This easy Limoncello Cake bursts with bright lemon flavor! The limoncello glaze infuses the cake to make it extra moist and adds a touch of tart sweetness on top. Bring a slice of lemony sunshine into your day!
Why this recipe works
- Bright lemon flavor shines in the cake and the glaze
- Can be made using limoncello or lemon juice (for a non-alcoholic version)
- Serve it as a tea cake loaf or as a bundt cake
Lemons remind me of springtime, no matter what the season. It could be grey and pouring rain, but just one taste of anything made from lemons brings a bit of joy into my day.
(We’re sensing a theme here.)
I have a friend who loves lemons just as much as I do, and their birthday is upcoming. Should I make lemon bars? Lemon cake? Wait, no…Limoncello Cake!
What you need
This limoncello cake recipe is a version of a lemon loaf, a glazed tea bread similar to pound cake, though it's moister and has a softer crumb. Lemon tea breads are generally made in a loaf pan, although as a quick bread, you can use a bundt pan as well (more on that later).
As a variation of pound cake, the cake batter contains the usual flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. The addition of Greek yogurt adds moistness and a bit of acid to react with the leaveners for extra lift, and vanilla is used to add a bit of richness underneath the lemon flavor. I like to use fresh vanilla beans whenever possible, or you can use 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract if you prefer.
Limoncello liqueur is a lemon-infused vodka that's sweetened with a simple syrup, and it's very easy to make at home. The alcohol cooks out of the cake itself, but is present in full strength in the limoncello glaze that's infused into the still-warm cake. If you want a non-alcoholic lemon cake, substitute fresh lemon juice for the limoncello liqueur. The batter won't be quite as sweet, so you may want to add 2 to 3 tablespoons more sugar.
The glaze is simply powdered sugar and limoncello. It doesn't get much simpler than that. Again, substitute lemon juice for the limoncello liqueur for a alcohol-free lemon cake.
How to make a glazed limoncello cake
Step 1: Make the batter
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, melted butter, eggs, limoncello, vanilla bean seeds, and lemon zest (photo 1). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir until just combined (photo 2). Try not to over-mix the batter -- you don't want to develop the gluten so the cake stays tender.
Step 2: Bake the cake
Bake the cake at 350˚F for 40 to 45 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center is clean and the top of the cake is golden brown (photo 3). Remove the cake from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.
Step 3: Infuse and glaze the cake
While the cake is cooling in the pan, whisk together the powdered sugar and the limoncello in a bowl until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding 1 teaspoon of water or more sifted powdered sugar as needed.
Remove the cake from the pan. Poke holes in the top of the cake with a cake tester or toothpick, then pour some of the glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Let cake cool completely (photo 4).
Drizzle the remainder of the glaze over the cake and let the glaze dry. It's...uhm...the icing on the cake!
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions that you might have...
Limoncello is vodka that's been infused with lemon zest over a period of time, then sweetened with a sugar syrup. It's super easy to make, or you can usually find it with the liqueurs.
A limoncello mascarpone cake is a limoncello-infused lemon layer cake that's filled with lemon curd and covered with a mascarpone frosting. For this glazed limoncello loaf we're using elements of that traditional Italian lemon cake to make a fuss-free tea bread while still featuring the the bright moist lemon flavor of the original.
Pro Tip: Choose your cake style and size
Most quick bread & muffin recipes can be made as bundt cakes, and vice versa. Don't be limited to one shape for a recipe!
This Limoncello cake is very versatile in its presentation. You can make it in a standard loaf pan or as a limoncello bundt cake in a small (6-cup) bundt pan. You can also double the recipe if you want to use a full-sized (10-12 cup) bundt pan.
A bright taste of sunshine
My friend with the birthday raved about his mini limoncello cake and took pictures for me. He hoarded it and didn’t share, rather he savored every bite!
The mini limoncello bundt cake I make for my family is a burst of sunshine on a rainy spring day. Glazed or not, it's sweet, tart, and cute as a button. And I did share (at least with them).
I’ve still got a bit of limoncello left in the refrigerator…hmmm…anybody having an upcoming birthday?
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Lemons, limes, and oranges can add brightness and maybe even a mouth-puckering tanginess to your desserts. Whether the recipe contains fresh squeezed juice or a citrus-flavored extract, you'll want to try some of these citrus recipes! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
I hope you like this recipe! Do you have any questions I can help with? Let me know! Or, if you made the recipe, I'd love for you to leave a comment and rating. Thanks!
Easy Glazed Limoncello Cake
For the cake
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup limoncello, or lemon juice, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 fresh vanilla bean, scraped, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For the glaze
- ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons limoncello, or lemon juice, see Recipe Notes
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Spray a standard loaf pan with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, melted butter, eggs, limoncello, vanilla bean seeds, and lemon zest.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir until just combined. Try not to over-mix the batter -- you don't want to develop the gluten so the cake stays tender.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center is clean and the top of the cake is golden brown.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.
- Make the glaze: While the cake is cooling in the pan, whisk together the powdered sugar and the limoncello in a bowl until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding 1 teaspoon of water or more sifted powdered sugar as needed.
- Remove the cake from the pan. Poke holes in the top of the cake with a cake tester or toothpick, then pour a some of the glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Let cake cool completely.
- Drizzle the remainder of the glaze over the cake and let the glaze dry.
- Serve and enjoy the sunshine!