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A simple, moist lemon cake recipe inspired by the Italian Amalfi coast, infused with layers of fresh lemon and a limoncello-spiked glaze.
Yes, there is a type of lemon named “Eureka” but I chose that word to show you that I’m! Excited! About! Cake!
We’re always on the lookout for the best lemon cake recipe, and I think we found it.
You know — a cake that delivers that perfect balance of tangy-sour-sweet, along with a moist crumb that will keep your fork busy cleaning the plate.
I’m happy to say this lemon cake recipe is a standout and there’s nothing fancy or fussy about it.
It’s a plain and simple cake to serve as an everyday tea cake or easy weekend dessert.
It has a dense, lemony texture that reminds me of pound cake, not at all dry or overwhelmingly sweet.
To double up on the lemon flavor, I incorporated a generous amount of fresh lemon zest into the batter, along with buttermilk for added tanginess.
There’s some almond flour in there too, which really helps to achieve that super-moist texture we’re going for.
And, to amp the lemon-love even more, the creamy white glaze on the cake includes fresh lemon juice and a little limoncello.
Lemons and Limoncello from Italy’s Amalfi Coast
Lemon trees thrive in the southern Italian regions of the Amalfi Coast and Sorrentine Peninsula, which inspired me to create this recipe (not to mention making me wish for a vacation ASAP).
The fruits are so prolific in that part of Italy that limoncello, a liqueur made from a simple mixture of lemons, sugar and vodka or grappa, is regularly served as an aperitif or after-dinner digestif.
Because it tastes dangerously like lemonade, ice cold limoncello served straight from the freezer is best served in small shot glasses and sipped slowly.
Or, in this case added to a glaze and poured over cake!
Limoncello adds a little special something to the glaze, but it’s not at all necessary to go out and buy a bottle just for glazing this cake.
Try subbing lemon-infused vodka or simply leave it out, adding a teaspoon or so additional lemon juice instead.
Cake pan to use for Baking Italian Lemon Cake:
Traditionally used to make ciambella cake — a round cake shaped like a doughnut — the pan is also known as a savarin or gelatin mold.
Don’t have a savarin pan?
Sorrento Double Lemon Cake
- 1¼ cups (170 g) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (60 g) fine blanched almond flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5 ounces (150 g) (10 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest, from about 2 lemons
- 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
- 1 cup (115 g) confectioner's sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons limoncello liqueur or lemon vodka, optional
- Freshly grated lemon zest, for garnish
- Butter and flour a 9-inch ring cake pan or plain tube cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 (175 C) degrees with the rack in the center.
- Whisk the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium-high speed with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, then add the lemon zest.
- Adjust the mixer speed to low (stir). Add half the flour mixture and half the buttermilk. Mix until combined, then add the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk until blended.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes — a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool in the pan 15 minutes.
- Run a blunt knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
To make the lemon glaze
- Stir the sugar, lemon juice and limoncello together until smooth. Drizzle over the cake and sprinkle with zest over the top. If not using the limoncello, use a bit more lemon juice as needed.
Karen's Notes and Tips
- If you want to skip the limoncello, use a little extra lemon juice in the glaze instead.
- The cake keeps up to 3 days, stored at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap.