One thing is striking walking down the winding seaside of Sorrento. It is the undeniable smell of citrus, in particular, the lemons that catch your attention. From the groves of lemon trees lining the hillsides to the smells wafting out of kitchens and patios, the fresh scent of these fruits is undeniable.
It is not surprising that given the abundance of all this citrus in and around the Amalfi Coast, that people would find creative ways to use it. I don’t think it took long for Italians to discover how to turn lemons into alcoholic lemonade…Limoncello. Made by steeping these fresh lemons in vodka for at least a week (Here’s a great link to making your own http://www.foodrepublic.com/2013/05/08/how-make-homemade-limoncello), you can visit many fine Limoncello factories around the region.
In Sorrento, I sat down at a cafe each morning and started my day off with the most deliciously moist lemon loaf. I vowed to recreate this recipe at home but there was just something about the lemons in Italy that I just couldn’t find at home. At a complete loss, I turned to a bottle of limoncello that I had purchased in Sorrento and tried to infuse my loaf with that familiar taste…and there it was. The loaf just came to life with a burst of sweet and tart. I tried making the loaf with some homemade limoncello once my Italian supply was depleted and the result was the same. An intense burst of lemon and a cake that I now make when I’m craving something refreshing.
This cake is also a great base for adding ingredients you may want to experiment with. I’ve added in cranberries, blueberries or traditional poppy seeds to this loaf to very tasty results
Limoncello Lemon Loaf
For the cake:
10g cake flour
200g All Purpose Flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
450g granulated sugar
zest from 5 lemons
60 ml fresh lemon juice
454g butter, melted, cooled
110g crème fraiche
For the Lemon Simple Syrup
100ml lemon juice
For the Lemon Glaze
240 g Confectioners sugar
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 9X5X3 inch loaf pans with non stick cooking spray and line with parchment along the bottom and sides of the pan, keeping a little on the top to help pull the cake out
- Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside
- In a stand mixer or food processor, whip or pulse sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice until combined. Add the melted butter slowly. Add the creme fraiche last and mix until combined.
- Sprinkle in the flour in several additions, taking care not to overmix
- Divide the batter evenly between your loaf pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating a couple of times during baking. Check to see if the cake is fully baked by inserting a toothpick into the centre, making sure it comes out clean.
- Remove from pans and let cool for 15 minutes
- In the meantime make the lemon syrup by heating lemon juice and sugar on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Take off heat and add the limoncello
- Place wire rack over a tray or parchment paper. Poke holes in the cake and brush the lemon syrup over the cake until most of the liquid has absorbed.
- Let cakes cool completely before applying the lemon glaze
- To make the glaze, whisk together sugar, and some of the lemon juice. If the glaze is too thick add some more lemon juice until you reach the right consistency.