Ring in spring with luscious lemon basil cake from Coque's star chef, Mario Sandoval

Chef Mario Sandoval and his brothers Rafael and Diego have combined their gastronomic talents to earn their restaurant, Coque – located in the heart of Madrid – two Michelin stars, three Repsol suns, and even more accolades. Here, the chef shares one of his favourite desserts from Coque's menu, lemon basil cake, to offer aspiring pastry chefs an opportunity to recreate his restaurant's culinary magic at home.

Restaurante Coque

After being in the hospitality business and cooking in the same Humanes de Madrid building for more than four decades, the Sandoval family is now led by its third generation of restaurateurs, brothers Mario, Rafael, and Diego, with their two-Michelin-star, three-Repsol-sun dream, Coque. Mario Sandoval helms the kitchen with a focus on gastronomic research and applying innovative culinary techniques to the freshest local ingredients. Rafael handles the 3,000-plus wines, and Diego works his magic with the front of the house. As the chef explains it, "The result is a project that transmits our current strength and also prepares us for the next evolutionary phase of the restaurant."




Since most food fanatics won't be able to experience Coque's remarkable cuisine in person right now, Chef Mario Sandoval wanted to share one of his favourite desserts from the menu, lemon basil cake, so ambitious cooks could recreate it at home and become inspired to be a master pastry chef for a day. The cake embodies the chef's philosophy of evoking flavour, purity, technique, and evolution in his cuisine. He uses citrus in a variety of ways to give the cake a sweet and tart balance under the aromatic umbrella of fresh basil. As Sandoval put it, "If I have selected this sweet recipe for Priceless Cities, it is because it will make you look like a real chef and it will surely surprise your guests. With this dish, you can complete any menu at home in style and at any time of the year."


Download recipe:  Priceless Cookbook - Chef Mario Sandoval's Lemon Basil Cake


It starts with vanilla pâte sucrée, or sweet dough, that forms the crust of the delectable treat. Then come the citrus components, prepared in three parts: a delightful lemon marmalade with notes of basil and more vanilla; a sweet cream spiked with lemon zest; and a luxurious lemon meringue. Finally, the cake is lightly caramelised with a torch and topped with fresh basil leaves and bright lemon zest. "It is a classic pastry recipe, but with very original flavours and a contrast of very pleasant nuances on the palate," said the chef. "I hope you prepare it at home and enjoy it."


Chef Mario Sandoval's Lemon Basil Cake




SERVING SIZE: 4 people




For the vanilla pâté sucrée

  • 150g butter at room temperature
  • 95g powdered sugar
  • 30g almond powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 2g salt
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 250g flour


For the lemon marmalade

  • 250g lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 85g sugar
  • A small bunch of basil


For the lemon meringue

  • 3 egg whites
  • 175g sugar
  • 50ml water
  • Lemon & lime zest


For the lemon cream

  • 200ml lemon juice
  • Lemon zest
  • 4g of gelatin
  • 4 eggs
  • 125g sugar
  • 125g cold butter





Vanilla pâté sucrée

  1. Whip the butter with the powdered sugar.
  2. Add egg and the salt, then the flour and the almond powder; avoid overbeating the dough.
  3. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic film, and refridgerate for two hours.
  4. After that time, flour the dough and roll it out 4 mm thick.
  5. Refrigerate for another 20 minutes.
  6. Cut the dough with a round pastry cutter, cover the mould and cut the surplus off.
  7. Refrigerate for 15 more minutes.
  8. Bake the base at 150 Cº for 20 minutes.


Lemon jam

  1. Peel the lemons, cut them in 8 pieces, and put them into a small saucepan.
  2. Add the vanilla pod and the sugar. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes over low heat.
  3. Uncover and boil for another 15 minutes.
  4. Mash and allow to cool.
  5. Add the basil.
  6. Allow the mixture to cool completely.


Lemon cream

  1. Add water to the gelatin according to package directions and set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs with the sugar.
  3. Add the lemon juice and zest.
  4. Put over the stove, bring it to boiling point and set aside.
  5. Add the gelatin and mix it together until the temperature decreases to 40 Cº.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the cold butter in pieces. Mix with a blender.


Lemon meringue

  1. Heat the water and the sugar together.
  2. Whip the egg whites.
  3. When the syrup is at 118 Cº, pour over the whites and beat everything together.


Assembly and presentation

  1. Cover the pâté sucrée with a layer of lemon cream, then add a layer of lemon jam, another one of lemon cream and finally the meringue.
  2. Caramelise it lightly with a kitchen blowtorch, toss some lemon zest and garnish with basil leaves.