OC Mag staff faves: That backyard lime tree—serendipity, or evidence of a Larger Plan?

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And so to the third recipe in our roundup of Orange Coast staff favorite desserts, a Very Special pound cake from Art Director Mindy Benham. Pound cakes, which, truly, might be the best cakes of all, have an almost modest air—not frosted, decorated confections, and often rectangularly sliced, cut from a loaf shape—the type of thing one might have as a snack for a nondescript nonoccasion. However, this is not that pound cake. From the use of a highly decorative Bundt pan to a glaze made with fresh lime juice (and lime zest in the batter), this is quite definitively a value-added pound cake. And, the fact that it seems to be part of Mindy’s personal destiny might put it right over the top.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Lime Glaze
 
I started making this pound cake while living in my home state of Wisconsin, where limes are almost exotic. When I moved to Costa Mesa, to a house with a backyard tree full of plump limes, my friends were sure it was meant to be. This is my signature cake, after all, the one requested for baptisms and birthdays and any other excuse for cake. I use this beautiful fleur de lys pan and the cake always comes out with a nice, crunchy outer layer: A big lesson I learned is that greasing and flouring such an intricate pan is not fun. If the dusting of flour reveals any missed spots, get back in there and grease them up! And definitely no shortcuts with sprays, no matter how much they promise to make life easier. The recipe calls for 90 minutes in the oven, but I start testing  at around 55 and find that, in my oven, it’s usually done in 60 to 65 minutes.  Also, the recipe calls for a 10-cup pan, exactly what mine is, but I always have enough batter to make 4 to 6 mini Bundt cakes on the side (you could do cupcakes).—Mindy Benham, Art Director
 

The cake:

3 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

The glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

For best results, all ingredients for this Bundt® cake should be at room temperature (about 70 degrees); none should feel cool to the touch. This can take about 2 hours for refrigerated ingredients. To hasten the process, soften butter and cream cheese separately in microwave at 10-second intervals, and place eggs in a bowl of warm water.

Position a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a rose cake pan or 10-cup Bundt® pan; tap out excess flour.
To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium-high and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla and lime juice.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of  bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in lime zest.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading batter so sides are higher than center. Bake until cake is golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cake cool upright in pan for 15 minutes.

The glaze: In small bowl, whisk together lime juice and granulated sugar until blended.
Set rack over a sheet of waxed paper, invert pan onto rack and lift off pan. Using a pastry brush, brush warm cake with glaze. Let cake cool completely before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Adapted from “Sweet Miniatures,” by Flo Braker (Chronicle Books, 2000).

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