Key Lime Cake

My brother loooooves key lime pie. So much so, that I literally can't make a lime dessert without thinking about him! Last year around his birthday I made Key Lime Pie Bars which were a big hit! This year, since I've been getting more and more into cakes, I decided to make a key lime pie inspired cake.

And let me tell you - this is it. Bursting with fresh lime flavor, this cake will definitely satisfy any lime lovers out there! Lime cake, filled with fresh lime curd, topped with lime buttercream. Um, yeah. This is a perfect cake for the first day of spring, and how about for a cinco de mayo party?? If you can wait that long!

Used In This Recipe: 

Three 6" Cake Pans (I use and love these!)

Now I can't jump to the recipe without first touching on the frosting for a second here. Because the frosting on this cake is so, freaking, good. I'm not usually the kind of person who could take a spoon to frosting, but you guys, I really could with this stuff. The fresh lime juice and fresh lime zest lightens the flavor, and it's really not very sweet.

Cake Ingredients: 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
Juice and zest of 4 limes

Lime Curd Ingredients: 

1/2 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 3 limes
4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter

Lime Buttercream Ingredients: 

2 cups butter, softened
5-6 cups powdered sugar
Juice and zest of two limes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line the bottoms of three 6" cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through salt.

In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Add the sour cream, lime juice and zest, mixing until all ingredients come together.

Pour batter into the three prepared cake pans, and bake in the preheated oven for 22-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 5-10 minutes, and then turn them out on a wire cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. I like to turn my cakes upside down to help them flattten. When the cakes are room temp, I freeze them for 30 minutes to make frosting them easier.

Lime Curd Directions: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Be sure to whisk constantly so the mixture doesn't burn. Cook about 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remember that the curd will continue to thicken as it cools! Remove the curd from the heat, and melt in the butter. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Lime Buttercream Directions: In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Add 5 cups powdered sugar one cup at a time, starting your mixer on low and increasing to high with each addition. Add the lime zest, juice and vanilla extract, mixing on high speed for about 3-4 minutes. Add the additional cup of powdered sugar if necessary. Taste! If you'd like the frosting to taste even more like lime, add additional zest!

Assembly tips:

  • Cut the top of each cake so that they're flat. This will make frosting easier! I like to do this with frozen cakes and a sharp bread knife. 
  • Cover the first layer of cake with the lime buttercream. Pipe a border of frosting around the circumference of the cake. Spoon lime curd into the well you've created. Top with the second layer of cake, and repeat steps. Then top with the third layer of cake, and frost the cake with remaining frosting! 
  • If you want to decorate with graham cracker crumbs, this is what I do. I carefully transfer the cake to a rimmed baking sheet. Then I empty a generous amount of graham cracker crumbs into the sheet, and press them against the cake. Carefully brush/lightly blow away extra crumbs!
Kirsten Bell

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