This Key Lime Pound Cake is dense, moist and packed with Southern key lime flavor. Topped with our sweet and sour key lime glaze, it’s a simple homemade cake that’s perfect for spring and summer.
Key Lime Pound Cake Recipe
There’s something so perfectly simple about this homemade Key Lime Pound Cake recipe. Usually reserved for Key Lime Pie, these tiny tropical limes are ultra tart and super aromatic. Our recipe uses both the fresh zest and juice from key limes, along with a little lime extract, to really pack a punch of tangy citrus flavor.
If you can’t find fresh key limes, skip the bottled stuff from the grocery store and use regular fresh limes instead. You won’t be disappointed. We top this pound cake with a simple key lime glaze for a dessert that’s perfect for just about any warm weather occasion.
Ingredients in Key Lime Pound Cake
- Butter - your butter should be soft so it’s best to pull it out to room temperature in advance. If you forget, you can microwave it for about 10 seconds at a time until softened but not melted.
- Cream Cheese - this adds moisture, flavor and great texture to the pound cake. Make sure it is softened at room temperature, just like the butter.
- Sugar - this recipe calls for granulated sugar.
- Eggs - any kind of large eggs will work. It’s best if they are room temperature so that they don’t cause the butter mixture to seize up. You can run them under warm water, too.
- Flour - either all-purpose flour or cake flour work best for pound cake.
- Milk - whole milk is best, although 2% makes a good substitute.
- Salt - sea salt works great.
- Key Lime Zest - use the zest from the key limes that you use to juice for the lime glaze. If you can’t find key limes, go ahead and use regular limes.
- Vanilla Extract - pure vanilla extract tastes best.
- Lime Extract - this gives the lime flavor in the cake a real boost. You can also substitute lemon extract, or skip it completely.
Glaze Recipe For Key Lime Pound Cake
- Powdered Sugar - this adds sweetness without any grittiness.
- Key Lime Juice - fresh key lime juice tastes best and is far better than the stuff from the bottle. If you can find key limes, the next best thing would be regular limes. Make sure and zest them before juicing.
- Lime Extract - this isn’t necessary but adds great lime flavor.
- Vanilla Extract - we like to use vanilla extract to compliment the lime flavor.
How to Make Key Lime Pound Cake
- Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or a stand mixer, whip together the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, or about 3-5 minutes.
- Mix the batter. Slowly add eggs, mixing after each addition and scraping down the sides as necessary to make the mixture smooth. Add the flour and mix on low speed until almost completely combined. Finally, add the milk, salt, lime zest, vanilla extract, and lime extract and mix.
- Bake. Grease and flour a 9-10 cup bundt pan then add your cake batter. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool. Once finished, remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Put a plate or serving dish on the top of the bundt cake pan and flip the cake onto the serving plate to cool completely.
- Make the glaze. In the meantime, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, key lime juice, lime extract and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Add more lime juice if necessary to reach your desired consistency.
- Glaze and serve. Drizzle the glaze over the pound cake and let it set up before slicing to serve with a dollop of whipped cream, fresh raspberries or a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Since key limes come from the Florida keys, they aren’t always available everywhere. If you can’t find fresh key limes, the next best substitute are Persian limes, or “regular” limes. The main difference is that key limes are smaller and a bit more tart with an almost floral smell. Regular limes are still a better substitute than bottled key lime juice, but that will also work in a pinch.
The first secret to moist pound cake is making sure you mix the ingredients correctly. You want your butter and cream cheese to be softened at room temperature so that they will cream properly with the sugar. Then, make sure your eggs are also at room temperature so that they will create an emulsion in the batter when added.
If your eggs are too cold, they will cause the butter to seize up when added. This can cause problems when the butter-heavy cake batter hits the oven because if it’s not emulfied properly, the butter can leak out taking a lot of the moisture with it.
The other secret is adding extra dairy in the form of cream cheese, sour cream or buttermilk. This extra dairy adds flavor and moisture to the pound cake.
You’ll often see pound cakes baked in a bundt pan or a round tube cake pan. Not only do they make an excellent presentation, but they also give more surface area which spreads the heat more evenly around the extremely dense cake batter. You can also bake in loaf pans, filling them up about ⅔ full. Just keep in mind that the bake time will need to be adjusted.
Top Topping Ideas for Key Lime Pound Cake
- Whipped Cream: A classic topping for any dessert, whipped cream adds a light and airy texture to the dense pound cake. Add a dollop or two on top of your slice and enjoy the decadence.
- Toasted Coconut: Toasted coconut flakes add a tropical twist to the cake and give it a nice crunch. Simply sprinkle the flakes on top of the cake before serving.
- Fruit Compote: A mix of fresh berries or sliced fruit makes for a colorful and refreshing topping. You can also cook the fruit down with sugar to create a sweet and juicy compote. Macerated Strawberries are always a good choice too.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: For those who have a sweet tooth, cream cheese frosting is a perfect match for the tangy key lime flavor. Spread a generous layer on top of the cake for a creamy and rich finish.
- Candied Key Lime Slices: Thinly sliced key limes cooked in a sugar syrup until they become candied make for a beautiful and unique topping. Plus, they add an extra punch of key lime flavor.
- Chocolate Ganache: For chocolate lovers, a rich and velvety ganache made with dark chocolate and heavy cream is the perfect complement to the tangy key lime cake.
- Chopped Candied Nuts: Adding chopped nuts such as pecans or almonds on top of the cake will give it a nice crunch and add a nutty flavor to the mix.
Storing and Freezing
- Room Temperature: wrap any unfinished cake in aluminum foil, or any airtight container, and store for up to 2 days at room temperature.
- Refrigerator: pound cake can also be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezing: wrap your unglazed pound cake well with plastic wrap and aluminum foil then place in a larger freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Once you are ready to eat, pull from the freezer and store at room temperature, or in the fridge, overnight. Glaze at least an hour before eating so it has a chance to set.
Key Lime Pound Cake Recipe
- 1 ½ cups Butter room temperature
- 8 ounces Cream Cheese room temperature
- 3 cups Sugar
- 6 large Eggs
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
- ¾ cup Milk
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 ½ tsps Key Lime Zest from 2-3 limes
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ½ teaspoon Lime Extract
Key Lime Glaze
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Key Lime Juice
- ¼ teaspoon Lime Extract
- ¼ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease and flour a 9-10 cup bundt cake pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, whip together the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, or about 3-5 minutes.
- Slowly add the eggs, mixing after each addition and scraping down the sides as necessary to make the mixture smooth. Add the flour and mix on low speed until almost completely combined. Finally, add the milk, salt, key lime zest, vanilla extract, and lime extract. Mix and transfer to the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Once finished, remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Put a plate or serving dish on the top of the bundt cake pan and flip the cake onto the serving plate to cool completely.
- In the meantime, make the key lime glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, key lime juice, lime extract and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add more lime juice if necessary to reach your desired consistency.
- Drizzle the glaze over the pound cake and let it set up before slicing to serve with a dollop of whipped cream, fresh raspberries or a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!
More of the Best Cake Recipes to Try
- Chocolate Pound Cake
- Lemon Pound Cake
- Carrot Cake
- Funfetti Bundt Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Cake
- Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- Old-Fashioned Pineapple Cake
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This tender and moist Key Lime Pound Cake recipe is topped with a simple key lime glaze. It's easy to make and perfect for any warm weather occasion.
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