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IMBB 8 -Torta di Limoncello


Here we are again, this time it's IMBB #8 but only #2 for me. This go round is hosted by Donna via her blog, There's A Chef in My Kitchen The challenge, "Lift Your Spirits High" is cooking or in my case, baking with a wine or spirit.

I choose to prepare a Limoncello Cake. I dug out a recipe that I had filed away in the "Cakes To Be Made" category that came from a 2003 issue of Italian Cooking and Living magazine. This bimonthly publication is all about Italy and Italian cooking. It's a part of Italian Culinary Institute and is also affiliated with the Italian Culinary Center in New York City.

Limoncello reminds me of the Amalfi coast Italy where I first tasted it. According to resources, the spirit accounts for 35% of total liqueur consumption in Italy. It's defined as a liqueur made by infusing grain spirits with the juice and peel of lemons from Italy's sunny southern Amalfi coast. I choose to use Caravella Limoncello.

There are many spirited desserts out there that I could have chosen: the Caribbean Tortuga Rum Cake, bananas foster, Crepes Suzette, amaretto cheesecake, bread pudding with hard sauce (brandy), there's also a Jack Daniels Tipsy Carrot Cake, or The Cheesecake Factory's Kahlua Almond Cheesecake.

However I wanted something special. And this cake is just that--a light 3-layered sponge cake wrapped with a fresh whipped cream frosting. Delicate as a cloud and not overly sweet. However, alcohol-based cakes aren't to everyone's liking. Last night I learned that when my friend S. stated, "This cake is 'boozy'.

This cake is not for the impatient or novice. It involves a lot of time and bowls. There's the separating of eggs, whipping of whites for the cake; the whipping of cream for the filling and frosting. And there's the assembly and the frosting of the cake. My kitchen is still a wreck. But as you can see it is pretty has a pleasing taste. The simpler idea would be to brush limoncello over the outside of a lemon or plain pound cake before slicing. But of course I didn't go that way and discovered an unexpected cake for a special occasion.

Limoncello Cake

Serves 8

Italian Cooking & Living

For the sponge cake:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the limoncello cream:

9 eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon limoncello
1 cup whipping cream

For garnish:

2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/4 cups sugar

To layer:

6 tablespoons limoncello

For the sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 10” springform pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer using the whisk attachment until thick and pale yellow on high speed for 2 minutes. Reduce to medium speed: slowly add 5 tablespoons of boiling water; the lemon zest and vanilla. Return to high speed; beat for 5 minutes or until thick. Add the flour mixture, little by little, still beating with the whisk attachment. Turn out into a bowl. Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into the egg yolk mixture with a rubber spatula, being careful not to deflate it. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a rack and slice into three layers with a serrated knife.

For the limoncello cream: Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk in the limoncello. Whisk vigorously for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and triples in volume. Remove and let cool over a seperate bowl filled with ice cubes, continue to whisk until completely cooled. Beat the cream until soft peaks form. Fold into the limoncello mixture; refrigerate until needed.

For the garnish: Beat the cream until soft peaks form in an electric mixture; add 1/4 cup of the sugar by the spoon until all is incorporated; beat until firm. Refrigerate.

Layer the cake: Place the bottom layer of one cake on a serving platter. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the limoncello using a pastry brush. Top with one-quarter of the limoncello cream, spreading it almost to the edges. Continue with this procedure with the second layer, Finish with the top cake layer; turning it upside down first, to brush on the limoncello. Using a metal spatula, cover the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream.

September 19, 2004 at 01:30 PM | Permalink


I toured Italy this summer in a car, collecting recipes and visiting kitchens of chef friends...what an eye-opener! One of my favorites are things I learned to do with lemoncello. The taste is great and the number of dishes one can make from it are truly amazing!

Posted by: Michel | September 19, 2004 01:49 PM

Boozy is good! Italy is fabulous. This looks wonderful.

Posted by: Donna in Harrisburg | September 20, 2004 08:37 AM

What a delicious-sounding and looking cake! This ia a recipe I am going to have to try...wow!

Posted by: Jennifer | September 20, 2004 01:23 PM

Jennifer & Donna this cake is good. It was even better on the second day! I know you two will have fun making it. The boozy taste mellowed a bit on day two, also.

Michael, I love limoncello at the end of a meal. I was so happy when I found yet another use for this digestif. More of an excuse to have it around.

Posted by: Jeanne | September 20, 2004 09:48 PM

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