Limoncello Cake with Limoncello Zabaglione

This cake truly captures the sunshine of Southern Italy, where limoncello is traditionally made.  Limoncello and lemon are infused in every element—the cake itself, lemon curd, and zabaglione cream. The recipe is a little complicated and time- consuming to make but, if you have the time, I guarantee it will get rave reviews from your guests.




For the cake:

  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened 
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 large whole eggs, at room temperature 
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
  • 1/4 cup limoncello
  • 1/2 cup whole milk 

For the lemon syrup:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons limoncello
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

For the lemon curd:

  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the limoncello zabaglione:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Limoncello
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 cups heavy cream



Step 1: To make the lemon cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper and butter parchment. Dust the bottom and sides of pans with flour and tap out the excess.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together the dry ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.
Step 3: In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to beat until the mixture is light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Step 4: Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. 
Step 5: Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the limoncello (the batter will appear curdled at this point but will smooth out after you add the dry ingredients). 
Step 6: Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 10 seconds. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
Step 7: Bake the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely.
Step 8: To make the lemon syrup: place the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves and the syrup clears slightly. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass bowl to cool to room temperature.
Step 9: To make the lemon curd: combine sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in fresh lemon juice. Whisk in eggs and yolks; add butter. 
Step 10: Whisk over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 minutes. Pour into medium bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface.  Refrigerate until cold, at least 5 hours. Curd can be prepared 1 week in advance.
Step 11: To make the filling, first make the zabaglione. Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the eggs and sugar and whisk well.  Add the limoncello. Continue to whisk, over the pan of water until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool slightly.
Step 12: In another large bowl beat the mascarpone until it is smooth. Beat in the slightly cooled Zabaglione and mix until even.
Step 13: In another bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into the mascarpone/zabaglione mixture.
Step 14: To assemble, place 1 cake layer onto a serving plate. Soak the top of the cake layer with the lemon syrup brushing on with a pastry brush.
Step 15: Spread the cake layer with lemon curd and then add an even layer of mascarpone filling. Top with the second cake layer. 
Step 16: Soak the top of the cake with the lemon syrup brushing on with a pastry brush. Coat the top of the cake with an even layer of mascarpone filling. Run a palette knife around the sides of the cake to even out the filling. Reserve the remaining mascarpone filling and place the cake in the fridge for 4 hours to firm so that the rest of the assembly can be completed. Once chilled, coat the sides and top of the cake with the reserved mascarpone filling.  Decorate as desired.


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