Key Lime Pound Cake

Hey Friends! It’s Day 2 of the Twelve Days of Pound Cake! Yesterday, I released my long-awaited Classic Lemon Pound Cake, so today…we have Key Lime Pound Cake!

This is a photo of key lime pound cake.

Lime lovers, I could never forget you. ❤️ And this Key Lime Pound Cake exceeded my every expectation.

About this Key Lime Pound Cake

Lemme tell you…I love Key Lime Pie. Every element of it is just perfection to me. The creamy texture? Dreamy. That sugared lime taste? Heavenly. That buttery graham cracker crust? Blissful. That lime-infused whipped cream? Amazing. I just cannot get enough of this dessert. And when it’s good? We’re talking delectable, divine deliciousness.

This Key Lime Pound Cake had to get it all right. The texture. The taste. Even the graham cracker garnish (and yes, there is a graham cracker garnish!). And friends, FRIENDS, I’m happy to say that it is right.

This is a photo of key lime pound cake.

Here’s the thing, though: key limes are extremely difficult to find this time of year. Even I was only able to find them to do my final cake testing. And while I can report that the taste is moderately different with the key limes than it is with regular ole’ limes, you will not be sacrificing taste, texture, or awed guests if you use the readily available limes from your local grocer.

There’s a secret to this Key Lime Pound Cake that really brightens up the lime. *comes closer to screen to whisper*

Midori. Yes, I know it is melon liqueur, but I tried it on a double dog dare from my friend Samantha Gaines (of Sugar Wham fame) and FRIENDS, it works. It brightens the lime flavor tremendously, so I made it an optional ingredient. Thank you Sam!

Key Lime Pound Cake Ingredients

Lime Juice: The cake calls for 63 grams (1/4 c), plus 2 tbsp of of freshly squeezed lime juice. The lime juice provides truly delightful lime flavor, but the acidity of the lime juice also helps tenderize the crumb of the cake, giving it an almost creamy pound cake texture. Please don’t use the lime juice in a bottle. The taste just won’t be the same. And what’s a little hand cramp when you’re making lime cake? 😂

Lime Zest: You’ll use the lime zest to make lime sugar for your cake. The technique of rubbing the lime zest into the sugar releases the oils from the zest even better, which gives a big boost of lime flavor. You’ll also use the zest in the glaze atop your cake.

Granulated Sugar: The sugar, of course, adds sweetness to the cake. The lime sugar is perfectly aromatic and adds such a beautiful, special flavor to this cake. Additionally, granulated sugar is also responsible for caramelization! That beautiful crust on the outside of your pound cake? It is largely because of the sugar in your recipe!

This is a photo of key lime pound cake.

All-Purpose Flour: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the pleasantly plump texture of a good pound cake, and the lime pound cake is no different. That beautiful texture largely comes from all-purpose flour. I find that cake flour doesn’t give the same rise and texture to pound cakes, so that is why I don’t use it in mine.

Baking Soda: Limes are extremely acidic. Because of that, baking soda is the proper leavening for this pound cake.

Kosher Salt: Salt is very important in any dessert; it balances the sugar and keeps the dessert from becoming cloyingly sweet. It doesn’t take a lot of salt to balance the sugar in a cake recipe, so measure carefully. If you’re using table salt for this recipe, cut the amount in half.

Unsalted Butter: This particular cake has an amazing balance of sweet and tart, and, as I said before, it really needs salt to balance the whole thing. That being said, it’s important to really control the amount of salt in this recipe, since it can quickly overwhelm the delicate acidity of the key limes. That’s why I recommend using unsalted butter for this recipe. Also, butter helps this cake become lighter! Specifically, the process of creaming butter and sugar creates air pockets that assist with cake rise.

Cream Cheese: Listen. I could not have a Key Lime Pound Cake unless of that pound cake had an absolutely, positively melt-in-your-mouth texture. The only way to do that with this cake was to use cream cheese. I love that the cream cheese adds so much to the texture, without fighting with the other taste elements. The additional fat element helps give your taste that melt-in-your-mouth quality without sacrificing wonderful flavor.

Eggs: The protein in the eggs adds structure to the cake, while the fatty yolk adds delicious flavor. This recipe calls for six eggs, which might seem like a lot. Trust me, it’s perfect.

Vanilla Extract: Friends, I know I’ve been a big proponent of vanilla beans this year, and that hasn’t changed. However, I found that using vanilla beans in this recipe overwhelmed both the scent and flavor of the lime. Since I wanted to have the sweetened lime flavor come through more boldly, I chose vanilla extract.

Whole Milk: Yes, whole milk. NOT buttermilk. You’ll add the 63 grams of lime juice to the milk, which will cause it to curdle and give it a great buttermilk-y tang.

Beginners Start Here

If you are new to baking (or just want to build your confidence with pound cakes in general), here are some resources from the Begin with Butter site and the Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy that will help you tremendously! Of course, they’re not required reading, but if you cozy up for a few minutes with a few of these articles, I promise you’ll feel much more confident

These resources are super helpful to help you build consistency and confidence on your baking journey.

Important Tools Used in this Key Lime Pound Cake

Below, you’ll find some tools that I used for this pound cake. These are the tools that I use all the time in my own kitchen.

**I get paid a small commission if you purchase directly from some of these links, but they are truly amazing products that you’ll find in my kitchen.**

If you have them already, great! Think of this as a checklist to help you build the confidence that you’ll need to execute this recipe!

This Key Lime Pound Cake brings together all of the delicious elements of Key Lime Pie, while also being completely satisfying to pound cake aficionados. Its sweet-tart taste, combined with its incredibly luxe, pleasantly plump texture, will make it a hit at your next gathering!

See you tomorrow for Day 3!

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Key Lime Pound Cake

This Key Lime Pound Cake hits all of the high notes.  Between the taste, texture, and wonderful lime fragrance, you’ll be transported to destination: delicious.

  • Total Time: 5-7 hours
  • Yield: 18 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Cake:

  • 384 g (3 c) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 173 g (.75 c) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 58 g (.25 c) cream cheese, room temp
  • 500 g (2.5 c) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp key lime zest (see note)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp Midori (optional)
  • 250 g (1 c) whole milk
  • 63 g (.25 c) freshly squeezed key lime juice

For the Vanilla Simple Syrup:

  • 67 g (1/3 c) granulated sugar
  • 84 g (1/3 c) water
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Key Lime Glaze:

  • 240 g (2 c) confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp key lime juice
  • 11.5 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp key lime zest (optional)

For the Graham Cracker Garnish:

  • 4 graham crackers (2 graham cracker sheets), pulverized in a food processor
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 29 g (2 tbsp) butter, melted

Instructions

To Make the Batter:

  1. Set your oven to a true 325°F.  An oven thermometer is extremely useful here, since most ovens will not reach 325°F when set to 325°F.  
  2. Zest and juice 4-5 key limes (or 3 regular limes).  Separate the zest from the juice in two small bowls.
  3. Add the 1/4 cup of lime juice to the milk in a 2-cup measuring cup.  Stir and allow the mixture to “sour”.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar and 2 tbsp of the lime zest. Scrunch the lime zest into the granulated sugar to release the citrus oils. This process takes about 3-5 minutes, so don’t rush it!  Once done, set aside. 
  5. Add the 63 g (.25 c) of lime juice to the milk and stir thoroughly.  Allow to sit aside to “sour”.
  6. Sift together the all-purpose flour, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  7. Add the room-temperature butter and cream cheese to the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.  Mix with your hand or stand mixer until the fats are completely smooth and combined. Add the infused granulated sugar and cream until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg until completely incorporated into the mixture.  Scrape the sides and bowl as needed to ensure even mixing.
  9. Add the vanilla extract and Midori (if using) and mix thoroughly.
  10. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  11. Add all of the milk mixture and mix until just combined.
  12. Add the second half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Using a rubber spatula, give the sides and bottom of the bowl a final scrape to ensure that the batter is evenly mixed.
  13. Prep a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan as you normally would (I use butter and flour to prep pans for this cake)
  14. Bake for 60-70 minutes in a true 325°F oven, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 212°F-215°F.  

 

To Make the Vanilla Simple Syrup:

  1. Add sugar, salt, and water to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Remove from the heat as soon as the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add pure vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  3. Allow the cake to cool in its pan for ten minutes, then invert and place on top of a cooling rack.  Brush simple syrup on the cake and allow to cool completely.

 

To Make the Lime Glaze:

  1. Add the confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 tbsp of lime zest (if using),1 tbsp of water, fine sea salt, and vanilla extract to the bowl.  Mix with a small whisk until smooth. If necessary, add up to 1 more tbsp of water or lime juice, 1 tsp at a time. The final glaze should have the consistency of thick honey. 
  2. Use a spouted measuring cup, spoon, or squeeze bottle to add the glaze to the completely cooled cake.

 

To Make the Graham Cracker Garnish:

  1. Pulverize the graham crackers in a food processor or blender.
  2. Add the brown sugar and pulse to combine.
  3. Place the mixture in a medium bowl and drizzle the melted butter evenly over it.  Stir to combine, then gently press the graham cracker mixture into the bowl to compress it a bit.
  4. Sprinkle atop the glaze, then finish with more glaze (if desired).
  5. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Key limes can be extremely difficult to source at some times of the year, so you can substitute regular limes for the key limes and create an absolutely tremendous cake!
  • Author: Shani
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60-75 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: key lime

6 COMMENTS

  1. can’t call it “Key” lime cake if you do not use actual Key Lime juice. these are very specific limes with a tartness very different from Persian limes.

    • Thank you for your comment. This cake was tested with both key limes and Persian limes, and it is meant to be, in fact, a key lime pound cake. However, considering the limited availability of key limes during this time of year, I wanted to let bakers know that they could make an incredible cake using traditional limes. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This cake was delicious and the graham cracker crumble really made this special! I had to use regular limes and everyone was thrilled with the taste. This is the 3rd pound cake I’ve made from Begin with Butter and they have all been major hits! Thanks, Shani! Another successful birthday cake!

    • I’m so glad that it worked well for you! I can’t wait for you to try it with key limes when you get an opportunity, but you’re right that it is exceptional with regular limes!

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