Moist & Buttery Lemon Cake!

Last week I posted the recipe for Limoncello from Mamma Agata’s cookbook, “Simple and Genuine.”  Since I had lemons on hand I couldn’t resist making her Lemon Cake that she has made over the years for many famous stars such as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  Apparently Bogey loved her lemon cake, just as I’m sure you will when you make it.
I think you’ll agree this cake is moist, buttery and delicious!
Below is Mamma Agata’s Lemon Cake recipe from “Simple and Genuine.”  For more luscious recipes you can order her book here.

Be sure to read this recipe through before beginning.  Mise en place all ingredients as well.
Dolce al limone di Mamma Agata
(Mamma Agata’s Lemon Cake)

300 gr or 1 1/4 cups sugar

250 gr or 2 sticks butter (1/2 lb), PLUS an additional 1.5 Tablespoons butter, to grease the pan

4 eggs

Grated zest of 2 large lemons (4 lemons, if small) – use organic whenever you can 

A pinch Sea salt

300 gr or 2 cups “00” Flour
16 gr or 2 tablespoons of Pan degli Angeli Italian baking powder
 (I used regular American baking powder)
125 ml or 1/2 cup whole milk

50 gr or 1/4 cup hazelnuts (finely chopped and toasted) (I omitted)
Lemonade Mixture:
300 ml or 1 1/4 cups water
Juice of 3 lemons
8 Tablespoons sugar
1 ) Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whip the butter in a mixing bowl on high speed for at least two minutes.
2 ) Add the sugar and continue to whip until a soft cream forms. Mix the baking powder into the flour and set aside.
3 ) Add the following ingredients to the mixing bowl, one at a time, and blend after each:
  • Eggs, one at a time,
  • grated lemon zest


4 ) Alternate adding and blending the following ingredients into the mixing bowl: 
Flour and baking powder mixture and milk. 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.


5 ) Mix the ingredients on medium speed for about five minutes until the texture of the batter has a light and airy consistency (similar to a mousse). NOTE: Do not beat the batter for longer than five minutes after adding the baking powder.
6 ) Coat the surface of the fluted pan with butter before dusting it with flour. Shake off any excess flour before adding your cake batter to the pan. NOTE: This step creates a non-stick surface so that the cake will easily release from the pan and retain its shape.
7 ) Pour the batter into your greased and floured pan.
8 ) Bake the cake in the pre-heated oven for forty minutes.
9 ) While the cake is baking in the oven, prepare the lemonade mixture as follows.
10 ) Squeeze the lemons into a pitcher (or other container from which you can easily pour the lemonade mixture later). Add the sugar to the lemon juice.
 Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved in the lemon juice. Add the water.
11 ) Once the lemon cake is finished baking, let it sit for two hours outside the oven to bring it to room temperature.
12 ) Before we start this process, we want to ensure that the cake does NOT stick to the pan. In getting it to room temperature, the butter has solidified and that means there is a risk that the cake will stick to the pan. Here is the process just to ensure it does NOT stick to the pan before we proceed.
13 ) Place a plate on top of the pan. Tip the pan over and carefully shake the cake out of the pan. Immediately, place the cake pan back onto the cake. Carefully turn the pan back over. Remove the plate to expose the cake. This will seem like we have done nothing, but what we have done is to ensure that the cake will not stick later when we are ready to plate it.
4 ) NOTE: If the cake does seem like it wants to stick, you will need to place the cake back in the oven for a few minutes, just to warm the butter, and it will release from the pan easily.
15 ) Now it is time to add the lemonade mixture to the cake – that is what makes it so moist.
16 ) Over thirty minutes: Slowly pour a little bit of the lemonade mixture all over the cake in the pan every ten minutes (i.e. three times in 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.
7 ) After thirty minutes, tip the lemon cake onto a serving plate and add the remaining lemonade to the top of the cake, distributing it evenly all over the cake. NOTE: If you feel that the cake is still too dry, you may make a little more of the lemonade.
18 ) Garnish the cake with finely chopped hazelnuts and enjoy!
This recipe looks more complicated than it is.  Just be sure to read through the entire recipe 1-2x before starting.  If you love lemons you’ll adore this cake.

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  1. Sounds like a nice cake. Lemon is one of my fav flavors, so of course I’m interested in this. The recipe seems pretty straightforward – but I’m not that much of a baker (my wife is), so that’s easy for me to say. The biggest worry seems to be about the cake sticking to the pan, and the procedure to avoid it makes sense. I know there are nonstick fluted cake pans; I assume one of those would help? Bet part of the recipe is adding the lemonade to the cake – sort of liquid icing! My mom used to bake a spice cake using a similar technique (she used OJ instead of lemon). Good recipe – thanks.

    • I have a non-stick bundt pan and I still coat it for extra protection. There’s nothing worse than making a cake and going to all the trouble than to have it stick and fall apart upon flipping it over. I’m sure you’re wife will make it perfect.

      I thought about even using the Lemoncello I made last week instead of the lemonade but decided to stick to the recipe for now. It’s so tasty in fact, it’s already gone. Company gobbled it up.

      Yes your moms cake sounds similar. I’ll bet that was really good with OK added to it. My sons favorite is a fuzzy navel cake which is similar in the sense of adding the liquid. Hmm, I’ve never posted that recipe!

  2. Lemon and buttery are the magic words, Vicki! The cake looks so moist and tender. I love baking bundt cakes and this one has now become a must try!

  3. I can’t stress enough that I love citrus in sweets! Moist – check, buttery – check…yum, and citrus flavor – check! Sounds perfect for my liking! Beautiful bundt cake! Oh I still need to buy the mold~~~! Looks very delicious Vicki!

  4. So moist, dense and flavoursome my friend, an irresistible creation 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  5. I do love lemon and lemon desserts and would really like to try it with the hazelnuts.

    I have one question. Can regular AP flour be used instead of the ’00’ flour? If not, I believe Williams Sonoma or Whole Foods may carry it.

    • I added a link to read about oo flour, where it’s list as an ingredient. I had never used it myself but after reading about it, the consensus was that it makrs everything lighter and fluffier. AP flour would be fine but more dense, at least its my understanding. It wouldn’t be bad but not as light.

      As for the hazelnuts, I left those out because some family members are allergic to nuts.. I did also have berries on hand that some of us added to the slices. It made the cake taste that much better.

  6. Hi Vicki,
    This bundt cake looks awesome! I love bundt cakes, they look so pretty. Lemon cake has to be on top of my list for favorite desserts.
    I would love to eat this with a hot cup of “chai”.

  7. My hubby would love this one! And he’d be tickled knowing it was a favorite of Bogeys 🙂

  8. Wow a recipe that Humphrey Bogart loved is not your usual kind of recipe! I’m really intrigued by this based on that alone (and the fact that it looks so scrumptious!) 🙂

  9. Bogart’s fave ?! Cool ! By the look of it , I’m not surprised ! I’m drooling just by thinking of this moist and buttery cake ! Lemons ?! ’nuff said ! ;D

  10. Oh – lemony, buttery and moist! So YUMMY!

  11. I love lemon cake, and this one sounds amazing. If it’s good enough for Humphrey Bogart, it’s good enough for me!

  12. We adore tangy citrus sweets and my mouth waters just writing that down. Delish!

  13. I just can’t resist a buttery, lemony and moist lemon cake;-)
    This recipe sounds like a real keeper and I love the history, all great cakes should have a history or be creating a history,lol!
    Have a wonderful weekend;-)

  14. This sounds like a pretty delicious cake. Step 13 and 14 seemed complicated at first but once I read it again I followed it. This is a must try cake.

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