I love tequila. A lot. A lot a lot. So when my sweet friend Tabitha asked for a key lime birthday cake with tequila frosting, I was a very happy baker. For one, it meant that I would *have* to buy a bottle of tequila, which means margaritas on demand, and for two, it was a new kind of cake for me to make … but, honestly, we all know which reason was more exciting:
Key lime cake conjured up images of bright green fake cakes, which were confirmed by an exhaustive Google search that seemingly only turned up cake-mix-and-green-jello ingredient lists. I was determined not to use anything fake, because fake is gross. Besides, jello is made of gelatin. Do you know what gelatin is made of? (Gelatin is a protein produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, pigs, and horses …)
GROSS. So my search for a jello-free key lime cake eventually led me to the now-defunct Gourmet magazine’s recipe catalog and this winner: KEY LIME COCONUT CAKE.
Subtract the coconut, and we were ready to roll. But when I found myself short on eggs and waiting for my awesome husband to come home with more, I decided to make a lime curd filling … because of course, this cake needed something to kick it up a notch … and because I could put tequila in it.
So the curd recipe was adapted (read: tequila added to) this one from Martha Stewart. 1 egg+1/4 cup sugar+1 tbsp lime zest+1/8 cup lime juice+2 tbsp butter+ TEQUILA!
Stir it up over medium heat … it gets all foamy:
Strain it into a cup and cool in the refrigerator overnight:
Then Price came home with the eggs (hooray for husbands!) and I could make the actual cake.
Butter+Sugar+Lime Zest in the stand mixer (it turned such a fun shade of green!):
4 eggs (one at a time) into the butter/sugar/lime mixture (which I may or may not have taken a bite of … heavenly):
2 1/2 cups Cake flour+ 4 tsps baking powder+salt whisked together in one bowl, then 1 1/3 cups milk+ 1/2 cup key lime juice in another:
Add alternately (ending with the flour … can someone tell me why that’s important?), and voila! Key lime cake ready to go in the oven for 45 minutes:
Day 2 proved a bit disastrous. And by a “bit,” I mean excessively so. It’s REALLY HOT in Tennessee right now. I mean, REALLY HOT. And really hot weather + humidity + curd filling + frosting (with TEQUILA) is a recipe that may turn out to taste delicious, but should probably include a warning for excessive frustration, tears, a little swearing, and lots of unnecessary husband-blaming.
It started out poorly. I ran out of powdered sugar, rendering the initial attempt at tequila lime frosting too lumpy and soft:
The recipe came from The Cupcake Project, but was tripled for this particular occasion. All you really need to know is buttercream + tequila + lime juice = A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I could have eaten a whole bowl of the stuff. I mean, I really love buttercream. And I REALLY love tequila. So this was pretty much the best frosting ever.
That may be where my joy ended though. Amazing husband returned with more powdered sugar (isn’t he great?) and the icing became delightfully stiff the way it ought to be. But the layers (which were assembled while I waited) started to leak. A lot of leaking. Leaking of lime curd that made my heart break … not just once, but twice during this cursed cake experience.
Into the freezer it went for several minutes and became cold enough to basketweave. I had such a pretty design in my head, but basketweaving seemed more efficient at adding enough icing-bulk to keep in any wayward filling. (Or so I thought.)
So cute! I do love a basketweave. Finally, the finished cake:
If only the story ended here. But the car ride over to Tabitha’s involved the aforementioned excessive humidity and an unfortunately sharp turn that caused the top 2 layers to slide off the bottom later, key lime curd to ooze out of every possible place, leaving gobs of icing and curd on the cake carrier and a very, very, very sad Melanie.
After a few hours of refrigeration at the party, the cake was put back together and only the bottom basketweave was destroyed, so it turned out MUCH better than it could have. And at least I have pictures of how it should have been.
I guess there’s a moral of this story … something along the lines of make sure you drink lots of tequila when making a cake with tequila to cut the pain of watching it collapse in the heat.
I settled for a large glass of white wine and a piece of the still-delicious cake. Yummy.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TABITHA!