Mom remembers drinking chokecherry juice and gooseberry juice at breakfast when she was growing up. Reason being that oranges didn’t grow in upstate New York, so orange juice was not on the menu at her house. Even though it meant some awfully tart (and not very tasty!) juice to start the day, Grandma and Grandpa believed in using what they had on hand. Bad breakfast memories aside, Mom passed that sentiment on to me. As my husband can attest, this can lead to some interesting culinary adventures.
A friend gave us a bottle of homemade limoncello as a gift a while back.
Jim and I aren’t big liqueur drinkers so I’ve been stumped as to how to use it. But I held on to it, waiting until the right opportunity to use limoncello came along. And it did. Not long ago I was looking through a magazine and would you believe I came across a limoncello cake recipe? I had never even heard of it before getting some as a gift, but happily stumbled across a recipe that features it. I made the cake this week for my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday party.
Limoncello is lemon liqueur made from vodka, lemon zest and simple syrup. It’s potent, as well as sweet and tart. Although I know a primary rule of baking is “stick to the recipe,” I modify recipes to use ingredients I already have on hand, which sometimes leads to interesting substitutions. I made a few changes in the original recipe in this case, which appeared in a vegan cookbook. Here’s what I used, in case you, too, have some limoncello to use up around your house:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1/3 cup limoncello
3 cups flour (mix of white and white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated citrus peel (I used orange)
GLAZE: Mix 2 tablespoons softened margarine with 1/4 cup limoncello and 2 cups confectioner’s sugar. Beat until smooth.
CAKE: Cream together sugar and margarine, mix in applesauce, egg, evaporated milk and limoncello. Add remaining ingredients and beat 2 to 3 minutes. Pour batter into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake about 1 hour at 325 F, until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto wire rack. After cake has cooled, top with glaze, if desired.
This is one of the moistest cakes I’ve ever made. It might even work with other liqueurs, if you try it let me know!