Fresh Limes: Bright and fresh zest from the skin of the limes and pure lime juice go into the cake. Absolutely avoid using bottled lime juice to make this. The freshly squeezed juice from your limes will give this excellent lime flavor.
Pound cake structure: This cake is not an airy or fluffy cake, much like traditional pound cake it has a tight, dense crumb. This is achieved by carefully incorporating room temperature ingredients together, adding them as we cream the batter. The use of cake flour gives it a fine and tender crumb, and the high fat percentage (between the yolks of the eggs, the butter and the sour cream) makes it melt in your mouth.
While a traditional pound cake has no chemical leavening, I’ve given this one just a bit to give it a boost to rise. Still, don’t skimp on beating time as this step
Lime drizzle: Zest can really take a cake only so far, no matter how much we use so to really zone in on that lime flavor we’re going to make a lime syrup with fresh juice and sugar. The syrup gets drizzled over the cake and will seep into some of the holes created post-bake to intensify the flavor.
Personally my favorite part of this cake with the crust; dark and deeply caramelized but soaked in tart lime made it very addictive. The rest of my family (who don’t have the same endurance for intense flavor as I do) preferred the light and bright, super soft center of the cake.
Fresh! When I’m using the zest of a fruit I like to buy organic as I’ll be eating that skin. IF you are using conventional, give them a good rubbing under water to clean the skin.
Also – please use a microplane zester! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ruined a dish by using a zester that had too big of holes and ended up getting enough pith into the dish that it ruined it.
If you like using European butter, you’ll find it does well in a recipe like this with its higher butterfat percentage but I use American style (it’s cheaper!) and it is still perfect. If you want to make this dairy free use a vegan butter.
Eggs contribute to the cake’s structure, their swelling as they bake helps the cake rise, and texture, as they add moisture and fat to the cake. I couldn’t tell you how to make this cake without eggs.
This adds more fat to the cake without adding that eggy taste we’d get if we were simply adding more yolks. You can substitute with a full fat greek yogurt (or dairy free yogurt) if you like.
Often in pound cakes I like to use cake flour for its finer mill, as it will lead to great texture. However for the one pictured I used all purpose and it worked just fine. Either will do.
Room temperature ingredients: Butter, eggs and the sour cream should be at room temperature before starting. The butter needs to be soft so you can cream it with the sugar. You can place the eggs in warm water to quickly warm them up. If the eggs are very cold they can shock some of the bits of butter into solidifying again (even after creaming) and it can separate the batter. The sour cream isn’t as critical to be at room temperature but if you remember, take it out a half hour before you start.
Cream well: You want to give the sugar and butter a really good beating to aerate the batter. This step is the ‘mechanical leavening’ which will help the cake rise and give it great texture. It should be light and fluffy. The eggs should be added one by one, allowing each to be incorporated before adding another.
Bake until just done: Pound cakes are dense and take their time baking, sometimes up to an hour. They’ll brown quite a bit on top before they are done. Use a cake tester to determine if they are fully baked or press down gently on the top of the loaf, if it springs back and you can’t detect any batter it’s likely done.
A light colored, metal tin that’s a standard size loaf pan (light colored so it doesn’t darken the cake too much), size should be about 8.5-9 inches long and 4-5” inches wide. But you can also bake this in a smaller bundt pan (6 cup capacity) just be sure to use a baking spray on the bundt pan so it will release easily.
You can line the loaf pan with parchment paper if you dislike a darker browning on the skin (I’ve grown to love it – especially with the lime drizzle) and if you see the cake browning too much in the oven as it cooks, tent it loosely with foil.
Please don’t use glass or ceramic to bake this as they are poor conductors of heat, take longer to warm up and longer to cool down.
You’ll combine freshly squeezed lime juice and fine granulated sugar and then cook them until the sugar dissolves. Don’t cook it too long or the liquid will evaporate and you’ll have a thick syrup on your hands (pleasant but won’t really flavor the cake the way we want it to).
To get it into the cake I use a needle-thin cake tester and poke holes all over the cake. You could use a bamboo stick although they can be quite thick and you’ll have holes in the cake.
Then you’ll pour the syrup over the cake, most of it will go to the sides and edges so try to get quite a bit into the center. The cake will look like it’s drowning in water but don’t worry. As the cake sets it will absorb the drizzle and soon you’ll have a slightly sticky on the outside, perfect cake.
This cake will keep well for a few days. Store in an airtight container. If you’d like for it to last longer keep it in the fridge – but it may dry out just a bit.
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