This Key Lime Cake recipe is a perfect balance of sweet and tart just like a key lime pie! Each moist and tender yet dense bite of this pound cake is packed with citrus flavor then topped with a delicious cream cheese glaze. The finishing glaze will coat your lips and take your tastebuds straight to heaven!
I’ve learned everything I know about cakes from my Big Mama; she was the true Queen of Cake. Growing up, I spent many lazy afternoons on a step stool helping to cream butter or measure out sugar. Big Mama would hum while I glazed then we chatted while eating a slice.
This Key Lime Cake is a testament to the skills my Big Mama taught me. Each bite is buttery, zesty, fragrant and sweet. So perfect. It also has the perfect pound cake texture. Dense yet light. Moist and tender.
This recipe is an ode to all things fresh and bountiful. It may not be Spring just yet but maybe this Key Lime Cake will bring us one step (or bite) closer!
The Heart and Soul of this Key Lime Cake Recipe
What Are Key Limes?
A key lime is a hybrid citrus fruit that is green when picked and yellow when ripe. Compared to a regular lime, key limes are smaller, more acidic, have a stronger citrus aroma and a thinner rind. A key lime’s juice is sweet and tart but somewhat more bitter than its everyday counterpart.
Key Limes are often used in very sweet desserts; their tartness balances out the sweetness of sugar in wonderfully unique way.
TIP: Take a trip to your local bodega if you’re struggling to track down this rare find. Bodegas will often have cheaper pricing as well. Win.
You’ve heard me say this before but I’ll say it one more time for the new folks: pound cakes are crazy easy to make. Simple ingredients, one bowl and a baking time long enough to take a nap, all come together to make the easiest homemade dessert ever.
In a simple recipe, each ingredient plays a key role and their contributions are epic. Below are some of unsuspecting all- stars of this cake:
Cream cheese is the difference between a dry pound cake and a moist one. On its own, cream cheese is creamy and subtle in flavor; it’s addition is incredible for infusing moisture.
Key Lime Juice and Zest
Key Limes pack an incredible amount of tartness, more so than a traditional lime. Each drop of juice cuts through the sweetness and creates that “lip smacker” experience.
Citrus zest is full of fragrant and flavorful oil. Even the smallest addition of zest intensifies the lime flavors and makes your cake smell amazing!
Cake flour is lighter than all-purpose flour and produces an airer texture in this pound cake. Using a dense flour would only weigh down the ingredients and create a rock-like cake.
How to Make Key Lime Cake
For the Cake:
- Prep: Preheat that oven to 325°F and get your 12-cup bundt pan ready with a good spray of non-stick baking magic.
- Mix: In a mixer, whip together butter, oil (or shortening), and cream cheese for 2 minutes. Gradually introduce sugar, continuing to beat until it’s all fluffy and pale yellow (about 7 minutes). Add eggs one by one, ensuring each is well-incorporated.
- Combine: On low speed, gently add flour (in two stages), salt, zest, and juice. Remember, don’t overmix; we want tender, not tough. Finish with a dash of vanilla extract.
- Bake: Pour that gorgeous batter into your pan and bake for 1 hour and 15-25 minutes. It’s perfect when a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and wait for it to cool down completely.
For the Glaze:
- Blend: Mix up a smooth, dreamy concoction of cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and key lime juice.
- Drizzle: Once your cake is cool, lavish it with your zesty glaze.
As much as we’d like to eat an entire pound cake in one sitting, it’s probably not recommended. Bummer, right? Fortunately, it’s super easy to store leftover cake and preserve all that hard you put in!
Your key lime pound cake will do quite well tightly wrapped (using plastic wrap and foil), refrigerated or frozen. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to six months.
TIP: Thaw your cake on the counter without unwrapping for best results.
Additional Pound Cake Recipes to Try
Pound Cakes come in many different shapes, sizes and flavors. As a pound cake connoisseur, I’ve baked just about every variety possible. Here are some of my favorite Spring inspired recipes to brighten up the last of your Winter days!
Key Lime Cake Recipe
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tbsp shortening or oil
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs room temperature
- 3 cups plus 1 tablespoon of sifted cake flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp key lime zest
- 2 1/2 tbsp key lime juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Glaze
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp key lime juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Cake
- Start by preheating your oven to 325°F then liberally spray a 12-cup bundt pan with non-stick baking spray.
- In your mixer bowl, add butter, oil or shortening, and cream cheese and beat for 2 minutes on high speed. Slowly add in sugar beat on high speed for an additional seven minutes until very pale yellow and fluffy.
- Next, add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed.
- Turn your mixer down to its lowest speed, and slowly add flour into batter in two increments then add salt, zest and juice. Be careful not to over beat.
- Lastly, add in vanilla extract, scrape down sides and mix until well combined and turn off mixer.
- Pour cake batter into prepared bundt pan, and bake for 1 hour and 15 -25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cake on serving plate for at least an hour or until the cake is cool to the touch.
For the Glaze
- Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract and key lime juice until smooth then pour over top of cooled cake and serve. Note: this icing must be refrigerated so keep that in mind.