IMBB 8 -Torta di Limoncello
After the stress of switching over to a non-blog URL I thought I’d reward all who were patient with the process with a recipe that is by far one of my most popular, statistically speaking, around the world. Originally published back in September this cake is best made a day ahead. Enjoy.
Here we are again, this time it’s IMBB #8 but only #2 for me. This go round is hosted by Donna via her blog, There’s A Chef in My Kitchen The challenge, "Lift Your Spirits High" is cooking or in my case, baking with a wine or spirit.
I choose to prepare a Limoncello Cake. I dug out a recipe that I had filed away in the "Cakes To Be Made" category that came from a 2003 issue of Italian Cooking and Living magazine. This bimonthly publication is all about Italy and Italian cooking. It’s a part of Italian Culinary Institute and is also affiliated with the Italian Culinary Center in New York City.
Limoncello reminds me of the Amalfi coast Italy where I first tasted it. According to resources, the spirit accounts for 35% of total liqueur consumption in Italy. It’s defined as a liqueur made by infusing grain spirits with the juice and peel of lemons from Italy’s sunny southern Amalfi coast. I choose to use Caravella Limoncello.
There are many spirited desserts out there that I could have chosen: the Caribbean Tortuga Rum Cake, bananas foster, Crepes Suzette, amaretto cheesecake, bread pudding with hard sauce (brandy), there’s also a Jack Daniels Tipsy Carrot Cake, or The Cheesecake Factory’s Kahlua Almond Cheesecake.
However I wanted something special. And this cake is just that–a light 3-layered sponge cake wrapped with a fresh whipped cream frosting. Delicate as a cloud and not overly sweet. However, alcohol-based cakes aren’t to everyone’s liking. Last night I learned that when my friend S. stated, "This cake is ‘boozy’.
This cake is not for the impatient or novice. It involves a lot of time and bowls. There’s the separating of eggs, whipping of whites for the cake; the whipping of cream for the filling and frosting. And there’s the assembly and the frosting of the cake. My kitchen is still a wreck. But as you can see it is pretty has a pleasing taste. The simpler idea would be to brush limoncello over the outside of a lemon or plain pound cake before slicing. But of course I didn’t go that way and discovered an unexpected cake for a special occasion.
For the sponge cake:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the limoncello cream:
9 eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon limoncello
1 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons limoncello
For the sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 10” springform pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer using the whisk attachment until thick and pale yellow on high speed for 2 minutes. Reduce to medium speed: slowly add 5 tablespoons of boiling water; the lemon zest and vanilla. Return to high speed; beat for 5 minutes or until thick. Add the flour mixture, little by little, still beating with the whisk attachment. Turn out into a bowl. Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into the egg yolk mixture with a rubber spatula, being careful not to deflate it. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a rack and slice into three layers with a serrated knife.
For the limoncello cream: Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk in the limoncello. Whisk vigorously for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and triples in volume. Remove and let cool over a seperate bowl filled with ice cubes, continue to whisk until completely cooled. Beat the cream until soft peaks form. Fold into the limoncello mixture; refrigerate until needed.
For the garnish: Beat the cream until soft peaks form in an electric mixture; add 1/4 cup of the sugar by the spoon until all is incorporated; beat until firm. Refrigerate.
Layer the cake: Place the bottom layer of one cake on a serving platter. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the limoncello using a pastry brush. Top with one-quarter of the limoncello cream, spreading it almost to the edges. Continue with this procedure with the second layer, Finish with the top cake layer; turning it upside down first, to brush on the limoncello. Using a metal spatula, cover the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream.