; also the cake is perfect and will be a go-to – so simple! Also, also, it totally smells like a doughnut to me but doesn’t have the guilty taste to it, especially with raspberry sorbet and/or lemon curd so yes, perfect.

  67. Lee Rosenthal

    On the Ciamballone, can it be made as muffins?

    On the apple sharlotka, which I plan to make for Rosh Hashanah, could peaches, berries, pears, or plums be used instead of apples?

      1. Lee Rosenthal

        One more question on the apple sharlotka, Deb. Some recipes call for 8 tablespoons of butter. Yours does not call for any. What’s right?

        1. deb

          I only know the way I make it, which is how my MIL makes it. So, that’s “right” to me. You might have time to try it both ways before the holiday — let us know your favorite.

  68. Diana

    I made this for July 4th and everyone LOVED it! They just kept cutting off more slices to “even it out” haha. But the same thing happened to me as happened to someone below; when we first took it out, it was a bit underdone in parts and also came apart while being turned onto the plate. Nothing that a little glaze couldn’t fix. :) I have it in the oven now to bring in and share with my fellow library employees!

  69. This cake is phenomenal. Indeed, the crumb is as lush and plush as advertised, and the glazed crust as delicious, and it does indeed keep very well at room temperature. I’ll be making this forever. Thanks to Jessica Weiss for a fantastic recipe and Deb for sharing it!!

  70. Liz

    I made this as a half recipe in a 10 inch cake pan, having no bundt at my disposal. I also cheated shamelessly because I wanted cake now, and I like more lemon, and who keeps mascarpone laying around, really? Changed the following:
    – zest of 2 tiny lemons instead of 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon
    – 1 cup yogurt plus 2 tbs powdered milk, instead of 3/8 c yogurt and 1/2 c mascarpone
    – extra generous with oil and sugar in the cake pan, cause I didn’t that yummy crust sticking to it (worked great!)
    – half shot of bourbon added to glaze, because obviously I don’t know when to stop (the glaze tasted a bit medicinal, so I’ll skip the booze next time, but when it went on the cake it got better)

    Turned out AWESOME. 5/5 will make again.

  71. keetlin

    Well this cake jumped straight to being a #1 favorite around here. I loved the texture of both the crust and crumb but none of my testers thought there was a doughnut vibe to it at all. But maybe that’s because I couldn’t bring myself to make a lemon cake that wasn’t a lemon cake (sorry!), so I swapped 25% of the vanilla with lemon essence and added the zest of an extra lemon to the batter (but left inadvertently left out the zest in the glaze). I also took out a couple of tablespoons of sugar and didn’t miss it in the least. I love Ina’s lemon cake, and there’s a vegan (wacky) lemon cake that also has its place, but I think I love this one more.
    My batter, by the way, was more like something you “pour” not “scoop”. Also took a full hour (and a few extra minutes) to bake but she was gorgeous. I made this in a 9″ spring form and it puffed up it the middle such that it was wearing a little crust “hat” that I literally had to slap my mother’s hand away from slicing it off and stealing it. (“But you could just re-glaze it. Or flip it upside-down. Who would notice?” Eh…Everybody?)

  72. lonecow

    Such a great cake, and forgiving of substitutions! Due to poor planning and laziness, I made this with what I had in the pantry.

    I added the zest of a second lemon, and substituted cream cheese for marscapone, and made my own buttermilk with milk and lemon juice. I made it at the 60% level since my bundt tin is about 2L/8 cups, and baked in about 40mins. Resulted in a beautiful, dense cake that was easy to get out of the tin too. Thanks Deb!

  73. Gwen

    This recipe is a keeper! I just made it a second time on vacation where I had to use aluminum loaf pans instead of a bundt pan (only thing I could find in the local store) but it STILL came out awesome! Had to sub sour cream also. The marscapone was a little better but I wouldn’t worry if you only have sour cream. Everyone wanted to know about the glaze … ended up with 4 TB and a wee more sugar for consistency. My fav cake!!

  74. I just made this and OMG, it is fabulous!

    Subbed sour cream for the yogurt and took a pass on the glaze because I was making it for husband’s work lunches and he prefers ‘basic’ desserts. It was so tender and light I almost couldn’t believe it, although it took almost a full *70 minutes* in my Bundt pan. I covered the top with foil to avoid a burn situation.

    Thank you for this recipe, Deb. Another winner!

  75. patricijapetrac

    Made this! Made one bundt and 3 small ones in a muffin tin. Muffin tin took 35 min, bundt took 50. Lowered the salt to 2 tsp of pink Himalayan salt per peoples suggestions and used canola oil. I had a few pieces of marscapone that had little chunks that I didn’t see until I add the flour so I recommend mixing that part a little more. Also sifting the flour is key. Next time I think I’ll add the marscapone and oil first mix then add the yogurt and mix a smidge more.

    Also I didn’t have any oil spray so I did a combo of avo oil and butter.

    Delish!

  76. Hello, Deb! I’m a new commenter, and I want to thank you for being a reliable place in the often overwhelming world of food blogging. When I need a recipe for anything, I come here first because you only post tried and tested recipes! I just made the ciambellone tonight, and, I had such high hopes… but I can really really taste the oil! I used canola, which is neutral, so I’m sad that it comes through so strongly. Is melted butter in the volume equivalent a viable option or would that affect the recipe? Thanks, again, for being old reliable through the years, and I appreciate any feedback on this particular recipe!

    1. deb

      Was the canola old or maybe off? It really shouldn’t come through. It’s, by definition, flavorless. Melted butter normally works as a replacement but I know the chef behind this recipe felt that the texture is better with oil.

      And thank you — I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site.

  77. J.

    I love the flavor of this cake, but the process was very strange indeed — I only needed one loaf pan (I tried this recipe twice), and it took far, far longer to cook both times — like 60 minutes at least.

    Now, I will admit that I changed the recipe a bit — all of the orange zest (I love citrus!) and I always cut the sugar down by about a third. And I used sour cream cut with a little milk for the yogurt (I find them interchangeable). But one loaf pan? Odd! And the baking powder was brand-new. Regardless, the cake was light in flavor and texture and really delicious! I’d like to try it again soon. Wonder how some lime/coconut/spices might go?

  78. Novia

    I baked this yesterday in my VERY hot kitchen (no AC) and it was so worth it. The crumb was rich and moist and the lemon glaze was zingy and superb! This recipe is also very forgiving of substitions. I used coconut oil and a bit of olive oil, halved the sugar (yep, only used 200g), and 2 scant tsps of Morton’s table salt. It cooked for 50min in my bundt pan and flipped out with ease (used butter instead of cooking spray). Had it for dessert last night and with coffee this morning. Yum!

  79. Cole

    What a lovely cake. Being that we’re in full summer swing, I omitted the lemon and orange zest. Instead, I used strawberry Icelandic yogurt from Trader Joe’s and strawberry extract. Then I used lime juice in the glaze rather than lemon juice. So good. A simple, stunning, delicious cake.

  80. Poca

    Wow, this was amazing! I substituted grapefruit zest and halved the recipe, it was still quite large (maybe for 6). My crust wasn’t as deep brown despite following the other directions and using the same heritage Bundt pan, but still very good :)

  81. Kate

    Deb, I made this last night for my mom, who is at home recovering from a double mastectomy. She loved it, and so did the rest of my family. Her favorite part of anything is always the crust, and this was no different. The cake is perfectly balanced, and simply delicious- not to mention, very easy to assemble. Thank you for a lovely recipe!

  82. Marie T

    I have made this twice using an angel food cake pan. It took about 10-15 min longer than the recipe — maybe due to the thicker round. The similarity of this cake to an old-fashioned doughnut inspired me to try something different the second time. Instead of zest, I added 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg to make it taste like a traditional cake doughnut. Then I mixed maple syrup and powdered sugar to make a maple glaze — topped with a bit of sea salt. Turned out well — same great crumb, and the crust soaked in maple glaze was really good.

  83. Colleen B

    I made this last night for feeding to my co-workers. (The husband isn’t a big cake fan, his loss). Followed cake recipe perfectly, but didn’t have enough powdered sugar, so I made a boiled syrup glaze with 50% blood orange and 50% lemon juice(since that’s what I had around).
    Its gotten great reviews, no comments on saltiness or nuffin, and since I had that beautiful nordicware bundt like yours in the pic I used it. So great. While the cake was warm, and I poured hot glaze on it, I added Demerara for the pretty, and its a stunner!
    This is more of an overall rich, basically citrusy cake, whereas the Ina cake is all lemon kaPOW. Both great in different ways. Nomnomnom.

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

  84. Eva

    I’m not sure what went wrong here – my batter was definitely not scoopable, I could only pour it into the pan. Maybe the metric measurements didn’t match up for me? Also, I’m not sure how everyone else doesn’t seem to have this problem with such a long bake time, but the sugar on the pan quickly caramelized and caused the outside to overcook far more quickly than the middle set. The result is a really dark, squat cake. I have an oven thermometer, so I know that my temperature was accurate, not sure how to get the results everyone is posting about.

    1. deb

      What kind of pan did you use? My batter was loose but I like to spoon/scoop it in to make sure it’s getting into all of the nooks and crannies and not creating big pockets of air. When a cake gets too brown on the outside before it sets inside, it benefits from being baked a lower temperature, even if your oven is accurate. That said, I note that this cake gets very dark but never tastes burnt; it actually tastes perfect.

      1. Eva

        Hi Deb! I halved the recipe and used a light-colored nonstick 8×4 loaf pan. I will say, the taste and crumb inside the crust was lovely, but the outside did taste a bit bitter/burnt. I might try greasing/flouring next time instead of sugaring, and reducing the oven temp to 350.

  85. It sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing that. You made me think of my childhood. I’m Italian and our housekeeper used to make it for us in the afternoon in special occasion. It was much simple than yours, but still delicious.