Key Lime Pie Cake

I know it goes against girl code, but I don’t love chocolate. Some chocolate is ok, I just don’t crave it like some people. Given the choice between a chocolate or fruit dessert, I’ll always go for the fruit choice. I also tend to like cake more than pies. Cakes come with frosting, which I have a serious weakness for.

My friend and I hosted a University of Texas picnic last weekend. I signed up to make a dessert and wanted to make something summery since the weather here has been fantastic and we planned to grill on the back patio at our apartment complex. I came across a picture for this  Key Lime Pie Cake recipe during one of the many hours I spend on Pinterest and pinned it because I like tackling any cake recipe that has multiple components. The finished result was delicious. The curd is really nice a tangy and is offset nicely by a fluffy white cake. I didn’t love the frosting, but it was tasty. I think I might experiment with a regular buttercream if I make this cake again. The graham cracker crumbs are a nice addition and really do make the cake taste like a key lime pie. Everyone at the picnic was very impressed that I’d made the cake, which to me is the sign of a job well done.

Key Lime Pie Cake

 

This cake has several components and is best tackled a day ahead of serving it.

Key Lime Curd

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 limes
1/2 cup Key Lime juice
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

Directions

Add all ingredients except butter to a saucepan over Low heat. Whisk to combine. Add butter. Continue whisking gently but constantly, heating slowly, until curd thickens and reaches 160°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat.

For the smoothest curd, pour through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a storage container. Cover and refrigerate overnight before use. Curd keeps up to 1 week in the fridge.

Lime Scented White Cake

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 2 9-inch cakes

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk ( you can make buttermilk substitute using milk and lemon juice)
4 large egg whites
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
zest of 1 lime
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In another bowl, measure out buttermilk, then whisk in egg whites and lime juice.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and zest on low until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 buttermilk mixture. Continue alternating dry and wet ingredients (ending with dry ingredients), beating just to incorporate each new addition. Once all ingredients are added, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to aerate the batter.

Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Can be made ahead. If making ahead, wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in a zip top bag. Can be stored at room temperature for a day, or frozen for several weeks.

Graham Cracker Crumble

Ingredients

6 graham crackers
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Preheat over to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Break graham crackers into quarters and pulse in a food processor until reduced to fine crumbs. Add salt and brown sugar. With processor running, pour in melted butter. Pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.

Dump mixture onto prepared pan and press mixture firmly to form a flat ‘crust’. Bake at 350°F for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and crumble into pieces with a fork. Return to oven and bake 2 more minutes. Cool completely. Can be made ahead and stored in an air-tight zip top bag until needed.

Lime Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes about 5 cups, or enough to frost a 9-inch layer cake

Ingredients

6 large fresh egg whites
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-Tablespoon cubes
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon key lime juice
lime zest
Pinch of salt

Directions

Fill medium saucepan with about an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Add egg whites and sugar to the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and mixture reads 140°F on an instant read thermometer.

Attach bowl to stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until a glossy white meringue with stiff peaks forms and the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch (about 10-15 minutes). Switch to the paddle attachment. Beating on medium-low speed, add butter one piece at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next. Once all butter is incorporated, scrape down sides of the bowl with a spatula. Continue beating for 10-15 minutes until smooth.

Once smooth, add vanilla, lime juice, salt and zest. Beat until smooth.

(If at any point your buttercream looks curdled or soupy – don’t panic ! If it looks curdled, just keep beating. It will come together. If you’ve been beating it for 15 minutes and it’s still soupy, pop the whole bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes, then continue beating. Repeat as much as necessary until you get a smooth buttercream.)

To Assemble:
Place one layer of the cake on a cake pedestal or serving platter. Top with half of the key lime curd. Don’t spread the curd all the way to the edge of the cake. Using a pastry bag, pipe swirls around the entire bottom layer. This will keep your curd in place and make frosting the cake a lot easier. Place the next layer of cake on top. Frost the edges of the cake with your buttercream. Don’t frost the top of your cake. Add the rest of the lime curd to the top of the cake. Using your pastry bag, pipe swirls or rosets around the edge of the cake.  Place your cake pedestal on a cookie sheet or piece of parchment paper. Using your hands, push handfuls of your graham cracker crumbs along the outside of the cake. I had enough extra frosting that I piped swirls around the bottom of the cake as well. To garnish the top of the cake take a lime slice and cut through half of it to twist it. Place on top of cake. Wow your friends 🙂

Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

There are just some things that are meant to go together…lemon and raspberry are two flavors that I just love together. When I was in business school, me and four of my girlfriends decided to take our holiday break and explore New Zealand and Australia together for five weeks. Leading up to our trip we had several dinners where we’d eat, drink too many glasses of wine and plan the trip. I’d come across a cake posting on Tastespotting that looked ridiculously good, so I decided for our next Australia dinner I’d make it. I found the original recipe here. It was a blueberry lemon cake, but I decided I’d sub in raspberries since I like those flavors together better. The result was so good my friends deemed it the facegasm cake. It’s become our go to treat when we get together now. While we are all spread out across the country now, we’ve done a good job this first year out of business school getting together every few months. Since I live in what is normally the frozen tundra, I knew that they needed to come visit me in the summer or I would never get them here.

A few weekends ago they all made it to Minneapolis. We had reason to celebrate as two of my friends were celebrating birthdays. I decided that we needed a cake and some cupcakes for the occasion. I wasn’t sure if the Lemon Raspberry cake would translate well into cupcakes or not, but I gave it a try.  I halved the recipe since I had also made a cake, so that’s why some of the measurements seem a little unconventional. The result was just as good as the regular cake with built in portion control. Facegasms were had all around 🙂

Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1  cup fresh raspberries

1/8 cup sour cream

1/8 cup  milk (I use skim)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/6 teaspoon pure lemon extract (just fill 1/3 tsp half full)

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 cup (1/2  stick) unsalted butter, softened about 20 minutes out of refrigerator

6 tablespoons of white sugar

1 large eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.  Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to larger bowl. Add fresh raspberries and toss to coat them with flour. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside.

Stir milk, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest in small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar, until pale yellow and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, until well combined. Mix in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide batter equally cupcake pan.

Bake  until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Cool in pans on racks for about 10 minutes, then take the cakes out and cool on wire rack.

Zesty Lemon Frosting

Ingredients

1/2 cup soft unsalted butter

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 1/2 cups icing sugar (or 3 for  sweeter version)

23 ml fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons whipping cream (35% cream)

1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract

pinch salt

1 drop of yellow food coloring

Directions

Cream butter and lemon zest in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, about 3 minutes. Slowly add icing sugar, mixing on low speed for about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat on med-high for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy. If using food coloring add a drop or two, then beat until blended.

Lemon Curd 

3 large egg yolks, strained

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup lemon juice

6 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Directions

  1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth.
  3. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour.

To assemble:
Cut out a round circle from each cupcake. Save the piece you cut out. Add about a tbsp of lemon curd and replace with the piece of cake you cut out. Using a pastry bag, pipe a generous swirl of lemon frosting on top of the cupcake. Top with a raspberry.

Luscious lemon curd