For Ellie’s birthday, I needed to find something citrus-y per her request (which she begrudgingly revealed only after I insisted she tell me her favorite flavor). Since I’ve never been a big fan of citrus flavors in baked goods, I tend to avoid these types of recipes. This was an excellent opportunity to branch out, and I’m quite glad I did: this cake rocks! A sort of cross between key lime and mojito, it’s bursting with flavor and surprisingly rich. Cut smaller slices than you think you’ll need, close your eyes, and enjoy all the delicious flavors of a mojito with significantly less of the alcohol. Which makes this cake perfectly acceptable to bring to group meeting in the middle of the day, right? Santé!
The cake, rum syrup, and lime cream cheese frosting recipes are only slightly adapted from Two Peas‘ recipe for adorable mojito cupcakes; the whipped cream recipe came from Bakerella‘s recipe for a stunningly gorgeous key lime cake.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. rum (Captain Morgan’s Spice Rum if possible)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
3 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
Directions to make the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the sides and bottoms of three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment or wax paper circles, and grease the top of the paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until well-mixed. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, rum, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in an electric stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes). Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
5. Scrape the sides of the bowl periodically throughout this process: Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture, and mix well. Add ½ of the buttermilk mixture and beat for one minute. Add another 1/3 of the dry mixture; beat until combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk mixture; beat for one minute. Add the rest of the dry mixture; beat for one minute until the batter is smooth. Beat in the chopped mint last.
6. Pour into cake pans, dividing the batter evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Make the rum syrup (below) during the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
7. Let cool for 5 minutes and then poke holes all over the surface with a skewer, toothpick, or fork. Spoon the rum syrup evenly over the warm cakes and let cool completely before frosting. Or, carefully level off the tops of the cakes. The “exposed” cakes will much more easily absorb the syrup.
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
¼ cup rum
zest of 1 lime
3 sprigs fresh mint
Directions to make the syrup:
Combine the sugar, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat once the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Carefully mix in the rum. Add the lime zest and fresh mint, and let the syrup infuse for 5 minutes before using to spoon over the cakes. It’s going to seem like a lot of syrup, but use at least 3/4 if not all of it, because it makes this cake amazingly moist!
LIME CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
12 ounces cream cheese
~8 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. lime juice
½ tbsp. rum
optional: green food coloring (gel, not liquid)
Directions to make the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, lime juice, and rum. Carefully blend in the powdered sugar until you are satisfied with the consistency. Add green food coloring as desired. Scrape the sides of the bowl regularly and mix until well-blended. Spread on cooled cakes (refrigerate the cakes first to make them much easier to work with).
16 oz. heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
optional: fresh mint sprigs
Directions to make the whipped cream:
Chill metal bowl and beaters in freezer for about 20 minutes. When ready to whip, add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl and beat at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Pipe onto your frosted cake, and decorate with fresh mint.
Store cake in the refrigerator until about an hour before you want to serve it.
Fortunately, my graduate student stipend isn’t contingent on my cake decorating skills. If it were, they’d have kicked me, jobless, out in the snow already! (Also: snow? In mid-March? REALLY?? As if I didn’t miss California enough already…)