Torta al Limone

Lemon Cake

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Positano, Italy

“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real.” John Steinbeck. Harper’s Bazaar, 1953

When I am sixty four, I will retire to Positano. It is a beautiful town, full of expensive boutiques and hotels. There is a small community of people who worked in the film and fashion industry in the 1950s and 1960s who try to maintain a semblance of La Dolce Vita, leading a pleasurable, decadent lifestyle!

You will love Positano too. There is a small port and a beach. Visit the boutiques, buy a fresh lemon sorbet from the street sellers, but most of all, go and seek out Bar Pasticcerie La Zagara. Fantastic food and wonderful desserts! Order their Torta al Limone, made with the local lemons. Wonderfully moist, sweet and tangy at the same time. This recipe replicates their dream-like cake.

Torte al Limone

Serves 6
140g (5oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing * 140g (5oz) caster sugar * 2 lemons, zest and juice * 3 eggs * 140g (5oz) self-raising flour * 2 tbsp milk * 1 tsp vanilla extract * icing sugar, for dusting * 85g (3oz) icing sugar

Grease and line a 900g loaf tin. Pre-heat the oven to 160oC/325oF/Gas Mark 3. Cream the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl until soft and light. Whisk the eggs and sift the flour. Gradually add the eggs and flour to the butter mixture. Beat well together. Stir in enough milk, along with the vanilla extract, to make the mixture drop easily from a spoon. Spread the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep the cake in its tin.

Make the syrup; gently heat together the icing sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan until a syrup forms. Use a fork to prick the top of the warm cake all over. Gently pour the syrup all over the cake and leave to cool completely. Turn out the lemon cake onto a plate and slice. Serve.

I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book: FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.

There are more recipes in the section THE ITALIAN JOB, a selection of authentic Italian recipes.