delizia di limone

serves 10

for the sponge
Butter, for greasing
4 medium eggs
140g caster sugar
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

for the lemon custard
750ml milk
Zest of 1 lemon
6 medium egg yolks
6 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp plain flour
175ml double cream, lightly whipped to soft peaks

for the sponge syrup
50g caster sugar
25ml limoncello

to garnish
6 glacé cherries, halved
2 strips candied lemon peel, chopped
Zest of half a lemon
A little icing sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease 2 shallow rectangular tins, 30cm x 21cm, and line the bases with greaseproof paper. Beat together the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour and baking powder over the top and gently fold into the mixture using a large metal spoon. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level the surface. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and the sponge is soft. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

2 To make the custard, bring the milk and zest to the boil in a saucepan. Whisk together the yolks and sugar, then mix in the flour. When the milk is piping hot, slowly stir it into the egg mixture until combined. Return to the pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until you have a thick custard. Spoon into a bowl and cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Allow to cool, then chill.

3 For the syrup, place 50ml water in a pan with the sugar and heat gently to dissolve. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until syrupy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then stir in the limoncello.

4 Use a 7cm scone cutter to cut out 20 rounds from the sponges. Then use a 3.5cm round (the base of a piping nozzle is ideal) to cut out 10 circles from the remaining sponge pieces. Brush the large rounds with the syrup, then arrange half of them on a platter.

5 Fold the lightly whipped cream into the chilled custard using a large metal spoon, then carefully whisk using a balloon whisk until smooth. Spread a teaspoonful of lemon custard over each of the rounds on the platter. Layer the remaining large rounds on top and cover with custard as before.

6 Brush the little rounds with syrup and arrange one on top of each round of custard-covered sponge. Spoon the remaining custard over each round to cover, making sure there are no gaps.

7 Pipe small blobs of leftover custard in between each space on the sponge to fill in the holes. Place half a glacé cherry on top of each cake, then decorate with a few pieces of the candied peel. Finish with fresh lemon zest and a dusting of icing sugar