Italian Breakfast Cake

Having cake for breakfast is generally frowned upon. However, this has never been an unusual occurrence for my family. Granted, we have been known to have spaghetti for breakfast too and are not opposed to the idea of having crumpets with strawberry jam for dinner, yet, not the point.

Italian Breakfast Cake

Italian Breakfast Cake

Spending most of his high school years living in his Nonna’s apartment, my dad was often given a hunk of this Italian Breakfast Cake in the mornings to keep him fuelled and so ensured that my younger brother and I got to experience the joys of having cake for breakfast too.

Italian Breakfast Cake

The result of this simple recipe is a delicious, dense, lemony cake with a sugary crust perfect for dunking in coffee, or, as my family often does, drenching in Cointreau or Grappa.


Instead of making the same-old scones or pancakes for Sunday morning brunch, why not try something new and whip up this delicious breakfast cake? I promise you won’t be disappointed. (Be prepared to have seconds. And thirds.)


4 eggs

4 tbsp sugar

500g self-raising flour

Lemon rind of 1 lemon, grated

1 cup milk

120g butter

Vanilla essence


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a large circular cake tin.


2. Beat eggs and sugar on a medium speed until slightly foamy. Add a dash of vanilla essence and the grated lemon rind – mix in on a medium speed.

Lemon Rind

3. Melt the butter with a little of the milk in a small pot on a low-to-medium heat, breaking the butter up and stirring slowly with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the milk and stir until lukewarm.

Milk and Butter

Nan's Pot

4. Add the milk mixture to the egg mixture whilst slowly stirring to mix.

5. Sift the flour into the wet ingredients. Fold carefully with a wooden spoon before mixing on a medium speed to avoid the flour flying out of the bowl. Mix well.



6. Once ingredients are well-incorporated, pour the mixture into the greased cake tin. Sprinkle some brown sugar over the mixture and bake at 180°C for 45-60 mins, or until the top of the cake is cracked and golden.


7. Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool fully before slicing.

Italian Breakfast Cake

NOTE: You can add some Cointreau (orange liqueur) to this recipe for more of an orange flavour to accompany the lemon. This is the way my family likes me to make it – I add 2 tots of Cointreau at the end of the recipe.

4 thoughts on “Italian Breakfast Cake

  1. Nonna & Nonno says:

    Brings back many memories. I’ve just asked Nonna to back one. Your blog is very creative and I like your story back ground. Keep it u Em.


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