A chilled Limoncello is hands down my favorite summer aperitif, equally refreshing straight up or on the rocks with a splash sparkling water. Limoncello captures the essence of summertime in southern Italy where Lemon trees dot the sun drenched landscapes of of Naples, Capri, Sorento, the Amalfi coast, Calabria and Sicily.
Happily, the region’s spectacularly lemony flavored limoncello is exported and most likely available at your local spirits shop. Otherwise you could make your own. All that’s need is a bottle of 100 proof vodka and the zest from 12 organic or California meyer lemons. Combine both in a jar, seal, and set aside for about a month to infuse the vodka with an intense lemon flavor. A simple sugar syrup is then added to sweeten the limoncello to your liking.
O course, as a cook, limoncello also inspires all sorts of other applications.
The Limoncello Pound Cake recipe that follows is a versatile summer delight personified. Serve it with coffee in the morning, sliced and toasted and topped with fresh seasonal fruits for a picnic, or a leisurely alfresco lunch, or as a zesty sweet finale for a supper under the stars.
Limoncello Pound Cake
Makes one 10” loaf or a 9” & a 6” loaf
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup limoncello
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons slivered almonds
For Limoncello Yogurt Sauce
- 1 ½ cups full fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup limoncello
Preheat the oven to 350 f /180 c
Prepare a 10 inch” loaf pan or an 8 “ & and a 6”loaf pan, lined with parchment and buttered.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt n a bowl. Whisk until evenly combined, and set aside.
In another bowl combine the Greek yogurt and limoncello. Stir until smooth and set aside.
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Then add the sugar in three additions while continuing to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the eggs in three additions while you beat on medium sped until the mixture is nearly smooth.
Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the dry ingredients and the Greek yogurt mixture alternately. Continue until the batter is relatively smooth and evenly mixed. Then mix in the lemon zest until combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Gently shake the pan to even out the surface. Scatter the sliced almonds evenly over the surface.
Place the cakes in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the cakes after 25 minutes.
The cakes are done when they are nicely browned. Test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with a few crumbs the cake is done. If the cake requires more time return it to the oven for five minute intervals until the cake test done.
Transfer the cakes to a rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the yogurt limoncello sauce. Combine the yogurt and the limoncello and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the pound cake.
Once the cake are cool enough to handle, inspect the rim of the cake and remove any excess cake that may have spread over the edges of the cake pans. Gently run a knife around the edges of the cake pan and tip the pan onto a cutting board to release the cake. Turn cake upright and set aside until you are ready to serve.
Serve generous slices of the pound cake with the Limoncello yogurt sauce to the side.