Key Lime Cake

April 29, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Isoke Samuel
  • Prep time 5 hours
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

I don’t know if you’ve ever squeezed a Key lime. It’s a pain in the ass, but the flavor hiding in the modicum of juice you’ll recover more than makes up for the struggle. You know what it tastes like; I know you know the pie. It’s summer. Beachy. Floral. Have you ever rubbed your fingers across a wicker armrest and gotten lost in the undulating cords like waves? —Jason Schreiber

Test Kitchen Notes

Recipe excerpt from Fruit Cake by Jason Schreiber. © 2020 by Jason Schreiber. Used with permission by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Key Lime Fillling
  • 1/2 cup Key lime juice
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, cut into smallish pieces
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Key lime juice
  • Perfect Chiffon Cake, baked in two 8x2-inch round pans, cooled, for serving
  • 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled graham crackers (from about 4 crackers), for serving
  • 4 large egg whites, for serving
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, for serving
  • Pan Goo & Perfect Chiffon Cake
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil, such as safflower
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil, such as safflower
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (if you’re making a roulade)
  1. Key Lime Fillling
  2. Do yourself a favor and make the filling the night before you plan to assemble this cake. Have a fine-mesh sieve and a large bowl on standby near the stove. Squeeze every last drop of juice from the limes and combine in a small saucepan with the yolks, condensed milk, salt, and cornstarch. Whisk everything together until it’s nice and smooth and then set over medium heat. Don’t stop whisking.
  3. Reduce the temperature a bit as the mixture thickens dramatically and keep whisking as it boils for 2 minutes, being especially careful to keep the edges of the pot from scorching. It’s not going to be a rolling boil like when you make a pot of pasta; it’s more like geysers of steam breaking across the surface—watch out, they’re hot!
  4. Strain the mixture through the fine-mesh sieve into the bowl and stir gently with a rubber spatula to let off some of the steam. Add the cream cheese, one or two pieces at a time, and stir until all of it has been incorporated. Place a piece of plastic film or wax paper directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. Make the lime soaker by stirring the sugar into the juice until it’s dissolved. Set aside.
  6. It’s showtime. Use a serrated knife to trim the domes from the tops of the cakes and slice each in half horizontally to create four layers. Place one layer on a serving platter and brush the top with about 2 tablespoons of the soaker. Stir the lime filling briefly to loosen it, then use a small offset spatula to spread about one-third of the filling over the cake, getting it right up to the edge. Scatter a third of the graham cracker crumbs over the filling and top with another layer of cake. Continue assembling in this manner with the remaining filling and cake layers. Slide a long wooden skewer vertically through the center of the cake if it feels wobbly. Chill the assembled cake until you’re ready to make the meringue.
  7. To make a Swiss meringue, place the egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and heat, whisking occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reads 160°F (71°C) on a thermometer, or is hot enough to hurt when you stick a finger into it. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and whip on high speed until firm peaks form, about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the skewer from the chilled cake and dollop the meringue on top, piling it high. Gently brown the meringue with a kitchen torch. Serve at cool room temperature. The cake can be stored, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  1. Pan Goo & Perfect Chiffon Cake
  2. Pan Goo In a small container with a lid, whisk the oil and flour together until combined. Brush onto baking pans in place of parchment paper or cooking spray. Keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
  3. Perfect Chiffon Cake Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and select your pans. For round layers, use two 8x2-inch round cake pans brushed with Pan Goo. For a roulade, use a 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and brushed with Pan Goo.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, place the egg yolks and whisk in 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, the vanilla, oil, and buttermilk. Set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on a healthy medium speed. When they look good and frothy, shake in the remaining 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar a little at a time, while slowly increasing the mixer speed to high. Keep whipping until the egg whites reach sturdy but not firm peaks.
  7. Round Layers Here’s where all your organization pays off. Grab the dry ingredients and whisk them into the yolk mixture. Make sure there are no lumps; nobody likes that. Then use a large rubber spatula to scoop about a third of the whipped egg whites into the batter and whisk to lighten the mixture. Bakers call this a “sacrifice,” so do it with dignity. Add the rest of the egg whites in two additions, folding gently until just combined.
  8. Divide the batter evenly into the two prepared pans, filling each about halfway.
  9. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and spring back excitedly when gently pressed and a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  10. Transfer the pans to wire racks. Let the cakes rest in their pans for about 2 minutes, then carefully flip them out onto the racks. (You’ll be surprised by how easily they drop from the pans.) Turn them right side up on the racks and let them cool completely.
  11. Roulade Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and spread it evenly to the corners with an offset spatula.
  12. Bake the roulade until the cake is golden brown and springs back in the center and a cake tester comes out clean, about 16 minutes.
  13. When the cake is in the oven, start worrying about how you’re going to cool it. Clear off a substantial section of your counter and spread out a clean, lint-free kitchen towel (at least as big as the baking sheet). Sift a liberal amount of confectioners’ sugar over the towel.
  14. When the cake is ready, run a knife around the edge of the pan. Invert onto the towel and remove the silicone baking mat or parchment. Dust the top with additional confectioners’ sugar and, beginning at a short end, roll the cake and towel into a tight log.
  15. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool completely. The cooled cakes can be used immediately or wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Round layers can be frozen for up to 1 month. I wouldn’t recommend freezing roulades, as they are apt to crack.

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