I love lime but I’ve found it so difficult to find ways to enjoy their unique flavour without it being in some form of a mammoth-sized Key Lime pie. However, I now have a solution to this problem: lime cake. A beautifully light lime sponge, soaked in lime syrup and sandwiched with a cream cheese and passion fruit frosting – it’s the definition of refreshing. Both passion fruit and limes are packed full of vitamin C, with around 30mg and 29.1mg per 100g (respectively); though I wouldn’t necessarily use this cake as my daily source of vitamin C, it’s nice to know there is at least a little bit of nutritional value in it.
We start the recipe with the lime sponge. In essence, it is a simple sponge cake with the vanilla extract switched out for lime zest. When zesting the limes, make sure to try and only zest the bright green surface of the peel, as opposed to the white, more bitter-tasting pith. I found I needed to use two and a bit limes in order to get two full tablespoons of zest. Of course, if you wanted to add more then simply zest another full lime as this recipe results in a more subtly flavoured sponge.
This leads me nicely on to the lime syrup, which, in all honesty, was an afterthought. After levelling off my sponges ready for stacking, and ‘tasting’ the offcuts (a very important step in the process all bakers know well…), I decided to make the lime syrup to further bring out the taste of the sponge, and to keep the cake from drying out. Though there are only a couple tablespoons soaked into each layer, it makes all the difference. If you are a lime-lover, DO NOT skip this step.
And finally, the frosting. Often beautiful cakes are spoiled with dense, sickly sweet butter icing, but not this one. The cream cheese provides not only a velvety smooth texture but a slight acidity, which balances out the syrup-soaked cake. The passion fruit pulp colours the frosting naturally to a beautiful pale yellow, and the seeds scattered in between the layers provide a crunchy change in texture as well as a touch of contrast in colour.
Stacked up and frosted generously, this cake is simultaneously fresh and tangy and utterly indulgent, a real all rounder certain to be a winner with everyone and anyone.
For the Cake
- 3 Medium free-range eggs
- 180g Margarine
- 180g Caster Sugar
- 180g Self Raising Flour
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 tbsp Lime Zest (approx 2½ Limes)
- 1-2 tbsp milk
For the Syrup
- The Juice of 2 limes
- 70g Caster Sugar
For the Frosting
- 125g Cream Cheese, softened
- 40g Butter, softened
- 150g Icing Sugar, sifted
- 2 Passion fruits
- Preheat the oven to 180°c/350 Fahrenheit/Gas Mark 4
- Grease two (7″) circular cake pans and line the bases with baking parchment.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the margarine, sugar, lime zest and eggs; beat with an electric beater on low speed for 2 minutes, or until combined.
- Add milk gradually to get the batter to a dropping consistency.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-35 minutes, or until risen and golden (and springs back when pressed lightly)
- Remove the cakes from the oven, and leave to cool slightly before taking them out of the tins.
- Leave to completely cool.
- Make the syrup in the meantime: place the lime juice and the caster sugar in a microwave safe bowl.
- Heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until all sugar has dissolved; set aside to cool.
- Make the passion fruit/cream cheese frosting: use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter in a bowl until smooth and creamy.
- Gradually add the icing sugar, in batches, beating well after each addition.
- Add the passionfruit pulp and beat until well combined.
- Level the now-cooled cakes and slice in half, resulting in 4 layers.
- Take the first layer and spoon over approximately 2 tablespoons of the cooled lime syrup.
- Dollop on three to four heaped tablespoons of frosting and spread out almost to the edges.
- Repeat this process for the rest of the layers until all syrup and frosting is used up.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of white chocolate, a few sprigs of mint or more passionfruit pulp.
- Serve up and dig in.
Notes: Adapted from taste.com.au’s ‘passionfruit cream-cheese frosting’; Tesco real food ‘lime syrup loaf cake’