Amalfi-Style Lemon Cake | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Amalfi-Style Lemon Cake

Amalfi-Style Lemon Cake

1 hour 25 minutes active, plus cooling

Amalfi-Style Lemon Cake

Free

Giovanna Aceto, whose family owns a generations-old lemon farm on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, showed us how to make torta al limone, a simple lemon cake popular throughout the region. Naturally, Aceto used farm-grown lemons, a variety called sfusato amalfitano that mature to the size of softballs; the fruits are wonderfully fragrant and have a subtle sweetness. Lucky for us, in recipes such as torta al limone, regular supermarket lemons work perfectly well, as their tartness can be offset by adding a little more sugar. Lemon zest perfumes the cake, then a lemon syrup is poured on after baking to keep the crumb moist and add a layer of tangy-sweet flavor. We use a Bundt pan as a substitute for the conical fluted pan that Aceto uses for her torta. The fastest, simplest way to prep the Bundt pan is with baking spray, which is similar to cooking spray, but with added flour. Alternatively, mix 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1½ tablespoons flour, then brush the mixture onto the pan, making sure to coat all the peaks and valleys.

10 to 12

Servings

Tip

Don’t forget to grate the zest before juicing the lemons; grating is much easier when the fruits are whole. Also, don’t allow the cake to cool for more than about 10 minutes before the first application of syrup. Absorption is better and more even when the crumb is warm. But after pouring on the second half of the syrup, don’t let the cake cool for longer than 30 minutes or it may be difficult to remove it from the pan.

1 hour

25 minutes active, plus cooling

428 grams (2 cups) white sugar, divided
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¾ cup lemon juice
260 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
198 grams (14 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
Ingredients
  • 428

    grams (2 cups) white sugar, divided

  • 2

    tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¾ cup lemon juice

  • 260

    grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour

  • 2

    teaspoons baking powder

  • ½

    teaspoon table salt

  • 198

    grams (14 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature

  • 3

    large eggs, room temperature

  • ½

    cup whole milk, room temperature

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with baking spray. In a small saucepan, combine 214 grams (1 cup) of sugar and the lemon juice. Cook over medium-high, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour into a 2-cup glass measuring cup or small bowl; you should have about 1¼ cups syrup. Cool while you make and bake the cake.
  2. 02
    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 214 grams (1 cup) sugar and the lemon zest on medium until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add the butter and beat on medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. 03
    With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Increase to medium and beat until well aerated, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add about one-third of the flour mixture followed by about half of the milk. Next, add about half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk and finally the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low until just combined, about 1 minute. Fold the batter a few times with the spatula to ensure no pockets of flour remain; the batter will be thick.
  4. 04
    Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake about 2 inches from the edge comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. 05
    Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Poke the cake with a toothpick every ½ inch or so, inserting the toothpick as deeply as possible into the cake. Slowly pour half of the syrup evenly over the cake, then let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the syrup to soak in.
  6. 06
    Slowly pour the remaining syrup onto the cake, then cool for 30 minutes. If the cake looks stuck to the sides in any spots, including the center tube, carefully loosen those areas by inserting a thin-bladed knife between the cake and the pan. Invert the cake onto a platter, lift off the pan and cool to room temperature.
Tip: Don’t forget to grate the zest before juicing the lemons; grating is much easier when the fruits are whole. Also, don’t allow the cake to cool for more than about 10 minutes before the first application of syrup. Absorption is better and more even when the crumb is warm. But after pouring on the second half of the syrup, don’t let the cake cool for longer than 30 minutes or it may be difficult to remove it from the pan.
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Amalfi-Style Lemon Cake

Get Ready to Cook

10 to 12

Servings

1 hour

25 minutes active, plus cooling

Tip

Don’t forget to grate the zest before juicing the lemons; grating is much easier when the fruits are whole. Also, don’t allow the cake to cool for more than about 10 minutes before the first application of syrup. Absorption is better and more even when the crumb is warm. But after pouring on the second half of the syrup, don’t let the cake cool for longer than 30 minutes or it may be difficult to remove it from the pan.

Ingredients
  • 428

    grams (2 cups) white sugar, divided

  • 2

    tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¾ cup lemon juice

  • 260

    grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour

  • 2

    teaspoons baking powder

  • ½

    teaspoon table salt

  • 198

    grams (14 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature

  • 3

    large eggs, room temperature

  • ½

    cup whole milk, room temperature

Step 1 of 6

Make the Syrup

214
grams (1 cups) white sugar
¾
cup lemon juice

Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with baking spray.


In a small saucepan, combine 214 grams (1 cup) of sugar and the lemon juice. Cook over medium-high, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour into a 2-cup glass measuring cup or small bowl; you should have about 1¼ cups syrup. Cool while you make and bake the cake.

Step 2 of 6

Make the Flour Mixture

260
grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2
teaspoons baking powder
½
teaspoon table salt
214
grams (1 cups) white sugar
2
tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¾ cup lemon juice
198
grams (14 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.


In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 214 grams (1 cup) sugar and the lemon zest on medium until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice.


Add the butter and beat on medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed, 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 3 of 6

Make the Batter

3
large eggs, room temperature
½
cup whole milk, room temperature

With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Increase to medium and beat until well aerated, about 3 minutes.


With the mixer running on low, add about one-third of the flour mixture followed by about half of the milk. Next, add about half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk and finally the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low until just combined, about 1 minute.


Fold the batter a few times with the spatula to ensure no pockets of flour remain; the batter will be thick.

Step 4 of 6

Bake

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake about 2 inches from the edge comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Step 5 of 6

Let Cool

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Poke the cake with a toothpick every ½ inch or so, inserting the toothpick as deeply as possible into the cake. Slowly pour half of the syrup evenly over the cake, then let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the syrup to soak in.

Step 6 of 6

Pour the Syrup

Slowly pour the remaining syrup onto the cake, then cool for 30 minutes. If the cake looks stuck to the sides in any spots, including the center tube, carefully loosen those areas by inserting a thin-bladed knife between the cake and the pan. Invert the cake onto a platter, lift off the pan and cool to room temperature.

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