Calamansi Liqueur Cake

Yes, another calamansi cake, because we love our little citrus so. Actually, we wouldn’t mind if we just kept making different kinds of calamansi cakes for a while – or at least until we run out of ideas. This one is lighter than our crumb cake, and decidedly not as bright, but it is undeniably more floral and fruity. Whereas the white pepper and ginger added different and sharper flavors to the previous cake, in this one nothing stands in the way of the calamansi flavor. Even the presence of the mint serves to enhances it – but if you prefer a different herb, we also recommend rosemary or thyme.

Once again, we’ve used lots of fresh juice and whole peels, but also a bit of La Manille calamansi liqueur. And we do mean just a bit. This unique local product looks adorable in this tiny 50ml bottle (which costs 79 pesos), but at 55 proof (or 27.5% alcohol) that’s all you’ll need. It’s strong but not overly sweet and despite being pretty boozy for a liqueur, it smells of fresh calamansi rinds. It’s perfect for baking. We might just use it in every recipe that requires lemon extract from now on. You can easily find La Manille calamansi liqueur at supermarkets, department stores and Filipiniana stores.

It’s a simple cake, but we think she’s a real looker. No frosting or thick glaze, but look at that golden brown and syrup-covered surface. We can’t think anything more inviting.

For the cake:
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
25 whole calamansi peels
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup calamansi juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp calamansi liqueur

For the calamansi liqueur syrup:
1/2 cup calamansi juice
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp calamansi liqueur
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Make your cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease and flour two 8×2 inch round cake pans or two 9×4 inch loaf pans. Line with parchment.

In one bowl, combine and whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Set aside.

Combine milk, calamansi juice and whole calamansi peels in a blender Blend well or until peels are finely shredded. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar and the chopped mint. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored.

Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add the vanilla and the calamansi liqueur.

Add flour mixture and yogurt mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.

Bake at 176°C/350°F for 40-45 minutes (rotate halfway through) or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the cake pans for at least 10 minutes.

Make your syrup. Combine calamansi juice, sugar, liqueur and chopped mint in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir occasionally. Allow the liquid to cool.

Put it together. Use a toothpick, knife or fork to poke little holes into your cakes. Carefully drizzle and brush the syrup over the tops. Let the cakes sit and soak another 10 minutes. Unmold from pans and serve.

Have some cake! Garnish with a sprig of fresh or candied mint. Serve with a bit of your favorite yogurt.

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