Home / Recipes / Popular / Cakes & Cupcakes / Homemade Limoncello Cake

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!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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

Ingredients
 
 

  • cups all purpose flour or cake/pastry flour (187.50 grams)
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 3 large eggs*
  • 1 egg yolk*
  • 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.

    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.

    74 Comments

    1. I haven’t made the cake yet. I was wondering if cutting back on the amount of sugar would affect the outcome in any way. Looking forward to making it

    2. 1 star
      I’ve made this cake 3 times and I used a 8 inch round pan and every time I make it, the top cooks but the middle comes out raw. I even left it in for longer then said and then the top began to burn.

      1. Hi Joan, I am sure it’s your oven temperature that is off. You should check it with an oven thermometer to see, it’s probably running high.

      1. Hi Debbie, sorry the cake sunk and no that shouldn’t happen there could be a few reasons for it, your oven temperature could be off, meaning it is actually hotter than it registers, your baking powder might have expired, opening the oven door too soon can cause it to fall and even over mixing. Let me know.

    3. This looks fabulous. Can this be made into cupcakes? Will be making this for a surprise gift and thought cupcakes would be a special gift, garnished with lemon peel.

      1. Hi Carol, sure you can make cupcakes just cut the baking time down, check them after about 15-18 minutes. Let me know how it goes.

      2. 5 stars
        This looks fabulous. Can this be made into cupcakes? Will be making this for a surprise gift and thought cupcakes would be a special gift, garnished with lemon peel.

        Made this cake and it was fabulous! Didn’t make the cupcakes this time but will make them next time! This was a huge hit and they thought it came from an Italian bakery! Thank you so much for a great dessert. Going to try Amaretto next!

        1. Hi Carol, Im sure cupcakes would work too, just be sure to cut down on the baking time, I would say around 15-20 minutes (maybe start checking around the 15 minute mark). Glad you enjoyed the recipe. Let me know how the Amaretto turns out.

    4. 5 stars
      I made this yesterday. It was unbelievable. I was afraid I sxrewednit up as I had a couple of extra egg yolks already in the fridge. When the egg yolk mixture seemed too granular and did. Not want to seem to get smooth and creamy I added an extra egg yolk or maybe more(the yolks were broken) .I also was baking a layered limoncello cake at the same time so not sure the oven temp was right given there were three cakes in at one time, so it baked a little longer than called for but WOW! It was wonderful. The mouth feel was perfect and it had a great little crunch to the top Definitely a keeper

      1. Hi Sandra, Limoncello is an Italian Liqueur and here is a link to make it from scratch https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/limoncello/ hope that helps.

      1. Hi Solomiyka, the only time in advance I would make this cake (or any cake for that matter) would be the night before. Wrap it well so it stays fresh. Hope that helps.

    5. Would you please post a picture of the creamed yolks and sugar? I could have beaten the two until the cows came home and it would not get light and creamy!

      1. Hi Barbara it’s in the video (at the top of the page), (just before I add the limoncello, oil and zest). It should be very pale yellow. Hope that helps. Let me know.

    6. Question….
      When Making this recipe and I mix the egg yolks, am I mixing 1 egg yolk or 4 egg yolks? The 3 from the 3 eggs plus 1 more?
      Thanks, Anita

    7. The cake looks lovely and would love to try it. Is it possible to substitute the limoncello with plain lemon juice? We don’t use alcohol in any form so I’m hoping lemon juice would work. Would I use the same amount? Thanks for your help. I’m looking forward to receiving your new Italian dessert book shortly.

      1. Hi Frankie, because limoncello is thick and syrupy lemon juice I don’t would work, apparently there is a “Torino” Lemon Syrup that would make a good substitution. If it’s really thick then you could maybe water it down just a bit. Hope that helps. Let me know how it goes. And thank you I hope you enjoy the book. 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating




    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.