Limoncello Baba Cake Recipe

Limoncello Baba Cake is a small sweet cake or pastry, baked in individual molds, and made with a yeast dough containing raisins or currants.  In French, the word baba meaning, “falling over or dizzy.”  Baba cake is a yeasted cake that is typically soaked to the core in rum, but in Italy, the heart of limoncello production,  they soak their baba cakes in the bright yellow lemon limoncello liqueur syrup instead.  Excellent served with a dollop of lemon-scented whipped cream

After these cakes were soaked in the wine sauce for a day, the dried fruits would fall out of them.  This Limoncello Baba is a version of the famous Baba cakes.

View What’s Cooking America’s favor recipe on making Italian Limoncello.


 Limoncello Baba



Limoncello Baba Cake Recipe:
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Limoncello Baba Cake Recipe
Servings: 2 regular-size Babas or 30 to 36 small Babas
Limoncello Baba Cake:
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast or 1 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • Sweetened whipped cream (for garnish)
Limoncello Syrup:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Limoncello (or more to taste)
Limoncello Glaze:
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar Apricot jam
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Limoncello
Limoncello Baba Cake Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.  Butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray miniature muffin pans or regular muffin cups.

  2. For the sponge, heat 1/2 cup milk to lukewarm; sprinkle the yeast on the surface and allow to stand 5 minutes.  Whisk until smooth and stir in 3/4 cup flour.  Cover the sponge and let ferment 20 minutes.  NOTE: If you use instant yeast, you don't have to wait the 5 minutes and you can mix all the sponge ingredients at once.

  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, salt, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups flour together; beat in the prepared sponge, and then the cooled melted butter.

  4. Divide the dough into the muffin cups, filling them 1/2 full.  Cover the pans loosely with buttered plastic wrap; allow to rise in a warm spot approximately 30 to 60 minutes or until the dough has risen to the top of the cups.  At this stage, you can put the molds in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight until you are ready to proceed.

  5. When the dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake for approximately 10 to 20 minutes (depending on size of your muffin cups) or until golden brown. Remove from oven.  Allow to cool slightly in the pan for 1 minute on a rack.

  6. Using your fingers, one at a time, remove individual babas from muffin cups and submerge each baba into the warm Limoncello Syrup for approximately 1 minute or until they swell slightly.  Then place the dipped baba in a large baking dish or pan (tops up).  Repeat with the remaining babas.  After dipping all the babas, pour any leftover Limoncello Syrup over the top of the cakes.  Allow them to stand 1 hour (all of the syrup will be absorbed).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. /p>

  7. Before serving, brush tops of cakes with warm Limoncello Glaze.  Serve with whipped sweetened cream.

  8. NOTE:  Babas may be baked, soaked in syrup, and then cooled completely.  Freezer-wrap (pan and all); label and freeze.  To serve, let stand at room temperature 1 hour; then warm in 300 degree F. oven for 15 minutes.  Top with warm Limoncello Glaze and serve.

Limoncello Syrup Instructions:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, mix water and sugar together; bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour syrup into a 2-cup liquid measure (because it is narrow and deep, it is easy to dip the Babas into).  Cool syrup to lukewarm; stir in Limoncello.  If made in advance, syrup will keep for 6 months.

  2. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Limoncello Glaze Instructions:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat approximately 2/3 of a 12-ounce jar of apricot jam until melted.

  2. Remove from heat and pour the hot, lumpy jam through sieve (pushing on pulp with spatula).  Add Limoncello to taste. If made in advance, glaze will keep for 6 months.


Source:  Adapted from a recipe by Nick Malgieri, former Executive Pastry Chef at Windows on the World Restaurant in the former Trade Center in New York city.  Photo from Sorrento City Portal – Everything about our city.



Cake    Italian Recipes    Lemons    Sweet Yeast Breads   

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