June 8, 2012

The Ultimate Key Lime Buttercream!

"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer,
the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months,
and with as yet no sign to remind one
that its fresh young beauty will ever fade."
~ Gertrude Jekyll, On Gardening

There is nothing like a tangy-sweet slice of a key lime cake or pie.! But if you are fresh out of key limes, do not make the mistake of trying to substitute regular lime for key lime in a recipe. Estelle's is preparing her masterpiece of birthday cakes,  which will feature key lime flavor in the buttercream frosting. I wondered if we could substitute regular limes as opposed to using key limes? Not recommended apparently! As much as key limes appear like tiny versions of their relatives, there are quite a few differences that can impact your recipe.Key lime juice is more aromatic and intense than that of the Persian lime.

Key limes pack a bigger punch of acidity in their small package. Key limes are valued for their "bouquet," or complex aroma, and are widely used around the world to garnish and flavor seafood dishes, add a tangy twist to beverages and impart a zesty quality to otherwise sweet desserts. You can use key limes in salad dressings, drinks, Mexican dishes like guacamole, Thai-inspired chicken dishes or even a ceviche -- raw fish "cooked" by the acid in the lime juice. If you have ever seen a key lime (Mexican or West Indian) next to a regular lime (Persian or Tahitian), the difference is obvious. While Persian limes tend to be just smaller than a tennis ball, diminutive key limes are more the size of a ping-pong ball -- about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Persian limes are also heftier than key limes, weighing in at around 3 oz., whereas key limes are a featherweight 1 oz. Good to know!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons Key lime zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Key lime juice
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with Key lime juice, 1 T. at a time, and 1 Tbsp. milk, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Beat in up to 1 T. additional milk for your desired consistency

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean paste and almond extract.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium-low speed just until blended after each addition. (Batter will be thick.) Divide batter between two 8 inch greased and floured cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes-30 minutes.

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