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Limoncello Mascarpone Cake with Lemon Curd 

Limoncello Mascarpone Cake with Lemon Curd is moist, light, and citrusy.  The tender cake is lightly flavored with Limoncello and layered with a fluffy mascarpone cream frosting and sweet, tangy lemon curd.

A layer cake with whipped cream and lemon curd between the layers and on top of the cake with a slice missing.

This Italian cake is what a lemon lover’s dreams are made of.  It is truly hard to resist.  The lemon cake layers are subtly flavored with Italy’s favorite lemon liqueur and are incredibly moist and tender.  But the toppings take this cake to a whole other level. The mascarpone whipped cream frosting is creamy and refreshing, while the addition of homemade lemon curd adds extra lemon flavor to this delicious cake.   

This Limoncello cake with mascarpone frosting is perfect for a spring or summer celebration but it is easy enough to make any time you are craving a lemony dessert. 

​What is Limoncello?

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur primarily made in the southern Italian regions of the Amalfi coast and Sicily.  It is the second most popular liqueur in Italy, next to Campari, and is enjoyed chilled after a meal as a digestivo.

It is made from the zest of the lemon with the pith removed.  A good limoncello should have lots of fresh lemon flavor without acidity or bitterness.  This bright yellow liqueur is so popular that many Italian families proudly make their own version at home.  

What is Mascarpone?

If you have ever had Tiramisu then you have had mascarpone cheese.  It is a rich creamy Italian cheese with a slightly sweet flavor and very smooth texture.  Italians often use this as a key ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.  Foodnetwork provides a good overview of Mascarpone cheese.  

Ingredients Needed for the Limoncello Cake Recipe

The ingredients for making a cake on a wooden background with labels over each item.

For the Cake

  • All-purpose Flour:  Measure the flour by spooning it into your measuring cup and leveling it off with a knife or a straight edge.  
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Make sure that your leavening agents are fresh so that your cake layers rise properly.
  • Salt:  I recommend using table salt rather than Kosher salt in this recipe.
  • Whole Eggs: It is best to let the eggs come to room temperature so that they blend easily with the sugar.
  • Granulated Sugar: The sugar will give the cake just the right amount of sweetness.
  • Vegetable Oil: I recommend using an oil that will not add any flavor to the cake.  Vegetable oil will provide moisture without imparting any additional flavors. 
  • Plain Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt provides acidity to activate the leavening agents and gives the cake a moist tender crumb.  You can use sour cream in place of the Greek yogurt.
  • Milk: I use whole milk but you can also use milk with lower fat content as well.  
  • Limoncello:  The liqueur gives the cake a light lemony flavor.  

For the Whipped Mascarpone Frosting and Lemon Curd Layers

  • Mascarpone Cheese:  The cheese should be cold.
  • Heavy Cream:  Should also be very cold.
  • Confectioners Sugar: You want to use powdered sugar so that it sweetens the frosting without creating a grainy texture.
  • Vanilla Extract: If you want the flavor of lemon in the frosting as well you can substitute Lemon extract.
  • Lemon Curd: I use my easy homemade lemon curd, but you can also use a ready-made version.  

Step By Step Instructions

Make the Cake

Grease and flour two 8″ or 9″ cake pans and set aside.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.

Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and light yellow.  Beat in the Greek yogurt until blended and then continue to beat the batter while adding the vegetable oil in a stream.  

Mix the milk and limoncello.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter, mixing to combine, then add 1/2 of the liquid mixture. Continue alternating the dry and liquid ingredients, finishing with the dry ingredients.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake in a pre-heated 325-degree F oven for 25-30 minutes.  The cakes should start to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them. 

Make the Mascarpone Frosting

With the mixer beat the mascarpone in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the heavy cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. 

Assemble the Cake

Place one of the cake layers upside down on a serving plate, spread 1/2 of the mascarpone whipped cream on the cake, and then carefully top it with 1/2 of the lemon curd. 

Place the second cake layer on top and finish the top of the cake with another layer of mascarpone frosting and lemon curd.

Cover and refrigerate the cake for about 2 hours before serving.  

A two layer cake with mascarpone cream and lemon curd between the layers and on top of the cake.

Baking Tips

  • Don’t over-beat the cake batter. As soon as all of the flour is blended into the batter stop beating so that you don’t introduce too much gluten into the cake.  
  • Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often so all of the ingredients are well mixed.  
  • The mascarpone and heavy cream should be cold so they whip into stiff peaks.
  • Stop beating the frosting as soon as stiff peaks so that the mixture does not curdle.

Storage and Make Ahead Recommendations

The assembled cake should be covered and refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.  You can make the whole cake up to 2 days in advance as long as you cover it well and refrigerate it.  

Leftovers will stay fresh for several days in the refrigerator if covered with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a cake dome.

The unfrosted cake layers can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.

A slice of limoncello cake with mascarpone cream and lemon curd between the layers and on top of the cake in front of the cake that is on a cake plate with a pedestal.

FAQ’s

Is Mascarpone the same as cream cheese?

Mascarpone and cream cheese may look similar in that they are both spreadable, but they are very different.  Cream cheese is made from milk and mascarpone is made from cream, so where cream cheese has about 33% milk fat, mascarpone is full-fat cream.  Mascarpone is softer and smoother than cream cheese.  Mascarpone is also slightly sweet tasting, whereas cream cheese has a tangy flavor.

Does Limoncello cake contain alcohol?

The short answer to this question is yes, Limoncello cake does contain alcohol.  Although the amount present in one slice is not enough to get you drunk, it is still there.  
Unfortunately, the assumption that all of the alcohol evaporates during cooking is not true.  According to Foodnetwork, the USDA conducted a study and found that all of the alcohol does not burn off during cooking or baking.  After about 15 minutes of cooking, there is still about 40% of the alcohol left in the dish.   After 1 hour, 25% of the alcohol remains, and after 2 1/2 hours only 5% is still present.

More Recipes for Lemon Lovers

If you are cooking or baking for a lemon-loving group, I have you covered!  

Some of my lemon desserts with bright, sweet flavors are soft Lemon Ricotta CookiesLemon Meringue Pie, and Lemon Pistachio Biscotti.  

We love to add lemon to savory dishes as well, especially chicken and seafood.  My Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken and Chicken Limone are big on flavor but easy to make. Shrimp Oreganata and  Lemon Pepper Salmon are family favorites perfect for a special occasion or a simple date night dinner. 

More Cake Recipes to try

Whether it is a celebration or a family dinner, cake is always a good dessert option and I have some recipes that you will love! From simple cakes like my citrusy Orange Cake or Italian Almond Cake to decadent Chocolate Mocha Cake and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting there is something for everyone.

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Limoncello Mascarpone Cake recipe or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest for more recipes your family will love!

Limoncello Mascarpone Cake Recipe

A layer cake with whipped cream and lemon curd between the layers and on top of the cake with a slice missing.

Limoncello Mascarpone Cake with Lemon Curd

Incredibly moist cake layers with the lightly flavored with Limoncello liqueur are topped with a fluffy refreshing whipped mascarpone frosting and citrusy lemon curd. A perfect dessert for a spring or summer celebration!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Assemble the Cake 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 servings
Calories 624 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • cups All purpose flour
  • tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 3 Eggs large
  • cups Sugar
  • ½ cup Vegetable Oil
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • cup Limoncello
  • cup Milk

Mascarpone Frosting

  • 8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • cup Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ cup Lemon Curd

Instructions
 

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325℉. Grease and flour two 8" or 9" cake pans and set aside. 
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and light yellow.  Beat in the Greek yogurt until blended and then continue to beat the batter while adding the vegetable oil in a stream.  
  • Mix the milk and limoncello.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter, mixing to combine, then add 1/2 of the liquid mixture. Continue alternating the dry and liquid ingredients, finishing with the dry ingredients.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  The cakes should start to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them. 

Mascarpone Frosting

  • With the mixer beat the mascarpone in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the heavy cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the Cake

  • Place one of the cake layers upside down on a serving plate, spread 1/2 of the mascarpone whipped cream on the cake, and then carefully top it with 1/2 of the lemon curd. Place the second cake layer on top and finish the top of the cake with another layer of mascarpone frosting and lemon curd. Cover and refrigerate the cake for about 2 hours before serving. 

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Baking Tips

  • Don’t over-beat the cake batter. As soon as all of the flour is blended into the batter stop beating so that you don’t introduce too much gluten into the cake.  
  • Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often so all of the ingredients are well mixed.  
  • The mascarpone and heavy cream should be cold so they whip into stiff peaks.
  • Stop beating the frosting as soon as stiff peaks so that the mixture does not curdle.
 
Scroll up for storage and make ahead recommendations.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 624kcalCarbohydrates: 68gProtein: 9gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 385mgPotassium: 102mgFiber: 1gSugar: 44gVitamin A: 752IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 116mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Liqueur, dairy, refreshing, summer, spring, lemon flavored
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a lemon lovers’s dream dessert! The lemon curd is wonderful and the cake balances it out beautifully. 👍👍

    1. Thank you Eleni! I am so happy that you enjoyed this cake. Being a lemon lover myself, I have to agree that it is a dream dessert!

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