Like Angela and Guy, Limoncello and Basil make a beautiful marriage of flavors!
A slice of heaven, moist, airy, with a hint of lemon and basil.
Another cake, another story, a serious lesson, and a fabulous solution that led to this simply delectable cake. I think, for the kids, this could be the one. Only time and more cakes will tell. This is actually the cake that started me thinking that I could actually make cakes. About a year or so ago a friend told me about his mom’s vienna layer cake and how much he loved it and how much he missed her. Of course, I said if you can get me the recipe, I’ll make it for you! The recipe appeared a week or so later and I made the cake much to the delight of my friend. It reaffirmed, for me, that food is all about the love. The limoncello/basil combination was actually inspired by a cocktail that the kids and I tried recently. It was called a basilica and combined limoncello with fresh basil. It was so yummy! I actually think that we had a couple. Anyway, the serious lesson, whipping cream that has been infused and heated can not be whipped to soft peaks even after being chilled! Don’t ask why, because I don’t know, and honestly, I really don’t want to know. I had to think quickly and I came up with a solution, infuse whipping cream with basil, and add a few tablespoons to your plain whipping cream and whip until soft peaks form. It worked wonderfully! I am gaining confidence in my resourcefulness when baking problems arise. Hooray!
For The Cake:
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 teaspoons baking powder
6 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of milk
2 1/2 to 4 teaspoons limoncello, depending upon your taste. I used 4 teaspoons, if not more (The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract)
Extra limoncello for brushing the layers before frosting
For The Frosting:
1 8 oz container mascarpone cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups heavy cream, plus 1/4 cup to make basil infused cream
Small handful of fresh basil leaves
Pinch of kosher salt
For The Cake:
1. Grease and flour two 8″ cake pans and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Measure dry ingredients and set aside in one bowl.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer.
4. Add the egg yolks and mix.
5. With the mixer still going, slowly add the dry ingredients and milk alternating each until they are all in the mixer.
6. Next, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are white and fluffy (this is where an extra bowl for your mixer comes in handy).
7. Fold into the batter in mixer.
Note: The cakes come out fine if you add the eggs without separating them, however, the cake has a much lighter and airy texture if you separate them.
8. Add limoncello a teaspoon at a time until your desired taste.
9. Continue to mix the batter until smooth and velvety.
10. Pour batter evenly into the pans and bake for 55 minutes or until knife or cake tester, when inserted, comes out clean. I always keep an eye on my cakes because every oven is different.
11. Turn cakes out onto cooling racks and let cool completely before frosting.
Getting Ready To Frost:
Tip: To make cakes even, I just use a large serrated knife to shave a little off each cake. This way, I get to sample the cake too 🙂
1. With a pastry brush, brush each cake top thoroughly with the extra limoncello and set aside.
2. Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream in a saucepan until warm. Remove from heat and add your basil leaves and let steep for a few minutes, strain, and chill.
3. Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4. In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone, powdered sugar, and salt adding infused basil cream 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired taste. You do not have to use it all.
5. Gently fold cream into cheese mixture and frost.