vanilla cake with key lime curd

Oh y'all... this is too damn good to be true. Soft vanilla cake, tart lime curd and creamy cream cheese frosting?! Oh. Hell. Yes. 

I cobbled this recipe together from disparate sources as I am wont to do. I started jonesing for some key lime action, then polled a couple of trusted friends via text to help me decide on which flavors to pick.  This recipe reminds me of the top tier of our wedding cake which was a vanilla cake with a key lime filling -- appropriate for a Florida beach side wedding. But spring is starting to emerge and it's time to bring those tropical flavors back into the mix.

Mini vanilla cakes with key lime curd 

Makes about 10-12 cakes depending if you make 2 or 3 layer cakes

Vanilla cake (from Add a Pinch)

1 c (8 oz) butter, softened
1/2 c vegetable shortening
3 c (600g) granulated sugar
5 eggs, room temp
3 c (12 3/4 oz or 390g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c whole milk, room temp
1/2 c buttermilk, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract

Key lime curd (from Sugar & Soul)

3 eggs
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice (~10-12 key limes)
1 Tbsp key lime zest
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter

Cream cheese frosting

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 c confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

I generally make the key lime curd ahead of time. You can store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

1. Make the key lime curd

  1. In a small pot, off the burner, whisk together eggs and sugar until well blended.
  2. Whisk in key lime juice, zest, and salt.
  3. Heat on medium-low burner and stir fast and constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is warmed through.
  4. Add the butter about a tablespoon at a time until melted, and the curd becomes smooth.
  5. Continue stirring constantly over heat until the curd thickens and looks almost creamy (should coat the back of a spoon).
  6. Optionally, you may strain the curd through a cheese cloth or fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl to remove the zest and any small clumps. (I didn't). Or just place the curd into a medium sized bowl. 
  7. Place cling wrap over the top of the curd. It should touch the curd and cover it completely to help avoid a skin from forming. Pop it in the fridge until completely cooled, about an hour or so.

2. Make and bake the cake.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baker's half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and shortening until light and fluffy with an electric mixer (about 3-5 minutes). Slowly add sugar one cup at a time, making sure each cup is incorporated before adding the next. Add the eggs the same way. (Be careful not to overbeat the mixture).
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the milks and vanilla into a measuring cup and whisk together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
  4. Gently stir until well combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  5. Evenly distribute the cake batter into the half sheet, leveling the surface with an offset spatula. It should be about 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick or cake testing inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

3. While the cakes cool, make the frosting.

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with electric mixer.
  2. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth. 

4. Assemble once everything is coolio.

  1. Place the curd into a piping bag with a 1/2 inch round tip.
  2. Place the frosting into a piping bag with the decorative tip of your choice.
  3. Use a 3 inch round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut the sheet cake into circles.
  4. Stack one round cake, pipe a line of frosting around the edge and fill the center with curd. Stack another round cake and repeat the frosting and filling. Top with another round cake and decorate the top as you please with frosting or curd (or both!)
  5. If you want to get fancy, you can slice a key lime thinly and twist or place a wedge on top for garnish. 

5. Eat

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