I have a friend who admittedly has a key lime tree for the sole purpose that “They fit perfectly inside a Corona bottle” and here in Arizona they produce limes for longer. Ha! That sounds like a good reason albeit, but I can think of many many more, like this cake. If you’re team cake vs. team pie, then this cake is for you. It’s perfect for potluck or family gathering. You can make it the day before even. This cake is loaded with lime flavor. There is the super moist cake bursting with plenty of lime flavor but then there is the lime cream cheese swirl (you can see it near the top of the slice) that is crazy delish, finished off with a sweet tangy key lime glaze. This is one of those cakes that actually tastes better the second day.
Key Lime Bundt Cake
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
3 Cups plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/3 Cup plus 2 Tbsp. key lime juice, divided (I used bottled Nellie & Joes)
5 large eggs, room temp, divided
1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 Cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. (regular lime) zest; about 5 medium limes
2 Tbsp. graham cracker crumbs, plus a little more for garnish on top of cake
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 Cups buttermilk, room temp (or alternatively you can use 1 1/4 Cup milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. white vinegar and allow to sit for 15 minutes).
Preheat oven to 325 F. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. of the flour, condensed milk, and 2 Tbsp. of the key lime juice on medium speed until smooth. Add in the egg and mix until combined. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the mixer bowl with a paper towel to clean.
In the clean mixer bowl beat the butter (no need to clean the paddle) along with 1 1/2 cups sugar, brown sugar, and lime zest on medium low speed until just combined. increase to medium speed and beat until fluffy and light; about 3-4 minutes. Add remaining 4 eggs one at a time and mix until combined. The mixture will look curdled, but it will come together once the flour is added. In a separate bowl whisk together the rest of the flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk (or milk/vinegar) mixture starting and ending with the flour mixture; beating just until combined.
Spray a 15 cup bundt pan with baking spray that has flour in it. Spread 3 1/2 cups of the cake batter into the bundt pan and spread evenly. Tap pan on counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Add the cream cheese lime filling on top of the batter gently being careful to keep a 1/4 inch edge free border as much as possible. Drag a knife through gently in a snake motion to swirl the filling a bit. Repeat with gently layering the rest of the cake batter on top of the filling and smooth on top. Bake in the preheated oven 55-65 minutes or until a few moist crumbs return when poked with a wooden skewer. Cover the cake with tinfoil as needed partially through the baking time to avoid excess browning. Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes while you prepare the lime syrup.
Key Lime Syrup
Place wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. In a small cereal size bowl mix the remaining 1/3 cup key lime juice and the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Remove and with a long wooden skewer poke the top of the cake while it is still in the pan all over and spoon over 1/2 of the lime syrup. Place a long strip of parchment paper over the top of the cake about 4 inches wide. This will help you flip over the cake onto the wire rack more easily. Carefully pull out the parchment paper and spoon the rest of the lime syrup over the cake while the cake is still warm. Allow the cake to cool before applying the glaze.
Key Lime Glaze
In a small bowl combine 1 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. warm water, and 2 tsp. of key lime juice and whisk to combine. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake and sprinkle some extra graham cracker crumbs over the glaze quickly before it sets.
Keep the cake covered at room temperature in either a cake dome or with plastic wrap to avoid drying out.
The cake keeps nicely and tastes even better the second day!
I have a serious THING for key lime pie, so turning that into a martini? yeah…
Is there really anymore to say? Other than this is for my Summer Cocktail Series. Cocktail # 2
Commence with the sippin’ and the porch sittin’ !!
Key Lime Pie Martini
1.5 oz. vanilla vodka
1 oz. key lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. Coco Lopez
0.5 oz. (1 Tbsp.) pineapple juice
1 oz. heavy cream
One drop mint green (gel) food color
Fill a martini glass or coupe glass with crushed ice to chill.
On a small plate mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together.
Mix the martini per instructions* in the cocktail shaker.
Pour out the ice water from the martini glass and wipe dry.
Cut a small piece of lime and wipe around the rim of martini/coupe glass.
Dip the rim of the glass into the cracker mixture.
Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve immediately.
* Fill a cocktail shaker with all the ingredients then fill with ice. Shake vigourously.
Graham Cracker Rim:
1 full rectangular square graham cracker ground to crumbs in either a mortar/pestle or in a ziplock bag using rolling pin. Mix the crumbs with 2 tsp. of sugar. (You could also use cinnamon graham cracker if you prefer).
Lets face it-there are certain fruits or foods which given their name do not exactly evoke a tasty image. Case in point, the blood orange. I mean….how could one get excited over something with the word blood in it if you’re going to be shoving it in your mouth? Well, these little beauties lend the most amazing ruby red color when juiced. You’ll find them used in everything from cocktail recipes to baking. Mix the juice with a little confectioners sugar and you have the most beautiful AND flavorful princess pink icing.
It’s always a surprise when you slice one in half to find how deep in color your prized beauty really is. When picking one out you want to find one that has a good patch of crimson red mixed with deep orange.
Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 Cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
zest of 2 large blood oranges
2 Tbsp. blood orange juice
1/3 Cup milk
1 tsp. white vinegar
2-4 Tbsp. poppy seeds
Combine milk with vinegar and set aside for about 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a standard loaf pan with non stick baking spray and line with parchment paper so the ends are extended over the long side of the pan. Leave at least 2 inches of overhang.
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and combine. Zest the oranges over the mixer bowl and also add the blood orange juice. With mixer on stir setting, stir to combine. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add in half the flour mixture and beat gently to combine. Add in milk mixture with mixer running on slow speed and mix gently to combine. Add in last half of flour mixture and beat gently to combine. Stir in the poppy seeds (Note* this is a matter of preference on how much poppy seeds you like-I add in only 2 Tbsp. but you can much more to your liking).
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for about 55 minutes to an hour or until a wooden skewer inserted shows a few moist crumbs.
Make the Blood Orange Syrup by placing ingredients into a liquid glass measuring cup and microwaving until mixture comes to a boil.
Let the cake cool for 30 minutes then gently pour the Blood Orange Syrup over the cake until cake absorbs all of syrup. Let cake cool completely, then apply glaze with a large spoon until top of cake is covered.
For glaze– in a medium bowl place sifted confectioners sugar and blood orange juice and whisk to combine.
Blood Orange Syrup
1/2 Cup water
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. blood orange juice
1 1/2 Cup confectioners sugar, sifted
3-4 Tbsp. fresh blood orange juice
Does your childhood Summer evoke memories of you and your friends sitting on the porch eating a creamsicle popsicle? That sound of the dude with the push cart full of popsicles with the distinct unmistakable sound of bells clang al-ang- ing against each other. You could spot that sound 3 blocks away I swear. Just enough time for you to run in the house and yell, “Mom!!!!!!” “The ice cream man is coming, can I have a popsicle?” “Pleassssse?” The tang of the orange encapsulating that sweet vanilla flavor. There is nothing like it. It’s still one of my favorite flavors.
These macarons will transport you back to the 70’s (if you’re in your 50’s like me) when times were simpler. No WiFi, no reality Tv, no silly internet stories clouding your brain, just the nice weather forcing you to play outside. One bite will have you day dreaming of peaceful summers….
75 g aged egg whites, room temp
pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp. egg white powder
50 g superfine granulated sugar
90 g almond flour
135 g confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla powder
orange gel food coloring
clean small brush for “painting piping bag” (cheap @ the craft store) or use the blunt end of a wooden skewer
* A note about superfine sugar- please do NOT buy it-it’s priced higher. Simply make up a batch by pulsing some in a food processor and store away in an airtight container.
1. In a food processor pulse the almond meal, and confectioners sugar, stopping to push contents down into the bowl and process until fine. Sift contents into a bowl and discard any hard lumps. Stir in the vanilla powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, cream of tartar, egg white powder, and superfine granulated sugar, and hand whisk until foamy. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed (Kitchen aide stop 4) for 2 minutes, then medium speed (stop 6) for 2 minutes, then on high speed (stop 8) for 2 minutes, then increase to highest speed (stop 10) for one minute, or until whites are stiff. Hint: if you remove the bowl and turn it upside down and the whites do not slide out they are ready! (Just be careful when checking!)
2. Gradually add the almond flour mixture to the meringue and mix/fold with a rubber spatula until mixture when lifted is able to form a figure 8 ribbon. About every 5th fold lift the spatula up and let the batter fall gently back into the bowl. Once you can form a figure 8 ribbon without the mixture breaking, the mixture is ready. Prepare the piping bag with a round tip and swipe three stripes of orange gel coloring inside the piping bag. Fill gently with the mac batter.
3. Prepare a sheet pan with either Silpat or parchment paper and preheat the oven to 300° F. Pipe the macarons onto the prepared sheet pan about a quarter size with 1 1/2 inches space between. Note; if after piping there are visible peaks then the batter is too thick and could cause problems such as cracking or not rising correctly. Squeeze out all the batter back into the bowl (with firm pressure) and refill the batter back into the piping bag and re pipe. Usually the act of doing this will thin the batter enough (without having to mix more) to get a more ideal thickness. Once you have piped the batter take the sheet pan and rap it on the counter a few times (3-6) to release any air bubbles. If you still see any visible air bubbles pop them gently with a bamboo skewer or toothpick. Allow the sheet pan to sit for 30-60 minute to form a “skin” so when touched the batter is no longer tacky feeling.
4. Bake the macs for about 13-15 minutes until when touching the top of a macaron, the top does not wiggle or slide but is firmly set. If they look like they are getting too browned then cover with tinfoil for the last few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Do not attempt to remove until they are completely cool. Once cooled fill as described below.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 large egg whites, room temp
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla, then beat until smooth.
To assemble macarons- Pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream onto one half of the underside of a cookie, then pipe the orange curd inside the vanilla ring, cover with another half of mac cookie. (see photo)
1/2 Cup fresh orange juice
zest of two oranges
3/4 Cup superfine granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Combine yolks, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Let mixture come to a boil and cook, continually scraping sides of pan, for 2 minutes. If desired, strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and very firm, about 2 hours.
Any leftovers will last in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. You may also freeze leftover curd.
I haven’t made a layer cake in a while, but for some reason I was feeling it. My lemon tree is dropping lemons like grenades every four seconds right now as it’s time for the ol’ tree to shed all of it’s lemons, so after making what seemed like endless pitchers of lemonade, I decided a lemon cake was in order. This cake is super fun to make because of the speckled decorating part. It’s a bit of an ambitious cake, so by all means make parts of it ahead; such as the filling and the cake a day before if you like. Just make sure to wrap the cakes well in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge. I even brushed the cakes with the syrup the day before and wrapped the cakes each separately in plastic wrap and chilled in the fridge. If you’re not feeling that ambitious you can of course buy a store bought cake mix such as vanilla- and use that (I won’t judge)- but by all means make the buttercream yourself as you’ll want that amazing vanilla flavor that you can’t get from store bought.
For pure white looking layers- use a sharp knife to cut off the browned areas of the cakes from top, bottom and sides.
Speckled Easter Egg Cake: Lemon-Vanilla Cake
yield: 4 layer 6 inch cake or 2 layer 9 inch cake
Lemon Vanilla Cake
1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp (227 g)
1 1/2 C sugar (300 g)
finely grated lemon zest of 2 lemons
6 large egg whites, room temp
3 1/4 C sifted cake flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pure lemon extract
1 1/3 C whole milk (320 ml), room temp
Optional for finished garnish: toasted coconut and Cadbury mini chocolate Easter eggs
Prepare four 6 inch cake pans with baking spray; bottom and sides (that contains flour) or grease and flour pans. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. You can use 2 nine inch cake pans also if you don’t want to make a six inch tall cake.
In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of stand mixer place the sugar and lemon zest and rub the sugar and lemon zest together with fingers to release natural oils in lemon zest. Add in the softened butter and using paddle attachment cream on medium speed until fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add in the egg whites one at a time and mixing until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
Add in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with milk; beginning and ending with flour mixture. Note: I like to fold in the flour mixture and milk with a spatula by hand first then gently turn on the mixer and beat gently- This ensures a lighter cake and avoids over beating the batter and helps that the crumb stays light and soft. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
Bake the pans in a preheat 350° F oven for 27-29 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed gently with a finger. The cakes will just start to pull away from the sides of the pans. Do NOT overbake. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 15 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely.
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup water
4 one inch strips of fresh lemon peel (careful to make sure no white pith remains)
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
In a glass measuring cup place the sugar, water, and lemon peel and microwave on high until sugar dissolves. Let lemon peel steep for 15 minutes, then remove. Stir in lemon juice. You can do this a day or two before to save time.
Note: any leftover syrup you can strain to remove any cake crumbs , keep chilled in the fridge and use in iced tea.
Lemon Cream Filling
3 oz. cream cheese, room temp
9 Tbsp. heavy cream, cold
1 1/2 tsp. nonfat dried milk powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 Cup purchased Lemon Curd (I like Dickinsons brand)
Beat the heavy cream and dried milk powder on high speed using an electric hand mixer to stiff peaks. Move the whipped cream to a separate bowl and chill while proceeding. and using the same mixer bowl (no need to wash), beat cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in vanilla. Add in the lemon curd and beat until well incorporated and smooth. Fold in the cold whipped cream by hand until mostly blended (don’t overmix), and cover and chill while making buttercream. Note: you can make a day or two ahead if desired and keep covered and chilled.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla, or seeds of one vanilla bean + 1 tsp. vanilla
Sky blue gel food coloring
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla, then beat until smooth.
Note: Reserve about a cup of the buttercream (before coloring blue) to pipe a dam of buttercream on 3 of the layers to “hold” in the lemon cream layer.
To color the buttercream: Beat in one drop at a time of gel color until desired color is achieved. [I ended up using about 6 drops, but go SLOW and add a tiny bit at a time]. Note: the color of the buttercream will deepen in color about 1-2 shades as it sits.
Cocoa Speckle for decorating
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
small clean brush for decorating (I used a never used clean toothbrush)
In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa and vanilla. To “speckle” lay down wax paper underneath your work area and dip your brush into the mixture and then dab the brush onto the wax paper to remove any excess. You don’t want it too thick- if too thick you’ll end up with huge spots or unattractive drips. Practice first a few times on the wax paper-you’ll want to use your index finger to quickly flick the bristles of the brush about an inch away from the cake. It’s also best to whisk your cocoa mixture from time to time to prevent it from becoming too thick-you may need to add a few TINY drops of water occasionally if needed. If you end up with a real bad boo boo just chill the cake then use a small offset spatula to lift off any spots you don’t want. Note: you WON’T taste any cocoa flavor in the finished product.
To Assemble: Brush each layer of cake with the lemon syrup. Pipe a ring of “dam” of vanilla buttercream on 3 of the layers to hold in the lemon cream filling. Spread the lemon cream inside the dam of buttercream and continue stacking until you reach the top layer. Apply a crumb coat of buttercream and chill the cake for about 30 minutes. Continue frosting the top and sides of the cake.
Make the cocoa speckle mixture and speckle the top and sides of the cake as noted above. (Note- I find it helpful to lay down a few sheets of wax paper as you will get speckles of brown on your work area).
Garnish the top of the cake by toasting small amount of sweetened coconut in the oven at 350° F for about 6 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Top off with a few of mini candy coated Easter eggs.