This cake will be my staple summer potluck dessert recipe because it’s such a crowd pleaser. It has a tender, very moist middle; a crunchy, sugary crust on the outside; and a creamy, sweet, cream cheese frosting covering the whole thing. It’s infused with Key lime juice and lots of lime zest, and it’s the perfect make-ahead dessert because it freezes wonderfully!
I really hate to brag because that’s just wrong, but I am compelled to toot my own horn about this cake.
If you need a fairly easy and simple, make-ahead dessert for summer, one that will wow a crowd and elevate you to dessert hero status, choose this one.
I’ve made this four times already and every time it gets rave reviews. I am serious.
Summer barbecue? This is perfect.
Homecoming at church? This is your cake.
Graduation party? Everyone will love it.
Sunday Dinner? Why not.
This is my staple pound cake recipe infused with key lime juice and zest. It has a tender, very moist middle, and I am quite serious when I say very moist–no dry pound cake for me! The outside has a crunchy, sugary crust that is to die for. (My absolute favorite part!)
The whole thing is covered in fluffy, whipped cream cheese frosting to boot.
As a bonus, this is an easy, make-ahead dessert. Freezing it is crucial to the final product and I will explain below in my notes.
(The notes are important this time, folks, because there are a few tricks on how to get that crunchy crust and moist center.)
I use organic products and grass fed butter when baking. (As much as I have access to.)
Yes, this is a gluten filled recipe, and I guess I’m kind of ruining the healthy streak I have had with all my gluten free stuff, but I still cook and bake like a regular person sometimes.
One day I will try this with a gluten free all purpose baking flour and I’ll let you know how it goes.
- So, one of the things that really makes a pound cake moist is to freeze it. Someone told me that a few years ago, and trust me, it really makes a difference.
So there are a couple of different ways you can do this, and I have done it both of these ways.
- First, you can make the cake, glaze it according to the directions in the recipe, and let it cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Then, remove it from the pan onto a platter or cardboard round (you will need to run a knife around the edges to loosen), then place in the freezer for at least 24 hours. After that, you can thaw it and frost it.
- The second way is to let it cool, then turn it out onto a platter or cardboard round, frost it, then freeze it. Your choice. Leave the lime slices off until you are ready to serve it.
- Let it come to room temperature before serving. I think it tastes better than straight out of the fridge.
- It’s really important to glaze it while it is still hot, but you don’t want to make the glaze ahead of time because it gets to thick. So, remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a wire rack. Immediately make the glaze, then immediately pour it over the hot cake and allow it so seep in while the cake cools. I take a thin, wooden skewer and poke a few holes in the cake to allow the glaze to seep in even more.
- I use bottled key lime juice, but you could certainly use fresh key limes if you have them.
- The zest is very important and will definitely add a lot of flavor. (And cute little specks of green.) Don’t skimp on that. I use regular limes if I don’t have key limes.
- You could also use lime essential oil in the cake and frosting as well. Probably just a couple of drops is all it will take. Taste as you go.
- I use a straight edge tube pan for this recipe, that’s easier to frost the sides than a regular bundt pan.
- Coating the pan with butter and sugar is crucial to the crunchy crust on the cake. Super important!
- 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 3 tablespoons Key lime juice (I use bottled)
- The zest of two limes
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-2 tablespoons softened butter for greasing the pan
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar for coating the pan
- ¼ cup Key lime juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons key lime juice
- The zest of one lime
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and the sugar on medium speed with a stand mixer. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add 3 tablespoons key lime juice, the lime zest and the vanilla and mix. Add the flour, salt, and making soda on low speed, then stream in buttermilk and increase speed to medium again until mixed, stopping to scrape down the sides.
- Wipe the inside of a tube pan (light colored stainless steel—dark pans will cause the cake to brown to quickly) with 1-2 tablespoons of butter, being careful to cover every inch of the inside of the pan. Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and turn, shake, and rotate pan so that the sugar sticks to the butter on every side in the pan. Dump out the excess sugar.
- Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out top. Bake for 50-65 minutes or JUST until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached, not wet batter. It’s important not to over bake. Keep checking every 3-4 minutes at the 50 minute mark. Every oven is different. When done, place on wire rack and immediately make the glaze. Pour the glaze over the top, spreading it to the sides and center of the pan so it can seep down between the cake and pan. Cool completely. (Glaze will harden as it sets.) Carefully turn out onto a cardboard cake round or a cake plate. (I like to poke a few holes in the top of the cake with a thin wooden skewer so that the glaze will seep down through the holes.)
- Place in freezer and freeze for at least 24 hours. Remove from freezer and let thaw at room temperature before frosting. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Store in fridge, but this is best served at room temperature.
- To make the glaze: Add the ¼ cup lime juice, the butter and the powdered sugar to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking often, until butter is melted and everything is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Use immediately.
- To make the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar, lime juice and zest. Beat on low speed with whip attachment, then increase to high speed until light and fluffy.
- **You can also freeze the cake after you add the frosting.