1 1/3 cups sugar
2 sticks butter (1/2 pound) plus an additional 1.5 tablespoon to grease the pan
4 eggs (I used large)
Grated zest of 2 large lemons, or 4 if small
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/3 cups flour (use either tipo “00″ or cake flour)
4.25 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, optional
Lemonade Mixture For Top:
1 1/3 cups water
Juice of 3 lemons
8 tbls. sugar
Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Whip the butter in a mixing bowl on high speed for at least two minutes. Add the sugar and continue to whip until a soft cream forms.
Add the following ingredients to the mixing bowl, one at a time, and blend after each:
1. Egg, one at a time
3. Grated lemon zest
Alternate adding and blending the following ingredients into the mixing bowl:
4. Flour and baking powder
In other words, add one quarter of the flour and blend; then, add one quarter of the milk and blend. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk are blended into the batter. Continue to mix the ingredients on medium speed until the texture of the batter has a light and airy consistency (similar to mousse).
Note: Do not beat the batter for too long after adding the baking powder.
Coat the surface of a fluted pan with butter before dusting it with flour. Shake off any excess flour before adding the cake batter to the pan.
Note: This step creates a non-stick surface so the cake will easily release from the pan and retain its shape.
Pour the batter into your greased and floured pan. Bake the cake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.
While the cake is baking prepare your lemonade mixture as follows:
1. Squeeze the lemons into a pitcher or other container from which you can easily pour the mixture later.
2. Add the sugar to the lemon juice.
3. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved in the lemon juice.
4. Add the water.
Once the cake has finished baking, let it sit for two hours outside the oven to bring it to room temperature.
Note: Chiara, the author of the cookbook, writes that before you are ready to add the lemonade mixture to the cake you want to ensure that the cake does not stick to the pan. This is important as you begin to coat the cake with the lemonade mixture while it is still in the cake pan. If it is stuck to the pan before you begin this step it will be even more difficult to remove the cake later.
If you let the cake cool, the butter solidifies leaving a risk the cake may stay stuck to the pan and gives these steps to avoid sticking:
1. Place a plate on top of the cake pan.
2. Tip the cake pan over and carefully shake the cake out of the pan.
3. Immediately place the cake back into the cake pan.
4. Carefully turn the pan back over.
5. Remove the plate to expose the cake.
Note: If the cake does seem to want to stick to the pan, you will need to place the cake back in the oven for a few minutes to warm the butter and release the cake from the pan.
When you pour the lemonade on the cake, there is a special process to ensure this is as effective and consistent as possible:
1. For 30 minutes: Slowly pour a little bit of the lemonade mixture all over the cake in the pan every 10 minutes (three times total). This will allow the cake to absorb the lemonade mixture very slowly. You should NOT have used all of the lemonade mixture at this point.
2. After the first 30 minutes, tip the cake onto a serving platter and add the remaining lemonade to the top of the cake, distributing it evenly all over the cake.
3. Note: If you feel the cake is too dry, you may make a little more lemonade.
Garnish the cake with chopped hazelnuts if using, and enjoy!
Serves 10 to 12
Courtesy of Mamma Agata: Simple and Genuine Cookbook by Chiara Lima. Chiara Lima is Mamma Agata’s daughter. They live in a farmhouse, which also serves as the cooking school, on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Chiara has put together a wonderful Italian cookbook that gives you some of the culinary secrets of her mother.
Bits & Pieces
This cake has a great taste…especially using Meyer lemons! That’s what I used because I’m such a fan of their taste. They also seem to have more juice per lemon than other types.
One thing I would change in this recipe is NOT to use all of the juice. The next time I make this, and I will, I’ll follow the first set of instructions on using the lemon juice at 10 minute intervals. Once I invert the cake onto my serving dish, I’ll refrain from adding the rest of the juice. When you serve a slice of the cake you will know if more lemon juice is needed. I found that the cake was too wet when serving. While it didn’t detract from the taste, it made it difficult to grab a slice and run…without using a plate.
Just because I think natural food is beautiful….