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Limoncello Pound Cake with Mascarpone-Lemon Frosting

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. 

You Might Also Like:

Lemon Cream   Lemon Pudding Cakes Limoncello Trifle  Lemon Crostata

Limoncello Pound Cake with Mascarpone Lemon Frosting

Click here for a printable recipe

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.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten

1 lemon, zested and juiced (you will need about 1/4 cup)
3/4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 eggs
pinch of salt

Mix together the lemon zest and sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

Reader Comments (15)

OMGoodness! It looks so moist, and that frosing, how did you come up with that? brilliant, I'm stealing, I mean, borrowing that. Lemon curd and mascarpone! Your photos are beautiful Patrice!

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarie

Thanks so much, Marie! Hope you like this... I believe you are a fellow lemonhead? No?

March 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I can just taste the lemon now! I love that you went with the layered approach, this looks fantastic. I made a pretty incredible Meyer lemon pound cake a few weeks ago, tis the season!

I did exactly what's on your recipe. It turned out really great. Everybody loved it!!! This is awesome. Thanks for sharing!

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMercey

You're so welcome, Mercey, and I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for letting us know!

May 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

The cake was a hit after church services.
The different comment I have is in the ingredients you don't list vanilla, but in the directions you call for it. I added 1/2 tsp of lemon extract. It was a little extra lemony but very d-lish!!
Thank you for a great recipe!

August 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSalemspolarair

Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention. The original recipe called for vanilla which I had swapped out for the limoncello, but forgotten to change in the body of the recipe. It's all fixed now. So glad you liked the cake and thanks again for letting us know.

August 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I just made this for our Christmas Eve family get together. It looks amazing and just like the picture. Its also very hard not to cut into this now lol. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe. I have already shared this recipe with several friends just after them seeing the picture of it.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTina

So glad you liked this Tina! It really is SO good, especially if you're a lemon-lover. Thanks for letting us know!! So good to hear from you.

December 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I've made this recipe twice, and it has been a big hit both times!! I entered it in my family's Christmas Day dessert bake-off yesterday (the required ingredient was lemon) - and came in 4th place out of 10. I couldn't find limoncello in my local grocery store, so I substituted a combination of fresh lemon juice & lemon vodka, but it still worked. I'm keeping this recipe on hand for any time I need a big burst of lemon :) Thanks!

December 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa

That's so great, Theresa! But how did it not win??? Thanks for letting us know, Theresa... it's one of our very favorite lemon desserts.

December 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I made this to take to a "trip to Italy" planning party and we just loved it. It's so moist and I could have eaten the whole thing myself. YUM and thank you!

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam

You're so welcome, Pam. Thanks for getting back to us. I love that cake! Going to Italy? Have a wonderful trip!

March 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I made this cake and it was so so good!! However when I started to cut it into slices, the slices started to fall apart and would not stay together. I am not sure what I did wrong. Although it was not pretty to eat, it still tasted very yummy!

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHollie

I'm so sorry it fell apart on you, Hollie. Not sure why that happened, except that maybe your yogurt was thin. Next time you might try using a Greek yogurt or draining your yogurt before adding it to the batter. Glad you enjoyed the cake, but I hope you try it again and we'll hope it holds together for you! Thanks for letting us know!

August 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

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