Italian Lemon Cake to mark a special occasion
Last week I was invited to celebrate my friend Ana’s birthday and asked to bring cake. Mmm cake, BUT it has to be gluten free. And it has to satisfy the fussy Ms Ana. And she wanted lemon flavours. Right. A bit of googling required then. I found several versions of this Torta Caprese, all looking delicious, but mostly written in italian. My italian is sketchy at best, but with google translate and some imagination, I think we have a winner!
Torta Caprese is a traditional italian almond and chocolate cake. Now, anything from Capri is going to be fine by me, and it makes sense that it should also be flavoured with the lemons that are so abundant there. Enter Torta Caprese Bianca – adding in white chocolate and lots of lemony flavour. Warning: this cake is rich, moist and slightly decadent and totally delicious! Best made ahead of time, which is handy because there is a lot of washing up afterwards!
Start by preheating the oven to 200°C and lining a 22cm round cake tine with baking paper. (In my first trial, I used a 20cm tin, and the cake was a little moist, but if that is all you have extend the cooking time by 5 minutes)
Place unsalted butter and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over saucepan filled with boiling water, making sure the bowl and the water do not come in contact. Stir with a metal spoon until smooth, then set aside to cool slightly. Note – use your favourite white eating chocolate here not cooking chocolate please – the flavour will be sooo much better.
Separate eggs and place the yolks and the caster sugar into the bowl of a mixer and beat until pale and thick.
Add in lemon juice, finely grated lemon rind, vanilla and here is the special secret ingredient – Limoncello. This will really give your cake that burst of lemon flavour. Trust me.
Now stir in the almond meal and melted chocolate and butter and stir to combine. In another bowl (I told you there was lots of washing up!) and with clean beaters, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a half of the egg whites through cake mixture until just combined and then fold through remaining. Pour into prepared cake tin.
Pop in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 150°C and bake for a further 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Hint from one who learned the hard way – leave the baking paper on the bottom of the cake at this stage as it is moist and sticky and first try, my cake got a little bit stuck.
One of the yummy things about this cake is the lovely golden outer crust that contrasts so beautifully with the lemony moist centre. Once the cake is cooled completely, place on your serving platter and dust with icing sugar. I served the cake with marscapone and cream whipped together, but it would also be nice served with vanilla bean icecream, and perhaps a shot of limoncello on the side.
- 200g unsalted butter, chopped
- 200g white eating chocolate, chopped
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 cup caster sugar
- finely grated rind of 4 lemons (about 4 tbs)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 30 ml limoncello
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 3½ cups almond meal
- Icing sugar for serving
- Preheat oven to 200°C and grease and line a 22 cm round cake tin.
- In a heatproof bowl placed over boiling water, melt the butter and white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks and the caster sugar until thick and pale. Add lemon rind and juice, limoncello and vanilla bean paste and beat until combined. Stir in almond meal and butter and chocolate.
- With a clean beater, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold half through the cake mixture until just combined then fold through remaining egg whites. Pour into the prepared tin.
- Pop into the oven and bake 10 minutes then reduce heat to 150°C and bake a further 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before turing onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Serve dusted with icing sugar, and with whipped cream, or a combination of marscapone cheese whipped with cream, or vanilla bean ice cream