Sunday, November 20, 2016

Italian Lemon Cake

  Several years back while considering my next trip to Italy, I came across a wonderful cookbook in my local bookstore.
  Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz turned out to be one of those books I treasure not only for it's delicious recipes but also for his inclusion of food history for the region of Campania.
  One of those recipes which I have returned to time and again over the years, is his delightful lemon cake not to be missed by true citrus lovers!  It`s one of those marvelous cakes that gets a good soaking of lemon syrup while it`s still warm penetrating the tasty crumb making it moist while adding another layer of mouth-puckering sensuousness.
  The original recipe calls for the zest and juice of 4 large lemons but you may only need 2 or 3 depending on how large your lemons turn out to be.  In any case, you want enough to make a half cup of juice.

Italian Lemon Cake

12 tbs (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 or 3 large lemon juiced (enough for 1/2 cup of juice) and rinds grated
3 cups all-purpose flour, measured after being sifted
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt or tube pan.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl when necessary.
Beat in lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.
Fold half the flour into the butter, sugar and egg mixture, then stir in half the milk.  Fold in the remaining flour then stir in the remaining milk.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean
While the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup.
In a small pan combine the 1/2 cup of sugar with the 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Let the syrup cool for a few minutes and then add the lemon juice.
When the cake is done, let cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
While the cake is still warm but not hot, make holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick and slowly pour the syrup over it letting absorb after each addition.   Save about 1/4 cup of the syrup.
When the cake is cool, invert onto a serving plate.
Boil the remaining syrup until it thickens a bit.  Brush the syrup on top and sides of cake and press slivered almonds onto the sticky surface.

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