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.
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
- 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
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.
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.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cake 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.
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.
If you can’t find Limoncello then you can substitute with lemon flavored Vodka.
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.
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.
Homemade Limoncello Cake
- 1½ cups all purpose flour or cake/pastry flour (187.50 grams)
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
- 3 large eggs*
- 1 egg yolk*
- 1½ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (325 grams total)
- ½ cup vegetable oil (I use corn oil or sunflower oil) you could substitute with light olive oil (100 grams)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Limoncello* (72 grams total)
- zest 1 lemon*
*Ingredients should be room temperature, remove from fridge 45-60 minutes before using.
- 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!
Updated from September 8, 2018.