Tuesday, September 25, 2007


For our weekend company, I planned to make a Limoncello layer cake with lemon curd and mascarpone frosting. I found the recipe on epicurious.com --it was originally published by Bon Appetit, April 2003. The reviews of the recipe were mixed, and many reviewers felt that the cake was bland. There was no lemon zest anywhere in the recipe. I used a different lemon curd recipe (theirs was made on a stovetop and had no lemon zest); used a DH yellow cake mix for the cake part instead of their sponge cake; and substituted Limoncello for the lemon syrup. To decorate the top of the cake, I used a resealable quart-size plastic bag as a pastry bag, cut the bottom corner and inserted a star pastry tip. This recipe can be made in stages: lemon curd one day, cake the next day, and frosting and assembly the next day. The cake is amazing. Lemon flavors come through strong, but the delicate mascarpone and cream soften the lemon and smooth it out. Here's the recipe:

Microwave Lemon Curd:
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. orange zest
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Whisk together the sugar and eggs in a 1-1/2 quart microwaveable bowl. Stir in the juice, zests and melted butter. Cook in microwave on high, stopping and stirring at one-minute intervals until the mixture can coat the back of a metal spoon. (It should take less than 5 minutes. It will bubble up quite a bit.) Cool on counter, whisking occasionally, for about an hour. Finish cooling in fridge.

Lemon Syrup: (make this only if you are not using Limoncello)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool. (If you are using Limoncello, you will need about 1/2 cup.)

Cake: Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix (not the butter type)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. pure lemon extract
1/4 tsp. pure orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour 2 8-inch cake pans. Set aside. Combine all ingredients in large bowl of mixer and follow directions on package for mixing cake.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-35 minutes, testing for doneness at 28 minutes by first pressing lightly on center of cake with fingertips, then inserting a toothpick in center. Toothpick should have just a slight crumb on it when removed. Cool cakes in pan on counter for 10-15 minutes, then invert and finish cooling on cake rack.

Filling and Frosting: 2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup confectioner's (10X) sugar
16 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened OR
8 oz. mascarpone cheese & 8 oz. cream cheese (I used mascarpone & Neufchatel)
1-1/4 cups lemon curd (homemade or purchased)

Place large mixing bowl and wire whip beaters in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove and whip the cream till stiff. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating till stiff again. In separate smaller bowl, by hand or with electric mixer with wire whip attachment, beat the softened cheese and chilled lemon curd together till well combined. Add the sweetened cream and beat again till everything is well blended.

Assembly: Cut the cooled cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place the first layer, cut side up, on serving plate. Using pastry brush, brush 1/4 of Limoncello (or lemon syrup) onto the cake. Top with 3/4 - 1 cup of the frosting. Place next layer cut side down and repeat process. Frost the outside of the cake and the top. If desired, decorate top using a pastry bag (or resealable plastic bag with corner cut and star tip inserted in cut corner) and star tip. If you do not have a star tip, you can decorate top with chopped nuts, chopped crystallized ginger, or thin lemon slices. Yield: 10-12 servings.

The cake should be refrigerated for at least 6 hours before serving. It's really like a Tiramisu and it WILL pick you up! (Tiramisu means literally "pick me up.")


Anonymous said...

Wow! Gorgeous! Looks so beautiful! I love the acid flavor of lemon!

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the ingredients for the filling and frosting. Does "2/3 cup confectioner's (10X) sugar" mean I should use ten times 2/3 cup or 6 and 2/3 cups of sugar? Thanks in advance.

Judy said...

Anonymous: There are different grades of confectioner's sugar. The one that should be used is the 10X. The amount is 2/3 cup.

Anonymous said...

I found the recepie as a way to use up the Limoncello - wife made it Sunday, the cake was out of this world.

Aurorab4 said...

I love the sound of this cake and wanted to know how well it would work for a wedding cake. I am getting married in the summer and wanted something citrus, but also also incorporating the added alcohol. Would the cake melt in the heat or would it stand the test of time?

Judy said...

Aurorab4, the whipped cream would definitely not hold up in heat. This cake needs to be refrigerated.

Anonymous said...

I made the cake today. It was a hugh success! Everyone loved it. I will make it again for our Thanksgiving dinner next week.

I used 16oz. of cream cheese for the filling and frosting. I thought it was very good. I had lemon and orange citrus oil on hand and used it instead of lemon and orange extract for the cake. It turned out just fine.

The cake is a show stopper!

Judy said...

Anonymous, thanks so much for the feedback. It's one of my favorite cakes.

Anonymous said...

I have made this cake five times since Thanksgiving. It is my favorite cake of all. I gave the recipe to my friend and now it's her favorite too!

Unknown said...

i absolutely love this recipe!! i top mine with raspberries and strawberries. then i wrap the cake with lady fingers.. they make it look pretty and helps when cutting pieces.
i love to make this for dinner parties!! it is always a hit to the eyes and taste buds of all my fiends and family!

sometimes i don't let mine sit over night.. for more adult gatherings.

here is a picture i took of my best made!! i won first place in a bake off in my non-trads group at college. ;]

Judy said...

greezyhair, thanks for that photo. Your dessert looks absolutely stunning, and congrats on your win!

Anonymous said...

does the cake have to be refrigerated?

Judy said...

Anonymous, Definitely refrigerate the cake until you serve it, and then refrigerate any leftovers.

jimmyloubill said...

This cake is AMAZING! Everyone was so impressed. The best part was the frosting. I loved the texture. Plus I made the cake on a Thursday and served on Saturday and it was still super moist. I will definitely make this again. Thank you so much!

Judy said...

jimmyloubill, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I'm so glad the cake was a hit.

Celia J said...

The cake did not rise in the oven. Never had that problem with a box mix before. Hopefully it will still taste as yummy as everyone says.

Judy said...

Celia J, the cake should have risen, so something is definitely wrong. Could you have measured ingredients wrong, or did you mix too long?

J said...

I made this cake for my mother's birthday and it was a big hit. I initially thought it would be a lot of work, but it was really easy to prepare and assemble. I don't normally post comments, but I would highly recommend making this cake! I followed the exact recipe and it turned out wonderfully delicious.

Judy said...

J, Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. It may help other readers. I'm so happy your mom and others liked it.

Unknown said...

Do you recommend a homemade yellow cake recipe instead of box cake? Thanks!

Judy said...

Hi Margaret, I'm not a big fan of cake mixes, but when I made this cake, I had first tried making the sponge cake from Bon Appetit magazine that was part of this recipe, and it failed miserably. So because of time constraints, I resorted to a box cake mix. I would definitely recommend a homemade sponge cake for this recipe, not a traditional yellow cake.

Unknown said...

I made this cake for Christmas for my nephew who always gets a Pepperidge Farms lemon cake and I decided I wanted to make a lemon cake for him. I originally was going to make a different recipe and got all the stuff, then I came across your recipe ..it turned out beautifully and was so yummy tasting . the balance of all the flavors was just right. It was a huge hit , including from my 18 yr old nephew! The only thing I did different was added a touch of yellow coloring paste to the frosting to give it little color...I will definitely being making this cake again...de

Judy said...

Michelle, I really appreciate your feedback. Love the idea of yellow coloring for eye appeal.

diamondmom said...

i really wish information plus a recipe would have a 'print' button so just the recipe could be printed. i've wasted so much paper without a 'print' button as well as the recipe being divided in strange places. it's really frustrating.