Key limes, $.99 a bag, what a deal. 15 limes per bag. What a steal - or at least what a steal for San Diego - but what to do with them. Oh sure, I could have just squeezed them all and made a big pitcher of Margaritas. Hmmm...............on second thought, not a bad idea. I've got the Mexican lime juicer, one of the best kitchen devices ever invented, BTW. But no. I was in the mood for something sweet. I was in the mood to bake. A lime bundt cake seemed to be just the thicket.
Baking's not really difficult or time consuming, it's mostly being able to follow instructions and not deviate too much. With regular cooking you can kind of wing it and get creative, but baking depends upon specific formulas for success. Mess with the formula too much and it's a recipe for disaster. Baking is also a little bit like cooking Chinese, it goes better and faster if you get everything ready and assembled before you start baking. With that in mind, here's where I started
Yeah, that's Alton Brown Gear in the background there. It looked really cool and really easy to use on his show, but alas, it's not all that convenient, especially when you get to the top of the measure. It gets messy and hard to fill. But it does make adding stuff to a KitchenAid stand mixer pretty easy.
First things first, cream the butter, 8 oz of it (or 2 sticks)
Then add sugar. The purpose here is to get the sugar to dissolve in the butter, or at least get to the point where it's only sort of grainy when you rub a bit between you thumb and finger. Sugar is part of what makes the cake tender, in this case 2 cups of the granulated stuff. Here's what 5 minutes of creaming will do.
Eggs are next, 5 of 'em. Eggs add more fat and more tenderness but also act as a binder, it's part of what's going to hold the structure of the cake together.
3 cups of flour that had been sifted with 2 tsp. of baking powder and a 1/2 tsp. of salt - in this case, sea salt from Colima, Mexico - was added to the creamed mixture alternately with 1 cup of milk until barely just incorporated. I had grated the zest of 4 key limes with my microplane and folded that in and then poured the whole lot into the bundt pan.
Into the oven at 350* the cake went for what the recipe said would be 1 1/4 hours. I know my oven has a tendency to cook fast, but this was ridiculous. The cake was done after about 35 mintues. So either the recipe had the oven temp wrong, or the time was wrong........or both. One of the benefits of having baked my entire life is that I have enough experience to know when a cake is really done. I could kick myself for not trusting my baking instincts. But nooooooooo, I just couldn't believe the cake was done after being in the oven for less than have the prescribed baking time. I left it in to bake a little longer.
After cooling for 15 mintues I turned it out of the pan onto a rack set over a square of non-stick foil in preparation for glazing.
The glaze is crazy simple; a 1/2 cup of fresh lime juice and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar. Key limes, on the other hand, are not crazy simple, they're seedy, marble sized citrus fruits that defy easy juicing. That is at least unless you have the deceptively simple Mexican lime juicer. Just cut the lime in half, turn it upside down into the bowl of the juicer and squeeze. It's quick, easy and not an upper body workout like it would be using a regular reamer. The Mexican lime juicer is that silve contraption in the photo below
Since the cake is still pretty hot when the glaze is applied, it will readily soak it up. Some will drip off. Hence the non-stick foil. No need to waste the glaze that has dripped off, just mop it up off the foil and keep glazing away until every drop has been absorbed into the cake.
It was pretty good, especially with ice cream, but those extra few mintues of baking took their toll. The texture/crumb was fine and light but a little on the dry side. There was also a thin, crusty, slightly crunchy shell around the entire cake from too much heat. The Key Lime flavor was pronounced, tart and refreshing. It is a very easy cake to make and I will try it again. I think this recipe would lend itself to other citrus fruits as well, making this a pretty versatile receipe. I'm thinking ruby red grapefruit might be an interesting choice, as might orange.
Blackberries, blackberry coulis or that coconut sorbet from Whole Fruit would also go really well with the lime version of this cake.