I have frequently shocked waiters in Italy and – on a very memorable occasion – a Sorrentine ice cream maker by waiving an offered Limoncello on the house and, when pressed, admitting that I am not a fan of the syrupy drink. I often enough made up for my outrageous Northern bluntness by quietly braving the sugary attack on my taste buds in situations when I felt that the dictates of politeness were more exacting, the sacrifice being, after all, small.
But having said this, there remains a more complex twist to the story. While I remain obstinate when it comes to consuming the sticky liquid in its intended form as a drink, I actually think that it is a fantastic baking ingredient, and I add it frequently to cakes, fillings and desserts. Just do not forget to reduce your sugar portion accordingly – there is plenty of it in the Limoncello already!
This recipe is for a moist cake full of lemon flavor which goes excellent with both tea and coffee. Or with Limoncello, of course, if you like it! 😀
Ingredients (for one ca. 20 x 9 x 9 cm cake mold):
- 125 grams of butter, room temperature
- 100 grams of icing sugar
- 2 shots of Limoncello
- several drops of lemon baking oil
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 150 grams of flour
- 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
- peel of 1 lemon, peeled of in quarters
- Beat the butter to a pommade. (Beat on high with an electric mixer until very creamy. Occasionally place over boiling water while beating but remove immediately again when the butter starts melting! It should by no means become liquid, but mainly adopt a very creamy texture and glossy look resembling hair pomade.)
- Add the sugar in smaller batches and continue beating vigorously with a baking spatula. The butter shall turn very creamy and almost white.
- Add the Limoncello and baking oil and continue to beat.
- One by one, fold in 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk. Each time, beat vigorously until you obtain a smooth batter before adding the next egg. (By all means ensure that the eggs are room temperature or the butter will curdle.)
- Pass the flour and baking powder through a fine mesh and fold into the batter in several batches. Continue whisking until you obtain a very smooth dough.
- Remove all the white bits from the lemon peel and keep only the yellow outside skin. (This is best done by using a very thin blade and placing the lemon skin with the outside skin facing down on a cutting board. Hold from one tip and carefully slice of the entire pith.) Chop roughly and fold into the batter.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (fan oven). Butter a small rectangular cake mold.
- Pour the batter into the mold. Bake for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, then make an approximately 2.5 m deep incision in the top of the cake.
- Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes until a tester comes out clean. (Keep checking regularly – if the cake turns to dark, reduce the temperature.)
- Let cool down completely. Dust with a bit of icing sugar before serving.