This is such a delicious and moist Vanilla Cake with Lime! It's easy, but tastes so special and sweet with a subtle citrusy backdrop and amazing lime flavor!
This beautiful vanilla cake with flecks of green is a very traditional and common cake found in Brazil, called Bolo de Limão or Cake with Lime. It's made with fresh lime zest and lime juice and tastes amazing with a hint of lime. The cake itself is not tart at all, it's just a perfectly vanilla-lime flavor. And the texture is moist and dense for such satisfying bite.
The glaze on top adds a hint of tart but you can make it as tart or sweet as you want by adjusting the amount of lime juice. If you like key lime pie, you will LOVE this cake.
You can find this easy lime cake served here in Brazil primarily at breakfast buffets, afternoon coffee or tea times, and special occasions!
- Brazilian Origins of this recipe
- Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
- Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
- Tips for this Cake with Lime Recipe
- How to Make this Cake with Lime Recipe
- Make the Lime Glaze
- Variations on Cake with Lime
- Lime Cake Recipe FAQs
- More Delicious Brazilian-Inspired Cakes
- Cake with Lime ~ Bolo de Limão
Brazilian Origins of this recipe
Cakes and other heavy desserts are not typical in Brazil, at least not for dinner dessert. So, many of the cakes that are most popular feature fruit and can be part of a brunch or afternoon coffee. Bolo de Limão is one of these traditional cake recipes that we had never tried before moving here. It has become one of our favorite things! Limes are in abundance here, so you see them more often than lemon and this cake is a delicious example of how to use them. By the way, have you tried Brazilian Carrot Cake? It's amazing!
Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
- All purpose Flour, unbleached - Regular AP flour is fine, you do not need cake flour or anything special. I have not yet tested this recipe with Gluten Free flour options. However, when I do bake with Gluten Free Flour, I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour and add xanthan gum according to the GF flour package instructions for cakes.
- Salt - Kosher salt or table salt is fine.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda - Uses both baking powder and baking soda to help the cake rise. If you only have one of these, then sub the other with it.
- Unsalted Butter, softened - Butter is a key ingredient in this cake recipe for both texture and flavor. Yo0u can use salted butter.
- Sugar - Regular white granulated sugar is best for this recipe.
- Eggs, large - You can use white or brown eggs in this recipe. Because you will need to whip up the egg whites separately, you will not want to use bulk egg product.
- Vanilla extract - This brings such great vanilla flavor to complement the lime.
- Whole milk - You can substitute with 1% or Skim milk, as well as non-dairy milk.
- Fresh Limes - regular limes are perfect, you do not need key limes or key lime juice for this recipe. But of course, you can use key lime zest and juice, you just may need more of them as they are smaller.
- Lime Zest (from 3-4 Fresh limes) - The zest is what brings the beautiful lime flavor without the sour aftertaste.
- Lime Juice - fresh is best, but you could substitute a good quality store bought lime juice if needed.
Lime Glaze Ingredients
- Butter, salted - Many recipes for Brigadeiros call for unsalted butter. However, I am a big fan of little salt with my sweet, so I opt for salted. You can use either.
- Sweetened Condensed milk - The sweet condensed milk is the thick, sweet glaze base. It's also the base of brigadeiros. If you don't have this, you can substitute evaporated milk, but you will want to also add in sugar. Start with a teaspoon and add until you get to the desired sweetness.
- Fresh Lime - You will need primarily the zest, but also a bit of juice. The zest will give your glaze amazing lime flavor without the sourness.
See recipe card for quantities.
Simple Equipment You'll Need with Options
You will need 2 mixing bowls: 1 medium bowl for the dry ingredients. A second large mixing bowl for the wet ingredients, starting with creaming the butter and sugar.
Tips for this Cake with Lime Recipe
- TIP #1 - Zesting the lime should always be done prior to juicing it. It is very difficult to zest a wet of flimsy lime. I love using a microplane to zest the lime because it's effortless.
- Tip #2 - You may have extra zested limes. You should juice them and save the juice for another recipe or to make limeade!
- Tip #3 - If you store the zested lime in the refrigerator, make sure it's in an airtight container so it doesn't dry out. Then be just to use it within the next 4-5 days.
How to Make this Cake with Lime Recipe
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Measure all ingredients. Take butter out to soften. Zest and juice limes. Grease a 4-quart cake tube or bundt pan (see notes for other pan types and cooking times).
Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Mix in the vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest. Reduce mixer to low speed.
Alternate adding and mixing in the flour mixture and the milk… ⅓ of the flour, ½ milk, ⅓ flour, ½ milk, last ⅓ of the flour.
Mix in the flour.
Add half of the milk and mix in.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed to ensure that all of the flour is incorporated.
Tip: if you are adding the flour mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer, using parchment paper makes adding the flower so much easier.
Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
Baking time is 50 to 60 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, gently run a knife around the outside of the cake inside the pan and flip the cake out into your hands and gently place it right side up onto a serving platter e to continue cooling.
Make the Lime Glaze
In a saucepan, add the butter, sweetened condensed milk, and the lime juice and zest.
Over low heat, stir to combine as the butter melts and everything comes together.
Do not overheat, as the glaze can start to clump on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool. It can still be warm when poured over the cake, just not hot.
Pour the glaze on top of the cake and let it drip down the sides of the cake.
You can pour as much or as little as you like and save the rest to warm up later and let people pour over their slice.
Variations on Cake with Lime
Here are a couple other variations on this delicious recipe.
- Other Citrus - You can swap in any other citrus that you want! Lemon juice and zest, orange juice and zest, or tangerine would all be delicious.
- Add Ginger - add a teaspoon or two of ground ginger for a more warm and spicy flavor.
- Strawberry Lime - Add fresh sliced strawberries into the batter before baking.
Lime Cake Recipe FAQs
Fresh lime juice will have the best flavor, however, in a pinch, you can use bottled lime juice. Just be sure to use a high-quality, all-natural lime juice that doesn't contain any added preservatives or sweeteners.
Fresh lime zest is preferred for the best flavor, however, you can use lime extract if you don't have fresh lime zest on hand. Be sure to use it sparingly, as a little goes a long way. For the cake, I may only add ½ teaspoon. For the glaze, ¼ teaspoon to start and if it tastes like it needs more, then add more.
You can make this cake ahead of time. If you have already glazed it, then cover it and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you have not yet glazed it, once it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, bring the cake to room temperature, warm the glaze and pour it all over.
You can also freeze the cake for up to 3 months. Be sure to completely cool the cake first, then wrap it in an airtight container.
This Lime Cake recipe uses all-purpose flour, but you can use cake flour or pastry flour. Just keep in mind that the texture of the cake may be slightly different than if you used all-purpose flour.
More Delicious Brazilian-Inspired Cakes
Looking for other cakes and desserts like this Lime Cake? Check out this chocolate cake and more:
Cake with Lime ~ Bolo de Limão
- 3 cups All purpose Flour, unbleached
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
- 2 cups Granulated White sugar
- 4 Large eggs
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
- 1 cup Whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Lime Zest (from 3-4 Fresh limes)
- 1 tablespoon Lime Juice
- 14 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 tablespoons Butter, salted
- 2 teaspoons Lime zest (from 1 fresh lime)
- 1 teaspoon Lime Juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Measure all ingredients. Take butter out to soften. Zest and juice limes. Grease a 4-quart cake tube or bundt pan (see notes for other pan types and cooking times).
- Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in the vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest.
- Reduce mixer speed to low. Alternate adding and mixing in the flour and the milk... ⅓ of the flour, ½ milk, ⅓ flour, ½ milk, last ⅓ of the flour.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and spread evenly. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, gently run a knife around the outside of the cake inside the pan and flip the cake out into your hands and gently place it right side up onto a serving platter e to continue cooling.
- Make the Lime Glaze: In a saucepan, add the butter, sweetened condensed milk, and the lime juice and zest. Over low heat, stir to combine as the butter melts and everything comes together. Do not overheat, as the glaze can start to clump on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool. It can still be warm when poured over the cake, just not hot.
- Pour over the cake and let it drip down the sides. You can pour as much or as little as you like and save the rest to warm up later and let people pour over their slice.
- For a 4-quart rectangle cake pan - 40-50 minutes.
- For cupcakes - bake for 18-20 minutes