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Limoncello Cake

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a close up shot of Limoncello Cake with slices take out on a cake stand
Limoncello cake is a dessert brimming with the flavor of lemon, featuring layers of moist cake complemented by a creamy mascarpone frosting.
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Table of Contents
  1. Limoncello Cake Ingredients
  2. Limoncello Dessert Recipe Substitutions and Additions
  3. How To Make This Limoncello Cake Recipe
  4. How To Serve Limoncello Cake Recipe
  5. Limoncello Cake Storage Tips
  6. Why This is the Best Limoncello Cake
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. More Recipes You’ll Love
  9. JUMP TO RECIPE
  10. More Recipes to Try

Indulge in the delightful flavors of our limoncello cake, a lemony sensation with a hint of liqueur. This lemon cake with limoncello is a perfect blend of citrusy goodness and sweetness, making it a treat for any occasion.

a close up shot of Limoncello Cake with slices take out on a cake stand

Limoncello Cake Ingredients

Limoncello Cake raw ingredients that are labeled
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Pantry staples form the base of this delicious cake, with lemon zest and juice infusing a bright, irresistible flavor. 

The limoncello liqueur adds a touch of sophistication to the dessert, while the mascarpone cheese creates a creamy frosting.

You’ll need:

For The Limoncello Cake:

  • 2¾ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ cup of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1½ cups of granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup of whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon zest
  • ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 ounces of limoncello lemon-flavored liqueur

For The Mascarpone Frosting:

  • 12 ounces of mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1½ cups of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1½ teaspoons of lemon extract
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups of heavy whipping cream, very cold

For The Optional Garnish:

  • Thinly sliced fresh lemon circle, sliced in the center and twisted

Limoncello Dessert Recipe Substitutions and Additions

LEMON FLAVOR: This cake has a light and delicate lemon flavor. For added lemon flavor, do not add more limoncello liqueur; instead, add 1-1½ teaspoons of lemon extract to the batter. 

The added limoncello will alter how the cake bakes up, but the extract will not; it will only add additional lemon flavor if desired.

MASCARPONE CHEESE: Mascarpone cheese is similar to block cream cheese. It is slightly lighter in texture and not as tangy in flavor. 

Cream cheese can be substituted in the frosting, but you will need to note that the taste and texture will not be the same as the mascarpone version.

LIMONCELLO LIQUEUR: If you prefer a non-alcoholic version, replace the Italian limoncello liqueur with additional lemon juice or lemon extract.

HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM: You can use half-and-half or whipped topping for a lighter frosting, but it will alter the texture and taste.

LEMON EXTRACT: Enhance the lemony goodness by adding extra lemon extract if you adore a more intense citrus flavor.

How To Make This Limoncello Cake Recipe

Let’s have a look at the easy step-by-step instructions for making this homemade limoncello cake.

With its wonderful lemon flavor and easy key ingredients, it’s the perfect dessert for special occasions.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Be sure that all of your cake ingredients are at room temperature before adding them to the batter. This helps to ensure that your cake rises and bakes up evenly. 

Your heavy whipping cream is the only ingredient that should be very cold. 

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two nine-inch round cake pans with baker’s spray and line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper round. Set aside.

STEP TWO: In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda stirred

STEP THREE: In a large mixing bowl, cream together, using a hand mixer on medium speed, the room temperature butter and granulated sugar for one to two minutes or until light and fluffy.

butter and sugar creamed together in a bowl

STEP FOUR: With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next. 

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed to ensure that all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

STEP FIVE: Add the room temperature whole milk, lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and limoncello liqueur to a bowl with a pour spout. A two-cup liquid measure cup works well. Next, stir to combine.

milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, limoncello added to the bowl

STEP SIX: Add a third of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Beat on low just until the flour is incorporated. 

Next, add half the milk mixture, followed by another third of the flour mixture, the remaining milk mixture, and lastly, the remaining flour mixture. 

Be sure that you are mixing in each addition just until fully incorporated. Your batter will be slightly thick.

PRO TIP:

When combining the wet and dry ingredients, be careful not to overmix the batter. Overmixing can lead to a tougher cake. Mix just until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

dry ingredients added to the mixing bowl

STEP SEVEN: Divide the cake batter equally between the two prepared cake pans. Gently spread the batter into an even layer. A small offset spatula works well for this. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 22-25 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 

PRO TIP:

Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to keep a close eye on your cake as the suggested baking time approaches.

STEP EIGHT: Allow the limoncello cake to cool in the pans for ten minutes before carefully flipping them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Be sure to remove the parchment paper from the bottoms of each cake once they are flipped onto the cooling rack.

STEP NINE: Once your cake has cooled, you can make the mascarpone frosting. 

Add the room-temperature mascarpone cheese, sifted powdered sugar, lemon extract, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

Beat on medium-high speed until smooth. This should take one to two minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

mascarpone, powdered sugar, lemon extract, and vanilla whisked together

STEP TEN: With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the cold whipping cream into the bowl until all the cream is incorporated into the mascarpone cheese. 

Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat the mascarpone frosting for two to three minutes or until stiff peaks form. 

Be sure not to over-mix, or your frosting will start to break down and separate.

STEP ELEVEN: To frost the cake, place the first layer of limoncello cake onto a cake plate, add a third of the mascarpone frosting to the cake, and spread it into an even layer. 

This layer should be nice and thick. Place the second layer onto the frosted layer, then frost the sides and top of the cake. Garnish with the thinly sliced lemon circle if desired.

cake frosted on a cake stand

How To Serve Limoncello Cake Recipe

Serve a slice of limoncello cake with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, whip cream, and a drizzle of raspberry sauce for a heavenly dessert.

Surprise a birthday celebrant with a lemon limoncello cake. This cake adds a refreshing twist to traditional birthday desserts.

Don’t forget to add a bowl of our rainbow sherbet punch or a pitcher of our strawberry lemonade to drink.

Two more cake recipes that we know you will love are our Neapolitan cake and vanilla buttermilk cake.

Limoncello Cake Storage Tips

If you want to make this cake ahead or have leftovers, we have a few handy tips for storage.

MAKE AHEAD: You can prepare the homemade cake in advance and store it tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to one day.

IN THE FRIDGE: Store the frosted limoncello cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days. Be mindful that the texture may change slightly due to the refrigeration.

IN THE FREEZER: For longer storage, freeze the unfrosted cake layers for up to three months. Wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container. 

When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator before frosting.

Why This is the Best Limoncello Cake

BURST OF CITRUS: We adore this recipe because it delivers a burst of limoncello flavor with each bite. 

CREAMY FROSTING: The mascarpone frosting steals our hearts. Its creaminess, combined with lemon and vanilla extracts, elevates the cake to a level of decadence that’s hard to resist.

CROWD-PLEASER: This cake never fails to please a crowd. Its light and delicate lemon flavor makes it universally appealing.

a close up shot of a slice of Limoncello Cake on a plate

Our limoncello cake is a delightful treat that combines the freshness of lemons with the sophistication of Italian lemon liqueur. Whether you’re enjoying it at a family gathering or a special celebration, this cake with limoncello is sure to brighten your day with its citrusy charm. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice?

While fresh lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor, you can use bottled lemon juice if that’s what you have on hand.

What can I use if I don’t have limoncello?

You can replace limoncello with lemon extract or additional lemon juice.

How do I prevent my cake from becoming too dense?

Be careful not to overmix the batter. Mix just until the ingredients are fully incorporated to maintain a light texture.

Can I freeze the cake with the frosting?

It’s best to freeze the unfrosted cake layers and add the frosting after thawing.

Can I omit the mascarpone frosting?

You can skip the frosting or use a different frosting of your choice.

Can I substitute cream cheese for mascarpone in the frosting?

Yes, you can use cream cheese, but the taste and texture will be slightly different.

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a close up shot of Limoncello Cake with slices take out on a cake stand

Limoncello Cake

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Limoncello cake is a dessert brimming with the flavor of lemon, featuring layers of moist cake complemented by a creamy mascarpone frosting.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

Limoncello Cake

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 ounces limoncello lemon-flavored liqueur

Mascarpone Frosting

  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • teaspoons lemon extract
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cups heavy whipping cream, very cold

Optional Garnish

  • fresh lemon circle, thinly sliced sliced in the center and twisted

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with baker’s spray and line the bottom of each pan with a parchment round. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, the room temperature butter and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed to ensure that all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Add the room temperature whole milk, lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and limoncello liqueur to a bowl with a pour spout (a two-cup liquid measure cup works well). Stir to combine.
  • Add a third of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Beat on low just until the flour is incorporated. Next, add half the milk mixture, followed by another third of the flour mixture, the remaining milk mixture, and lastly, the remaining flour mixture. Be sure that you are mixing in each addition just until fully incorporated. Do not overmix your batter, or your cake will be tough. Your batter will be slightly thick.
  • Divide the batter equally between the two prepared round cake pans. Gently spread the batter into an even layer. A small offset spatula works well for this. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Allow the limoncello cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before carefully flipping them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Be sure to remove the parchment paper from the bottoms of each cake once they are flipped onto the cooling rack.
  • Once your cake has cooled, you can make the mascarpone frosting by adding the room temperature mascarpone cheese, sifted powdered sugar, lemon extract, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed until smooth. This should take 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the cold whipping cream into the bowl until all the cream is incorporated into the mascarpone cheese. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat the mascarpone frosting for 2-3 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to over-mix, or your frosting will start to break down and separate.
  • To frost the cake, place the first layer of limoncello cake onto a cake plate, add a third of the mascarpone frosting to the cake, and spread it into an even layer. This layer should be nice and thick. Place the second cake layer onto the frosted layer, then frost the sides and top of the cake. Garnish with the thinly sliced lemon circle if desired.

Notes

  • Be sure that all of your cake ingredients are at room temperature before adding them to the batter. This helps to ensure that your cake rises and bakes up evenly. Your heavy whipping cream is the only ingredient that should be very cold.
  • When combining the wet and dry ingredients, be careful not to overmix the batter. Overmixing can lead to a tougher cake. Mix just until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to keep a close eye on your cake as the suggested baking time approaches.

Nutrition

Calories: 835kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 189mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 229mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 1800IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 2mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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