This lime cake is made totally from scratch, filled with homemade lime curd, and topped with super creamy cream cheese frosting. If you’re a fan of citrus dessert you need to try this soon!
Hello hello! I have the most amazing (from scratch!) lime cake for you today!
This is what we have going on: soft lime cake layers filled homemade lime curd and topped lime cream cheese frosting.
It’s a deliciously refreshing treat for warm (early) spring days and a wonderfully sunny treat for chilly late winter ones—this cake has you covered wherever you live!
Why you’ll love this lime cake:
- No stand mixer required! Just a handheld electric mixer!
- It will keep in the fridge for several days so you can make it ahead
- If you want to simplify things, you can totally use store-bought lime curd—your cake will still be delicious!
How to make lime curd
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar vigorously until smooth
- Add lime juice and lime zest, then stir to combine
- Cook in the top of a double boiler until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon—the curd is done when you can dip a spoon into the curd and run your finger through it without the curd filling in
- Stir in butter 1 tablespoon at a time until fully combined
And that’s it! Cool to room temp, then refrigerate until fully chilled.
- Be sure to zest your limes before you juice them; if you juice them first, they’ll be really hard to zest.
- Once your curd is done you can push it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any chunks of zest if you want. (I don’t do that because I grate my zest really finely with a microplane but it’s totally up to your personal preferences.)
- When the curd is finished and you’ve transferred it to a bowl to cool off, immediately press a piece of plastic wrap into the top; this prevents a skin from forming.
- You can make your lime curd several days in advance; it will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week.
How to make your cake layers
- Whisk together your dry ingredients and set aside
- Beat room temperature butter with an electric mixer until smooth
- Add sugar, eggs, and a few other ingredients and beat until light and fluffy
- Alternate mixing in dry ingredients and buttermilk
- Beat just until the batter is smooth
- Divide batter between 8-inch cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes
- Your butter really needs to be at room temperature or it won’t mix well with the other ingredients. Twenty to 30 minutes on the counter should be enough time to bring it to temp.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use whole milk mixed with a little white vinegar or lemon juice (see the recipe card for exact amounts).
- Be sure to cool your cake layers completely before you fill and frost them. If you don’t, your frosting will melt and you’ll have a mess on your hands!
- If you prefer to make your cake layers a day ahead of assembling your cake, you can store them, tightly wrapped, at room temperature overnight. (Be sure they’re fully cooled before you wrap them or they’ll sweat and get soggy!)
How to make lime cream cheese frosting
- Beat room temperature butter and cream cheese together until smooth
- Mix in lime curd, vanilla, and salt
- Gradually beat in powdered sugar, mixing until very fluffy
Assembling your cake
Assembling your cake is really simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. (Hooray!)
- Spread a layer of frosting over one cake layer
- Top with a few tablespoons of lime curd and spread that into an even layer, leaving a perimeter around the edge of the cake so it doesn’t leak into the final layer of frosting
Repeat with another layer of cake, more frosting, and more lime curd. Top with the final cake layer and frost and decorate as desired!
How to store your cake
Because this cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting, you’ll want to refrigerate it. You can store uneaten cake, covered with plastic wrap or a cake cover, in the refrigerator for up to three days.
I think the cake tastes best at room temperature, so if you refrigerate it let it sit at room temp for a bit before serving it.
Lime cake can also be stored in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months. I like to freeze individual slices for about half an hour, then wrap them tightly with layers of plastic wrap and foil.
How to use up egg whites
After making your lime curd, you’ll have five leftover egg whites; egg whites last for up to 4 days in the fridge. (Or see below for instructions on freezing leftover egg whites.)
You have lots of options for using up egg whites! Here are a few recipes:
Can I freeze egg whites?
Absolutely you can freeze egg whites! Whenever I have leftover egg whites, I put them in a mason jar, put a sticky note on top with the number of whites, and stick the jar in the freezer for use at a later date. Egg whites last in the freezer for up to a year.
I’ve read in a few places that frozen egg whites don’t whip very well, meaning they’re ok for omelets, etc., but not for meringues or anything that needs stiffly beaten whites.
However, in my experience, that’s not true at all. I’ve made angel food cakes with frozen egg whites literally more times than I can count.
My grandma always used frozen egg whites in her cakes and so does my mother. So I say you’re fine to freeze your whites for baking later on.
When I’m baking with frozen egg whites, I defrost them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, they’re ready to be brought up to room temperature and used in all kinds of treats.
Can I use key limes in this cake?
Definitely! If you’d rather make a key lime cake than a regular lime cake it’s no problem. But since key limes are smaller than regular limes you’ll need to use more than the recipe specifies.
- A microplane is super helpful anytime you make a recipe with citrus zest; microplanes grate the zest really finely.
- As always, a cake turntable and an offset spatula are helpful when you’re frosting cakes
- I used a large open star tip to pipe frosting around the top of the cake
Did you make this lime cake? That’s great! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. Then post a pic on IG–tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your delicious creations!
This lime cake is made totally from scratch and it's a delicious treat for lovers of citrusy desserts!
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest of 3 limes*
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice from 3 to 4 limes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into 8 chunks
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- finely grated zest of 2 to 3 limes**
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*+
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons chilled lime curd
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream if necessary
- Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth.
- Whisk in the lime juice and zest. Pour the mixture into the top of a double boiler set over simmering water.
- Cook, stirring, until mixture is pale in color and thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon—about 15 to 20 minutes. (See the body of this post for a visual guide to determining when your lime curd is done.)
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to melt each pat of butter before adding the next.
- Scrape the curd into a clean mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. (If you prefer, you can strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve to eliminate any lime zest before putting it in the clean bowl.)
- Refrigerate until completely chilled before using. Once chilled, lime curd can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to about a week.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment, spray the parchment with cooking spray, and set pans aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. (These are the dry ingredients.)
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Add the sugar, vanilla, lime zest, and eggs and beat on medium until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Stop the mixer a few times to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.)
- With mixer on low, beat in half of the dry ingredients until just combined. Beat in half of the buttermilk.
- Beat in the remaining flour, then the remaining butter milk until just incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to stir a few times to ensure all of the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Divide batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Cool the cake layers in the pans for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans to loosen. Carefully turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.
- Beat the butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
- Beat in the lime curd, vanilla and salt. With mixer on low, gradually beat in 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.
- Once all the sugar is incorporated, turn mixer to medium and beat until the frosting is smooth. If frosting is too thick, beat in a little milk. If it’s too thin, beat in more powdered sugar.
- Use a long serrated knife to trim your cake layers if they've domed.
- Set 1 cooled cake layer on a cake stand or cardboard cake circle. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top, then spread about 2 to 3 tablespoons of lime curd over that; don’t go all the way to the edge with the curd.
- Top with a second layer, more frosting, and more lime curd. Top with the third cake layer. Frost and decorate your cake as desired. Slice and serve.
- Uneaten lime cake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be stored in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months.
- *Zest your limes before juicing them; it’s really hard to zest limes once they’ve been juiced.
- **Use 3 limes for a more pronounced flavor and 2 for a more subtle flavor.
- *+You can substitute 1 1/2 cups whole milk mixed with 2 1/2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar. Stir them together and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then you’re ready to use it.
- If you prefer, you can use store-bought lime curd between the cake layers.
- See the body of this post for tips for storing and using the egg whites you’ll have left over after you make your lime curd.