Lemon Almond Cake, known in Italy as Dolce di Amalfi, is a soft, rich, easy to make Italian cake.
The chopped almonds together with the zest of fresh lemons create a truly special combination. The consistency of this Almond and Lemon Cake is incredibly soft and moist enough to melt in the mouth.
We made the cake in the typical dome shape. Sal De Riso, a famous Neapolitan pastry chef, use it to make this cake and now in Italy it became the classic form for this dessert. The great pastry chef calls this cake “Dolce di Amalfi” in homage to his land and its products and to the sun that warms them, hence the choice of the hemisphere ball cake pan.
You must not confuse Lemon Almond Cake – Dolce di Amalfi with another classic of the Campania pastry: Lemon Torta Caprese. Both these cakes are made with almonds and lemon but they have different characteristics and ingredients.
For the perfect success of the Lemon Almond cake, you just get some excellent lemons, the organic ones with thick and porous skin like those typical of the Amalfi Coast.
You can choose whole almonds and chop them or the almond flour; the result does not change! The important thing is that they are of excellent quality.
Lemon Almond cake is perfect at any time of the day, for breakfast, for an afternoon snack or for a dessert, maybe matched with creams or gelato.
Assemble all the ingredients following the many steps below and you will bring to the table the softest, the best and most fragrant Lemon Almond Cake you have ever tasted!
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Italian Lemon Almond Cake Recipe
- Prep Time: 15 Min
- Cook Time: 1 Hour
- Yelds: 6
Doses for a 8 inch (20 cm) Hemisphere Ball Cake Pan
- 80 g (1/2 cup) of “00” flour
- 50 g (1/3 cup) of potato starch
- 100 g (1 cup) almond flour
- 150 g (1 1/2 cup) of icing sugar
- 125 g (2/3 cup) of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 100 ml (1/2 cup) of fresh milk at room temperature
- 16 g (1 tablespoon) of baking powder
- lemon zest from 3 organic lemons
- 2 whole medium eggs
- icing sugar for decoration
- 2 tablespoons of corn flour for the cake pan
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
For this Lemon Almond Cake we opted for an electric stand mixer that really is a great help for a perfect Dolce d’Amalfi. We recommend the KitchenAid, but there are other really great brands. It’s essential in this recipe to add the ingredients always stirring to mix them quickly. You can also make Dolce di Amalfi with an electric hand mixer.
A really useful tool for this recipe is a good hand grater for citrus zest.
Furthermore, if you decide to grind whole almonds, a fairly powerful electric chopper will be essential. You don’t just have to chop the almonds, but you have to chop them almost to make them a fairly fine flour.
We chose, as we said, a hemisphere ball cake pan, in the keeping with tradition. But of course you can use the cake mold you prefer. The doses indicated are for a 20 cm (8 inch) cake pan. For example, a bundt cake pan is also widely used for this cake.
Finally, very useful to preserve the softness of Lemon Almond Cake, is a Cake Stand with Dome Cover.
Step 1) – First of all, grate the zest of the lemons. Be careful to grate only the superficial, yellow part. The white part underneath may make the cake bitter.
Then, if you don’t use almond flour, grind the almonds with an electric grinder then set the almond flour aside (see the paragraph below how to make “Homemade Almond Flour”).
Step 2) – Add the lemon zest to the butter at room temperature. Mix well, to make a smooth, soft flavored butter and lemon cream.
Step 3) – Place the buttercream and lemon zest in a bowl and add the powdered sugar. Using an electric mixer or planetary mixer, beat the cream for about 2 minutes or as long as it takes to get a frothy, smooth cream.
Now add the eggs one at a time and beat on high speed. When the first egg is perfectly absorbed, add the second one. Continue to whisk until the mixture is velvety; it will take about 5 minutes.
Step 4) – Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the powders together. Mix the baking powder with the flour and sift them together. Then add the almond flour and potato starch.
Step 5) – Now add two tablespoons of the flour mixture to the butter and egg cream, keeping mixing on low speed.
Step 6) – Then add the milk, mixing slowly. Finally incorporate the rest of the flours. Mix well for about 2 minutes, just long enough for your lemon almond cake batter to be soft and fluffy.
Step 7) – Prepare the cake pan. Grease it very well all over with butter and then sprinkle it with corn flour. Not only will this ensure that the cake doesn’t stick to the mold, it will also form a nice crispy crust on the surface of the cake.
Step 8) – Pour the cake batter into the greased and floured cake pan and level it well.
To keep the hemisphere ball cake pan from moving or wobbling while baking, we recommend placing it in the oven on top of a circle made with aluminum foil.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160° C (320 F ) for about 1 hour.
Step 9) – Once the cake is baked, turn off the oven and leave the lemon almond cake in the semi-open oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
Then take it out of the oven and let it rest at room temperature about 20 minutes before flipping it over.
Step 10) – Let the cake cool completely before slicing!
As soon as it’s warm it’s delicious and melts in your mouth, but it’s so soft and moist that it’s hard to cut nice slices. When it has cooled, you’ll be able to cut the cake into slices perfectly. The next day it will be even better, still soft and moist but firmer.
Decorate with plenty of powdered sugar and serve.
Lemon almond cake keeps perfectly for 5-6 days at room temperature in a cake stand with dome.
What Are the Best Lemons to Use to Make Lemon Almond Cake?
The best varieties of lemons for the preparation of Dolce di Amalfi, of course, are those from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast: the famous “Femminello di Santa Teresa” and the “Sfusato Amalfitano“. These lemons are very rich in essential oils and beneficial properties and give the cake its wonderful flavor.
If you don’t have Sorrento and Amalfi lemons, don’t worry! Lemons of other varieties are fine too, such as Eureka or Lisbon lemons, widely grown in Florida and California for example.
In general, lemons with a rough, thick skin are preferred, but most importantly, they should be organic lemons with edible skin.
Homemade Almond Flour
Ready made almond flour often contains preservatives, natural flavors and sugars. So if you have good quality almonds available, we recommend using these ones chopped instead of ready-to-use almond flour.
You can use both almonds with the peel and peeled almonds.
In the first case you will get a darker and coarser flour and the texture of the cake will be more rustic.
In the second case, you’ll get a finer, lighter flour and a more refined cake texture.
It depends on your taste!
Tips and Tricks to Get a Perfect Homemade Almond Flour
We recommend cooling the almonds before chopping them, this way you will prevent the oils contained in the almonds from coming out and giving an unpleasant taste to your recipes.
So, put the almonds in a plastic bag or glass jar and put them in the freezer for 1 hour.
When they are cold, place them in the food processor and run it on pulse for 5 or 6 seconds at a time until you get a fine almond flour.
This precaution will prevent the almonds from heating up and releasing the oil they contain.
Homemade almond flour should be stored in a glass jar, in the refrigerator for about 2 months.
Lemon Almond Cake Variants
Lemon almond cake is a very simple recipe that can be enriched without changing its taste and characteristics.
Many people add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped candied lemon peel to the dough. This makes the lemon aroma even more intense.
Another very common variation is made by adding 40 ml (1/6 cup) of Limoncello liqueur to the cake batter.
Limoncello is another famous specialty typical of the Amalfi Coast which exalts the aroma of lemons to the maximum. They frequently use it in cakes and savor it at the end of meals as a digestive.
Dolce di Amalfi Story