Key Lime Loaf Cake

This cake has a story. So, although I am dying to jump right in with flowery descriptions of just how fab it tastes and how easy-peasy it is to assemble, bake and glaze, I think a little info as to how it came to be is in order. What follows is essentially how I ended up developing a key lime cake and I’m still tickled pink (lime-green? Sorry . . .) by it all. So please sit back (ie: stop scrolling) and listen up – it’s a fun one. (and I promise: I’ll be brief).

I published a recipe for lemon snacking cake, to no one’s surprise, I’m sure, as I love snacking cakes and frequently turn to lemon to flavor my treats in the winter. I posted a pic and a link to the recipe on Instagram (as one is won’t to do) and included my location: Red Hook, Brooklyn. Well, my neighbor, the famous Steve of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie, happens to pay attention when folks tag Red Hook, and he reached out to me. He dug the lemon snacking cake, he explained, and wanted to know if I’d like to try a lime version.

Well, long story short, he invited me to his key lime pie making factory, gave me a quart of freshly squeezed key lime juice, a paper bag full of key limes and proceeded to teach me everything I’ve ever wanted to know about key limes. Then he sent me on my merry way. I went home, created a key lime tea cake and am feeling awfully pleased, just sayin’.

The cake (as alluded to above) is super simple to assemble. Yes, it’s true, the prep was particularly easy for me, as the lovely Steve (and his equally lovely wife, Victoria) gave me freshly squeezed juice with which to work. But squeezing your own is not so painful. However, if you just cannot bear the thought of squeezing the tiny (but, oh so delicious – floral, juicy and otherworldly, frankly) key limes, by all means use Persian ones. I promise I won’t tell Steve . . . The recipe is practically one-bowl and the cake bakes in about 45 minutes. I love to finish the cake with a lime and confectioners’ sugar glaze because it’s tart and sweet and pretty. But you can leave it out of you wish.

Two final cake tips: the cake sinks just slightly when you pull it from the oven – do not be alarmed – and I give you the option of including lime zest in the cake – but again if you do not want to zest key limes (or even Persian ones) by all means leave it out.

Okay, story time is over. Now Please go make cake.

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Key Lime Loaf Cake

Recipe Author Jessie Sheehan


For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp key (or Persian) lime-zest optional
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 6 tbsp freshly squeezed key (or Persian) lime juice
  • 6 tbsp buttermilk

For the Key Lime Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar sifted if lumpy
  • 1 2/3 tbsp freshly squeezed key (or Persian) lime juice


  • Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or softened butter. Line it with a strip of parchment paper that covers the pan's bottom and goes up the two shortest sides.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and the zest, if using, and with your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and oil and whisk to blend. Add the egg and yolk, one at a time, whisking after each. 
  • Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, and using a flexible spatula, very gently fold the dry into the wet.
  • Add the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the dry, the juice, and then the final third of the dry, gently folding to incorporate after each addition. 
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. The cake will sink slightly when you remove it from the oven. 
  • Set the loaf pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool until you are able to touch the pan with your bare hands. While the cake cools, make the glaze. 
  • Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small  bowl along with the lime juice and whisk vigorously until smooth. 
  • Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely. Pour the glaze over the cake and let rest until the glaze is set.
  • The cake is super moist and will keep tightly covered at room temp for 3 to 5 days. This cake is one of those that tastes even better on day two, if it indeed lasts that long . . . 

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