This vegan ciambellone is taken straight from the Italian breakfast tradition. It’s a simple plant-based recipe that is quick to make, with a moderate amount of fat and sugar, and full of chocolate flavour and aroma.

Its black and white colours make it fun to look at, and delicious to eat. We use both cacao powder and dark chocolate chips, and it’s totally worth it!

vegan Italian breakfast ciambellone

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You can find the non-vegan version of this black and white ciambellone made fresh, daily, pretty much in every supermarket, and in most cafés. Like the original recipe, we mix a white plain vanilla batter and a black batter packed with chocolate flavour

Unlike the original recipe, our vegan ciambellone has no eggs, no butter, and no dairy milk, so you can give it to your loved ones without an ounce of guilt. This plant-based breakfast ciambellone is rich, spongy, moist, soft, chocolatey, fulfilling, and yes, served upside down.

If you are looking for other delicious vegan breakfast treats check out our:

What is ciambellone?

Ciambellone is an Italian food of peasant origins that looks like a huge donut. Due to its humble origins, ciambellone is a simple cake made with very basic ingredients like eggs, sugar, flour, butter, and milk. Ciambellone is widespread throughout Italy, where it is consumed at breakfast with milk.

Here, of course, we make the vegan version of it without eggs, without butter, and without milk. Its shape is always round, with a whole in the middle. It looks like a giant donut.

In Italy, we have a strong bond with ciambellone, probably because it’s always there, in a corner, in our grandma’s kitchen, waiting to be eaten.

Is ciambellone a dessert?

Ciambellone can be considered a dessert, however it is most often eaten for breakfast with coffee and (plant) milk, or as a mid-afternoon snack.

Remember that in Italy people have dinner between 8 pm and 9 pm, and almost everyone eats a snack at around 4:30 pm. A slice of ciambellone is perfect for that!

vegan Italian ciambellone
vegan Italian ciambellone

What is the difference between ciambella and ciambellone?

Ciambella looks more like an American donut, while ciambellone is bigger, like a bundt cake. The suffix “ONE” in Italian is added to nouns to signify “big”.

Also, ciambella is often deep-fried, and made with a leavened dough with yeast, while ciambellone is baked in the oven just with baking powder. If you are curious, we have an oven-baked version of ciambella/donut too.

What is the difference between a bundt cake and ciambellone?

A bundt cake is any cake that is baked in a bundt pan. Ciambellone is baked in a bundt pan, therefore it can be considered a bundt cake.

In my experience, however, ciambellone is a lot less elaborated than your typical bundt cake, it rarely has filling, glazing, or syrup on top. Ciambellone is like an easy, quick and humble version of an American bundt cake.

vegan black and white ciambellone
vegan black and white ciambellone

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Flour: you can use all-purpose, bread flour, whole wheat flour, spelt flour, and even a mix between all-purpose and whole-wheat flour.
  • Water: water keeps the cake light. That’s why we add it to the plant-milk.
  • Plant-milk: any plant milk will do, oats, almond, rice, peas, cashew, but our favourite is unsweetened organic soy milk.
  • Sugar: we just use plain sugar, but you can use any sugar you like. As you can see in the ingredients we don’t use a lot of sugar, you can always add more if you like.
  • Vegetable oil: we recommend using a lightly flavoured vegetable oil such as sunflower oil.
  • Baking powder: to make the ciambellone cake rise and crack on top.
  • Cacao powder + Dark chocolate chips: to give colour and flavour to half of our ciambellone.
  • Aromas: we recommend orange zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

How to scale this recipe?

How to scale the ingredients?

This recipe is easy to scale. We calculated the scaling number for you. Pick the bundt pan size that you want to use for your cake, then multiply all the ingredients in our recipe box by the scaling number in this table.

Bundt PanScaling Number
4 inch bundt pan (10 cm)0.22
5 inch bundt pan (13 cm)0.31
6 inch bundt pan (15 cm)0.44
7 inch bundt pan (18 cm)0.60
8 inch bundt pan (20 cm)0.79
9 inch bundt pan (24 cm)1
10 inch bundt pan (25 cm)1.23
bundt pan sizes and how to scale recipe

How to scale cooking time?

The cooking time suggested in this recipe is for a bundt pan that is 9 inches (about 24 cm) in diameter. Depending on the size of your bundt pan, you might need to adjust temperature and cooking time.

Smaller bundt pan: if you use a smaller bundt pan (less than 9 inches / 24 cm), keep the same temperature but bake for shorter time. About 5 minutes less per inch. Always check with a toothpick if the cake is fully baked inside.

Bigger bundt pan: if you use a bigger bundt pan (more than 9 inches / 24 cm), you need to reduce the temperature and increase the baking time. My advice is to bake at 170C / 338F for the first 45 minutes, then reduce temperature to 160C / 320F until your cake is fully baked inside. Always check with a toothpick if the cake is fully baked inside.

How do I know if my cake is fully baked inside?

checking if the vegan ciambellone is ready
checking if the vegan ciambellone is ready

Depending on the type of oven, type of milk, and type of flour, your ciambellone will take more or less time to cook than our ciambellone. For this reason, when baking ANY cake, you should always check the core of the cake with a clean toothpick or skewer before you take your cake out of the oven.

To do that, just insert the toothpick or the skewer in the centre of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean and dry it means that you cake is ready. If the toothpick comes out wet, then bake for a few minutes longer, then check again.

Mistakes I made

  • The cacao: the first time I added the cacao powder to the cake batter I did not dilute it with water. The result? A dry batter and a dry cake! Terrible! Always dilute the cacao powder with water when you add it to a cake. It will make all the difference! Even better if you take the time to melt the cacao in hot water, then add it to the cake.
  • Didn’t prep my bundt pan: preparing your bundt pan with oil and flour should be your first step. This is because you want to bake your ciambellone as soon as the batter is ready, so that the baking powder can fully work its magic in the oven, and make the cake extra tall.

Tips 

  • Do not over-mix: over-mixing will result in a heavier, denser cake that is harder to eat. This happens because by over-mixing you develop the gluten network in the flour, making the cake gummier and more compact. For a lighter, spongier ciambellone, do not over-mix.
  • Dilute the cacao in water: don’t forget to add the extra 50g of water when you add the cacao to the cake batter. It’ll make all the difference and the cake will stay moist.
  • Cook fully: this is a big cake that requires a full hour to cook. But because each oven is different, check with a toothpick if your cake is fully cooked inside.
  • Serve upside down: this is a tall, very tall, cake, and should be served upside down.

Frequently asked questions

Where does ciambellone come from?

Ciambellone is a quintessentially Italian cake. In fact, this dish is omnipresent in most Italian homes, from north to south, as a daily breakfast cake, but also as an afternoon snack, or as a simple Sunday treat after lunch.

Why is it called ciambellone?

Ciambellone in Italian means “big ciambella”. Ciambella is basically like an American doughnut with the whole – yes we made those vegan too. Ciambellone is kind of a big baked version of it.

How do you grease a bundt cake pan?

To grease the bundt pan, first add some drops of vegetable oil in it. Then with a piece of kitchen paper, distribute the oil evenly across the pan. Finally sprinkle the inside of the bundt pan with flour.

How do you eat ciambellone?

You slice it and eat it. You can also slice it and dip it in your favourite plant-milk cappuccino. In Italy we dip everything in coffee + (plant)milk. You can also slice it, and spread some vegan nutella or jam on top.

vegan ciambellone - Italian breakfast cake
vegan ciambellone – Italian breakfast cake

Storage

Store this vegan Italian ciambellone on a plate, covered, in a dark corner of your kitchen. It’ll stay nice and soft for up to 4 days. If you want to extend its shelf-life, then store it in a reusable plastic bag – like one for freezing food.

You can also freeze this cake for up to 3 months, then let it thaw in the plastic bag at room temperature before eating it.

Variations

Classic Ciambellone: made just with the white batter, without adding the cacao powder and the chocolate.

Chocolate Ciambellone: made just with chocolate batter. Use 60 g of cacao powder and 80 grams of dark chocolate chips. Mix the cacao powder with hot water, the stir till it melts and add it to the batter. Then add in the dark chocolate chips and stir. Now put in the bund pan and bake.

Coffee flavoured Ciambellone: replace the water amount with freshly brewed espresso. Keep the dark chocolate chips, but remove the cacao powder and the orange zest.

Lemon Ciambellone: add the zest of 2 lemons and remove dark chocolate chips, the cacao powder and the orange zest.

For many more easy dessert ideas, check out our desserts category page.

vegan ciambellone - Italian breakfast cake

Vegan Ciambellone – Italian Recipe

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 2 votes
This vegan ciambellone is taken straight from the Italian breakfast tradition. It's a simple plant-based recipe that is quick to make, with a moderate amount of fat and sugar, and full of chocolate flavour and aroma. Its black and white colours make it fun to look at, and delicious to eat. Ps: we use both cacao powder and dark chocolate chips, and it's totally worth it!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 20 slices
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Italian

Equipment

  • Bundt Pan 9 inch (24 cm)

Ingredients

  • 600 g bread flour
  • 300 g water + 50g / 3.5 tbsp for the chocolate batter
  • 300 g soy milk
  • 130 g sugar
  • 60 g sunflower oil
  • 40 g cacao powder
  • 40 g dark chocolate chips
  • 25 g baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla aroma
  • 1 grated orange zest
  • 2 pinch salt

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 356F / 180C. Lightly oil a bundt pan, then sprinkle the inside with flour and set aside.
    oiling a bund pan
  • In a large bowl, add 300g / 1.3 cups of water. Then add the soy milk, sunflower oil, sugar, vanilla aroma, orange zest, and a pinch of salt, and mix well.
    making the vegan bundt cake batter
  • Now sift the flour and the baking powder into the bowl with the liquids and stir with a spatula until all the ingredients come together. You should not stir too much, just the time to combine everything. Lumps are ok.
    adding the dry ingredients
  • Pour half of the cake batter into the bundt pan.
    Pouring the batter in the bundt pan
  • Add the cacao powder, the dark chocolate chips, and 50 g / 3.5 tbsp of water to the remaining batter and stir until the chocolate is evenly distributed.
    Try not to over-mix. Pour the chocolate batter in the bundt pan, on top of the white batter.
    adding the chocolate batter to the pan
  • Bake at 356F / 180C for 1 hour. Before taking it out, check the inside of the ciambellone with a toothpick. If it comes out dry, the ciambellone is ready.
    Let it cool down, then take it out of the shape, slice it and enjoy for breakfast or as a snack.
    checking if the vegan ciambellone is ready

Notes

MEASUREMENTS
We recommend using the metric system for this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 183kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Potassium: 223mg, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 59IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 1mg, Vitamin E: 2mg, Vitamin K: 1µg, Calcium: 89mg, Folate: 61µg, Iron: 2mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 18mg, Zinc: 1mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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8 Comments

  1. We liked this cake, but frankly it isn’t sweet enough as written to qualify as a cake. It’s more a beautifully marbled bread. We solved this by topping with a vegan sweetened whipped cream. Next time, though, I think I will use as much brown sugar as white sugar and 1/2 the bag of chocolate chips.

    1. Hi Kristina,
      Thanks so much for the feedback and for the whipped cream tips. We’ll be sure to reasses the measurements as soon as we can.
      Have a wonderful week ahead.
      Best,
      Louise

  2. Ingredients calls for orange zest, but the recipe does not indicate when or where to add. Can you please advise?

    1. Hi Leanne, apologies, you can add orange zest in step 2. Thanks for letting us know, I updated the recipe now.

    1. Hi hi, YES, oat milk works too in this recipe. The ciambellone will be slightly lighter with oat milk, but still delicious.