Can we ever really get enough lemon cake in life? And can lemon cake ever really be lemon-y enough? These are the kinds of questions that I ponder unceasingly; the kind of questions that keep me awake at night and distracted during the day. I know, I know.
So it was that on the occasion of my daughters’ birthdays a couple of weeks ago I sought the answers to those questions. We are true lemonheads, us three, so there wasn’t even a question of what kind of cake I would make; just how lemon-y I could actually make it.
The answer, in the end, was very lemon-y indeed.
On the outside chance that you, too, lie awake at night scheming how to get more lemon into your life, here’s a very simple primer…
1. Make this pound cake, substitute limoncello for the vanilla and add 2 teaspoons of lemon zest to the batter.
2. As the cake cools, puncture holes into the top with a wood or metal skewer (make sure the holes get down through the middle of the cake).
3. Drown Drizzle the cake with limoncello and let it soak in.
4. Mix together lemon curd and mascarpone cheese.
5. Cut the cooled cake in half and spread the lemon curd frosting over the bottom half.
6. Replace the top half of the cake and spread with the remaining frosting.
7. Sprinkle the top with freshly grated lemon zest.
Yes, people, yes. The answer is yes, you can actually get enough lemon into a lemon cake.
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Limoncello Pound Cake with Mascarpone Lemon Frosting
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
1teaspoon limoncello liqueur
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup (or more) limoncello for drizzling
For the frosting:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups lemon curd (store-bought or homemade -see recipe below)
2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Combine yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon peel, and limoncello in large bowl; whisk until well blended. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients. Using rubber spatula, fold in oil. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Place pan on baking sheet.
Place cake on baking sheet in oven and bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack.
While still warm, puncture holes in the top of the cake and drizzle with the limoncello. Let this soak in completely.
Mix together the mascarpone cheese and lemon curd, adjusting the amounts of each to your own tastes for how lemon-y or creamy you would like the frosting.
Slice the cake in half horizontally and spread the bottom half with a little less than half of the frosting. Replace the top half of the cake and spread with the remaining frosting and then sprinkle with the lemon zest.
Makes 8 servings.
YIELD 1 1/2 cups
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice (I sometimes add another ¼ cup for extra lemony-ness)
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon rind, grated
In a heavy, medium saucepan whisk the eggs and egg yolks until well blended and then add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is fairly thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat and immediately pour through a sieve or strainer to catch any egg bits. This also creates a smooth, curd texture.
Stir in the cold butter pieces and once the butter has melted, add the grated zest and stir to combine.
Transfer to a tightly covered storage container. At this point you can refrigerate the curd (it will last for 2-3 weeks) or you can freeze it for much longer.