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Homemade Limoncello Cake

The zesty and sweet flavors of Italy are quite apparent in this delicious Limoncello Cake. Made with fresh lemon zest and Limoncello liqueur, this delicious cake is perfect for any occasion. So why not treat yourself or your guests to a slice of this simple cake that will transport your taste buds straight to the Mediterranean coast.

Cake on a wire rack with two slices cut.


 

I was asked by a reader a few years ago if I could make a Limoncello cake, she had tried it on her visit to Cinque Terre. Between the owner and her English and the visitor and her Italian she didn’t quite catch the whole recipe.

Although what she did catch was enough for me to understand the ingredients and more or less the procedure. Although I did change it up a bit, meaning it took me a few times to get it just how we liked it. And I hope you like it too!

Italian cakes are a little different from what I was normally used to, meaning, they are either very simple or sometimes they are made with Apples or Pears or even Ricotta cheese, I also learned that Italians love to add Lemon zest and or juice to their cakes.

They are usually served plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar or sometimes with a simple glaze. They are also denser and sometimes drier. But after eating this Classic Bundt Cake or this Yogurt Cake, I could never say no to a slice of an Italian cake!

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Recipe Ingredients to make a Limoncello cake recipe

  • Flour – all purpose flour or cake/pastry flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Eggs – Room temperature 3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • Sugar – granulated sugar
  • Oil – vegetable oil, I use corn oil or sunflower oil or you could use a light olive oil
  • Limoncello – either store bought or Homemade Limoncello – room temperature
  • Lemon zest – one whole lemon
Cake on a wire rack.

How to Make Cake/Pastry Flour

For every cup of all purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons of corn starch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch together a couple of times, this way it is sure to be properly combined and lump free. Cake flour in cakes will give you a very tender texture and fine crumb, it will also help the cake to rise.

Why use room temperature ingredients?

Room temperature ingredients help to produce light tender baked good, in this case a cake. The ingredients will come together smoother with a lump free batter. Room temperature egg whites beat up fluffier. Using cold ingredients could deflate the stiff egg whites.

How to make a Limoncello Cake

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl either with a hand mixer or a stand mixer beat the egg whites until stiff peaks appear.

Eggs white beaten until stiff.

In a large bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Then add the oil, limoncello and zest,  beat until smooth.

Stir the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture and combine, then gently fold in the egg whites until combined.

The batter mixed in a glass bowl.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan.

The batter in the pan.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Let cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar or glazing.

The cake baked on a wire rack.

If you want to fancy it up you could glaze it with a simple Lemon glaze. Combine some powdered sugar with a little lemon juice or limoncello and combine until smooth and desired thickness. Drizzle over the completely cooled cake.

What is the origin of Limoncello?

There are a few stories about the origin of Limoncello, the origin of the liqueur was born in Southern Italy at the Amalfi coast and also Sorrento. One story tells us that the great Sorrento families would always off their guests a taste of the then experimental limoncello.

Of course in the city of Amalfi there are those that insist that origin is even older. They say that limoncello was used by fishermen and farmers especially in the morning to fight the cold.

And thirdly there are some who say that the first recipe originated inside a monastery. Whatever story is true it cannot be argued that Limoncello has become part of Italian Culture all over the world.

To defend itself against imitations, it has the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). Meaning the authentic and original Limoncello is the one produced in the Sorrento area and only in some areas of Campania.

Limoncello cake on a black wire rack.

Limoncello FAQs

What if I can’t find Limoncello?

If you can’t find Limoncello then you can substitute with lemon flavored Vodka.

Can I bake it in a loaf pan?

This cake can be baked either in a round cake pan, a bundt pan or even a loaf pan.

How to store a Homemade Cake

The cake should be stored in an airtight container or a covered cake dish. It will keep at room temperature for approximately 4-5 days, or keep it in the fridge for up to 5-6 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

The cake can also be frozen. Wrap the cooled cake tightly in plastic and place in a freezer safe  bag or container. It will keep for up to three months in the freezer.

Cake on a wire rack with two slices cut.

I hope you enjoy it and if you have ever been to Cinque Terre or it’s on your bucket list, then this Limoncello Cake with its wonderful lemon flavor will be a tasty memory of your visit to Italy. Enjoy.

Cake on a wire rack with two slices cut.

Homemade Limoncello Cake

Rosemary Molloy
A refreshing simple Limoncello Cake, the perfect dessert or perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.  A sprinkling of Powdered Sugar is all it needs.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 servings
Calories 327 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • cups all purpose flour or cake/pastry flour
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 large eggs separated (room temperature)
  • 1 egg yolk (room temperature)
  • cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (325 grams total, if you double the recipe then double this amount)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (I use corn oil or sunflower oil) you could substitute with light olive oil
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Limoncello (room temperature) (72 grams total, if you double the recipe then double this amount)
  • zest 1 lemon (room temperature)

For room temperature, remove from fridge 45-60 minutes before using.

    Instructions
     

    • Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).  Grease and flour a 9 inch (23 cm) bundt pan or 8 inch (20 cm) cake pan.
    • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
    • In a medium bowl beat until stiff peaks appear the 3 egg whites.
    • In a large bowl beat the 4 yolks and sugar until light and creamy (about 3-5 minutes). Then add the vegetable oil, limoncello and zest,  beat until smooth.
    • Stir the flour mixture into the yolk mixture and combine, then gently fold in the egg whites until combined.  Spoon into the prepared cake pan. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool before dusting with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

    Notes

    To make homemade cake/pastry flour – for every cup of all purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons of corn starch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch together a couple of times, this way it is sure to be properly combined and lump free.
    If you want to fancy the cake up you could glaze it with a simple Lemon glaze. Combine some powdered sugar with a little lemon juice or limoncello and mix until smooth and desired thickness. Drizzle over the completely cooled cake. Start with a cup of sifted powdered sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of limoncello or lemon juice.
    The cake should be stored in an airtight container or a covered cake dish. It will keep at room temperature for approximately 2  days, or keep it in the fridge for up to 5-6 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
    The cake can also be frozen. Wrap the cooled cake tightly in plastic and place in a freezer safe  bag or container. It will keep for up to three months in the freezer.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 327kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 101mg | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1.2mg
    Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

    Updated from September 8, 2018.

    90 Comments

      1. Hi Rita, I have never made it without the limoncello, maybe make a regular lemon cake or white cake? https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/#search/q=lemon%20cake . Let me know.

    1. Hello, thank you for recipe. I had a question about the yolks though. The instructions indicate “In a large bowl beat the 4 yolks” the ingredient lists 1 yolk. I just want to be sure if we should use 1 yolk or 4 yolks. Thank you!

      1. Hi Alex, I should have written 3 eggs separated, so it will be 4 egg yolks and the 3 egg whites will be beaten until stiff. Hope that helps. Take care!

      1. Hi Denise, yes it can, you should get approximately 12 standard size cupcakes. Bake them for about 15-20 minutes, but test with a toothpick for doneness. I hope you enjoy the recipe. Take care!

    2. Hi! I am interested in making this cake. I was wondering if the batter would stand up to one of those silicone bundt pans with the intricate designs? Have you tried it in one of those?

    3. I planned to make this cake today for our Easter dessert but am nervous because of the previous comments. Also, when I click on the feature to double the recipe, the “doubling” doesn’t apply to all of the instructions (# of eggs doesn’t change) and the ingredient weights (for example, the weighed flour amount stays the same regardless of the size you make). I’m afraid I’m going to mess up the measurements and set myself up for failure. Would you please take a look at this issue and correct it? Thanks

      1. Hi Kim, I have updated the measurements, but the amounts don’t double the tablespoons, so I calculated the amounts in the notes including the tablespoons, so you will have to double the amount shown). The egg amounts change for me now. If you are nervous about making the cake then just make a single recipe to start. There is a video, so take a look at that too. Hope that helps. Let me know. Take care!

    4. 5 stars
      I’ve made this cake several times and it is delicious, however, it always falls in the center. I even cooked it 10 minutes longer than recommended because it didn’t test done at 30 minutes. It sill fell in the center. I baked it in a 8″ round cake pan. Any suggestions?

      1. Hi Barbara, it could fall for reasons such as the temperature of the oven, the temperature of the ingredients, it helps to bake in a bundt pan rather than a round cake pan. Let me know.

        1. Thank you Rosemary. I agree with you. I think the pan is the problem. Can you tell me where to find a 9″ bundt pan. Most of the pans I’ve found are 10″.
          Thank you for your help.

        2. Hi Barbara, I purchased mine on line. You could probably use a 10 inch, it might not be as high, but it will probably still work. Let me know. Take care!

        3. Rosemary,

          I found a 9″ bundt pan on Amazon. I’m excited to try the recipe again and see if the pan solves the problem. Thank you for all your help.

      1. Hi Christine, I have never made it with gluten free, but you can try and see how it goes. I know other readers have made cakes with gluten free flour and it has worked out fine. Let me know if you try it. Take care!

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