I have never heard of key lime cake. Key lime pie, yes. But cake? I’d never even thought about that one. I’m not the biggest fan of key lime pie- it’s a little too tangy-sweet for me. However, I know there are plenty of people out there that like key lime and key lime pie, and I was sure I’d find someone to eat it.
I made this cake the same night that I made the Sour Cream Coffee Cake. That was kind of an involved night. This cake, however, was way more involved than the coffee cake. It’s not a particularly difficult cake to make, it’s the lime juice.
So I went through the motions. I followed all of MG’s directions. I made the batter. I even put the zest in (maybe they’re not so bad…). I poured it in a cake pan, and let it bake. One weird thing that you’re supposed to do with this cake is bake it for 20 minutes, then cover it with aluminum foil and bake it for 20 minutes more. This was irksome- I don’t know about you, but it’s not that easy for me to wrap a cake pan in aluminum foil when it has been in a 350 degree F oven. And it was annoying to unwrap the cake to test to see if it was done (it wasn’t- required re-wrapping). But my least favorite part? The foil stuck to the top of the cake!
As the cake baked, I got to work on the limes. I have two words for you: Oy vey.
If you’re smart, you’ll buy key lime juice at the market. I have juiced key limes in the past and know what a pain it is. But I read the recipe, and it says “1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice (about 4 limes).” So I thought, I can do that! That won’t be bad at all. Just four limes. and bought key limes.
I don’t know what kind of crazy, beefed up Key limes they have in DC, but there is absolutely no way that four Key limes could produce 1/2 cup juice. I don’t know why I thought four would be enough. Key limes are tiny. They don’t make that much juice. Can you guess how many key limes it actually took to make 1/2 cup juice? I’ll give you a hint: 4 wasn’t even half.
In the end, it took 16 limes. 16! I have no idea where the book’s suggestion of 4 came from, because it wasn’t even close. I can understand being a few limes off, especially with the small size of the limes. But this was only 1/4 of the total juice needed! MG and ACC were way off.
The recipe also calls for 1 tablespoon Key lime juice, which MG and ACC say will come from 1 lime. Actually, she says “Grate the rind of 1 Key lime. Squeeze out about 1 tablespoon of the juice.” This suggests to me that there will be more than 1 tablespoon of juice in the lime. But it wasn’t enough- almost, but not enough.
Next time I’m just going to buy the Key lime juice in a bottle, like a smart person.
I mixed all this hard-earned Key lime juice with powdered sugar to make [yet another!] glaze (which was more like a sweet juice than a glaze) and then poured it over the cake. The recipe says to do this while the cake is on a rack, but I don’t have one (yet another thing to put on the to-buy list), so I just poured it all on the cake while it was on a plate and hoped for the best. The juice is supposed to drip through the cake (and the rack), where it is caught and poured over the cake again. Since I didn’t allow the glaze to drip through and then be reapplied to the top, I think all of the glaze just settled to the bottom.
I covered the cake up, ready to be taken to dinner the next night. Which I had to cancel on, because a cousin came into town. So the cake wasn’t eaten. The next day, I found one corner was gone. And then, suddenly, the cake was gone. I didn’t even try it. I never even finished it! It needed a dusting of powdered sugar on top.
The corner was eaten by my parents, who wanted to give the cake a try. And then, when no one touched it for a few days, my mom threw it away. I made them give me details on what she thought of the cake, because I didn’t get a chance to try it. My dad thought it was dry- probably because it sat around for a few days, but it’s also likely he only had the edge of the cake. My mom said that it was moist. She said that it was “simple but rich, with an overlay of tartness.” There was an occasional tartness that came in- probably because of the glaze soaking through. She also said it would be good with a cup of coffee or tea. (Thanks, Mom)
OK, so maybe it wasn’t a cake fail. But the fact that it wasn’t eaten is really my fault- I should have found some people to eat it instead of it going to waste. I hate wasting food, so that was frustrating. I should have found a way to share it with people. I also should have tried it myself.
I think this cake was doomed to fail with me. First of all, I don’t like key lime pie very much, so I don’t think my heart was really in the cake. But… just look at it. Like Candie said, it really does look like a piece of toast. I just couldn’t get excited about it or think it would be that yummy. I couldn’t be that proud of it if I shared it with people. It’s not very appetizing to me.
First thing I’d change: the cake pan. I made it in a square pan but it could also be made in a round pan- definitely going for the round pan if I ever make this again. Also, I need to invest in a cooling rack, so the glazing could be done properly. And maybe I’d decorate it a bit. But most importantly: if I do make this again, I’ll remember to buy the key lime juice separately.