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Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

April 17, 2015

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

So I get married, Jay goes to Europe, and I get the urge to make a cake.

I never, ever make cakes. Mainly because I’m impatient, an you have to wait for cakes to cool before you take them out of the pans, then cool enough to frost them, etc. It’s a pain in the ass. I am not a cake person. Cupcakes, yes! Those are fun. And they cool fast. But cakes? No. Especially layer cakes. OH MY GOD HOW ANNOYING ARE LAYER CAKES?!

So I cheated with this one, and made it one layer. And added lime zest. And candied limes.

Zesting limes!

I had a lot of limes.

About three/four weeks before the wedding I got sick. Really sick. Bronchitis and sore-throat-like-swallowing-knives-sick. I was sick for well over a week, and my stubborn ass wouldn’t go to the doctor. Then, four days before the wedding, Jay got sick.  FOUR DAYS. He (thankfully) went and got super antibiotics and by the day of he felt fine. Then, the day of the wedding, my dad was sick. Two days after, my mother got sick. What the what? I’m telling you- people are dropping like flies around here. Stupid early spring sickness.

So, I had stocked up on citrus fruits to ward off the germs. I’m talking bowls and bowls of Cara Cara oranges, limes, lemons and those little Halo things. I was drinking Pellegrino and water with big slices of citrus (and spraying Lysol disinfectant spray) in hopes I’d get rid of anything hanging around. Then when I was better, and Jay was better, and he left for Europe… I started to realize I needed to use these babies up ASAP.

Candied limes.

Hence, some cake.

And candied limes.

Candied limes are cool because they become almost literally like eating a piece of candy. The fruit kind of transforms into a gummy-kind of texture, and its like eating a healthy gummy candy. Sort of. And they store well. They’re perfect for topping cakes or cupcakes or cookies, or for snacking. Any kind of citrus fruits when candied are like that. And the candied rinds are awesome, too. If you’ve never tried it, try it. It isn’t hard.

Candied limes.



  • 1 large lime or two small limes, sliced into thin rounds (my rounds are always uneven- a good knife doesn’t help lack of skill)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water


  1. In a medium saucepan, stir the sugar into the water and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
  2. When the liquid is clear and beginning to bubble, drop the slices in carefully. A little overlapping is okay, and you can layer them if you need to. Just make sure they’re all mostly submerged. Bring the heat to medium low- do not boil!
  3. Let them simmer for 40 minutes or until translucent. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack over it. When the slices are ready, place them on the wire rack using tongs. Sprinkle with more sugar lightly. Let set for 6-8 hours or until mostly firm.
  4. Slices can be stored in the syrup for up to a week in the fridge. Also, the syrup can be stored in a jar and used in cocktails or drinks!

Lime simple syrup, left over from making candied limes.

Seriously, save that syrup! You don’t want to toss that stuff, it’s like liquid gold. So after you use the little bit you need for this cake… SAVE IT. Use it mixed with rum, gin or vodka for a summery spring-y drink, or just use a dash of it in club soda or seltzer. It’s especially great to have it around during the summer, when everyone wants a refreshing cocktail.

You can also spoon it over just about any kind of cake there is for an added bit of zing. Which, like I said, is exactly what you’re going to do with this cake!

Vanilla lime cake with candied limes.

VANILLA CAKE WITH A TWIST OF LIME (adapted from Chatelaine’s classic vanilla cake)


  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • the finely grated zest of 1 large lime
  • 1/4 cup lime simple syrup (from candied limes)
  • Candied limes


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray an 8″-square pan with PAM. Line bottom with parchment if you plan on taking it out of the pan to serve.
  2. Stir the flour and baking powder with the salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat the butter & sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined, scraping down the sides. Add vanilla & one tablespoon of zest and beat. Gently beat in one-third of flour mixture, then one-third the milk. Repeat, ending with flour mixture.
  4. Add to greased pan and tap on counter to distribute. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack, out of the pan (if desired). Cool for an hour.
  5. Poke holes in the top of cake with a toothpick. Drizzle with simple syrup. Let sit 10 minutes.
  6. Frost cake with vanilla frosting (below). Sprinkle with remaining zest, and add candied lime slices on top. Serve!

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.


Frosts one 8″ layer


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Beat butter in a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, until creamy, 1 minute. Add vanilla and 1 cup sugar, beat for 1 minute.
  2. Reduce speed and beat in remaining sugar in 3 parts, alternating with milk (in 2 parts), ending with sugar.
  3. Beat on medium-high, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until fluffy, 1 to 2 min. Add more milk or sugar as needed to thicken/loosen.
  4. Frost completely cooled cake.

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

You can also double the cake and frosting recipes and make a layer cake with two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans, if you want. Makes a great birthday cake. And if you add some lime curd filling in between layers you’ll really knock it out of the park!

Also- you can substitute any citrus fruit for the limes. This cake also transcends seasons; it’s just as mouthwatering in winter when citrus abounds as it is in the spring.

SOUNDTRACK: Dolly Parton – “Jolene”
SOURCES & CREDITS: Silpat; Williams-Sonoma, spatula; Wilton, Ball® 12-oz. Quilted Crystal Jelly Jar;, glass prep/mixing bowls; Williams-Sonoma.
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