After a month of chocolate recipes followed by a bunch of beer recipes and a few Italian dishes for good measure, I was in the mood for something light, bright and tangy. Something citrus, puckery citrus. Something that screamed “Spring!!” at the top of its lungs. A tender, buttery bundt cake sounded pretty good too. Let’s combine the two, shall we?
Ages ago there was a Saveur article on Maida Heatter, a wonderful baker who has written some of the best baking books out there. Her Palm Beach Brownies, sandwiching layers of peppermint patties between two fudgy layers are killer. The Polka Dot Cheesecake never fails to elicit squeals of delight. Another of the recipes was called “East 62nd Street Lemon Cake”, a tender butter cake with lemon zest and glazed with a sugar/lemon juice mixture while warm. It is delicious and one that was due to make a reappearance.
I love that cake but I wanted something more. Something more citrus, more tart, maybe mix up the lemon for something else. In the recipe, Maida recommends a key lime version using key lime juice for the glaze but keeping the lemon zest in the cake as it’s better that way. I believed her. So I made a key lime version, adding some key lime extract that I had on hand. I know, it’s a strange thing to have but I do. If you have regular lime extract use that or you can use lime oil too but cut the amount in half; that stuff is potent. If you have neither the extracts nor the oils, skip it. It definitely boosts the flavor but is still quite good without.
For the glaze, I wanted something more so I double glazed it. First went the key lime/sugar glaze per the recipe and brushed it on the cake while hot. The glaze soaks into to the outer cake layer, creating a tart coating all the way around. Then, once the cake cooled, a powdered sugar/key lime icing was drizzled on top for that extra citrus punch. It also makes it look quite pretty.
I thought it was quite good – a tender crumb, a light buttery cake punctuated by big, bright bursts of lime. In fact, I loved it. I’ve made some great lemon cakes over the years, and a few lime ones, and this one is near the top of the list. Then I brought it to my godson’s house as part of a dessert spread for a spring dance where it disappeared in a matter of minutes. If a bunch of 16 years olds like your cake, I’d say you’re on to something.
STRESS THEAPY BAKING FACTOR: HELLO SUNSHINE. I love this cake. It is the best of a buttery vanilla bundt cake with a bright citrus punch to the face. Super duper citrus. It’ll wake you right up. What I particularly like is that the cake is relatively mild and delicate. A good, reliable butter cake. It’s lovely. Then the key lime glaze soaks into the outer layer, creating a bit of crust all around the cake, locking in a tart lime flavor. Then, because that’s not enough, a lime icing gives and extra pop and punch. It is a damn delight.
other citrus posts: Shaker Lemon Pie, Lemon Loaf Cake, Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts for National Doughnut Day, Lemon Slice Cookies, Lime Angelfood Cake, Orange Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Candied Clementines, Blood Orange Marmalade, Orange Sweet Rolls, Marmalade Yougurt Cake
Eight years ago: Khachpuri (cheesy Georgian bread)
Seven years ago: Hot Cross Buns
Six years ago: Guinness Stout Floats, Blogger Breakfast with David Lebovitz
Five years ago: Greek Sunday Lunch
Four years ago: Lemon Tart; Sunday Lunch Polish Easter
Three years ago: Guinness Crème Anglaise
Two years ago: Flourless Chocolate Cookies
Last year: Chouquette
DOUBLE GLAZED KEY LIME BUNDT CAKE – adapted from this Maida Heatter recipe
Makes one 10” bundt cake
I’m not one to butter and flour pans, usually parchment and non-stick cooking spray works perfectly well, unless it’s a bundt pan. Bundt pans are the only thing I’m a huge stickler for this step. Do not skip it, especially if you have one of those fancy bundt pans with all the divots and designs.
for the cake:
3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
16 Tablespoons unsalted butter (8 ounces, 2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
finely grated zest of 2 large lemons (1 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon key lime extract (or lemon extract)
For the key lime glaze:
½ cup key lime juice
2/3 cup sugar
for the key lime icing:
½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ teaspoon key lime juice
¼ teaspoon fresh lime zest, optional
- For the cake: placean oven rack in the lower third and preheat to 350°F.
- Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Set aside until needed.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter on medium-high until soft.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar in a slow, steady stream and beat on medium-high until creamy, about 3 minutes.
- Lower the speed to medium, and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. (The mixture might look curdled—it’s OK. The eggs were probably a bit cold.)
- Reduce the speed to low speed and add the dry ingredients alternately in three additions, with the milk in two additions, beating only until incorporated. Do not overmix.
- On low add the lemon zest and the key lime extract, mixing until just blended.
- Turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing evenly.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes (it really depends on your pan) until a toothpick comes out clean with no trace of wet batter.
- Cool the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes while you make the glaze.
- For the glaze: in a small bowl, combine the key lime juice and sugar.
- Cover the cake pan with a wire rack, quickly invert and remove the pan. Place the rack over a large piece of foil or parchment paper.
- With a pastry brush, brush the glaze all over the hot cake. This will take a few minutes; make sure to get the sides as well as the top. Let cool completely.
- For the icing: in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, key lime juice and lime zest (if using) until smooth.
- Drizzle the icing back and forth over the cake and let rest until the icing is set, at least one hour.
- When the icing is set, transfer the cake to a cake or serving plate. The cake will hold a few days, tightly wrapped.