Lime Pound Cake with Zesty Sugar Glaze

The rich, moist flavor of traditional vanilla pound cake gets a tropical kick from fresh lime and a zesty glaze.

8 persons
Cooks In
1 hour 30 minutes

For the cake:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup oat milk

For the glaze:

  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1-2 tsp oat milk
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving some excess hanging over the sides of the pan. That way, can pull the loaf out easily when it’s time for it to cool. Grease the parchment paper with cooking spray for easy removal once baked. 
  2. Melt the coconut oil. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oil with the sugar, vanilla extract, lime juice, and lime zest. Then whisk in the eggs until smooth. 
  3. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together into a separate bowl. Alternating with the milk, add the dry ingredients in 4 portions to the wet ingredient mixture, whisking to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be very thick.  
  4.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 40-43 minutes, poking with a toothpick to check for doneness. The cake will continue to bake a bit as it cools in its pan, so to avoid dryness, don’t leave it in the oven so long that the toothpick comes out perfectly clean. Remove it from the oven when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.   
  5. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then pull it out in one piece using the excess parchment paper ends. Carefully remove the cake from the paper and place it on a wire rack to cool completely before adding the glaze. 
  6. When the cake is cooled, prepare the glaze. Whisk together the lime juice, milk, and confectioner’s sugar until all lumps are gone and the mixture is slightly thicker than maple syrup. If it’s too thick, add milk by the tablespoon and whisk until you achieve the right texture. Too thin? Add more confectioner’s sugar. 
  7. Drizzle the glaze over the cake straight from the bowl, or use a ladle. Immediately zest the lime over the glaze before it hardens. Allow the glaze to solidify for 15 minutes before serving.

About This Recipe

The first time I visited a Parisian patisserie, I was blown away by the sheer beauty of what I saw before me: hundreds of pastries sitting row upon row inside their cases like so much priceless artwork. As I peered at the gleaming religieuses, impeccable millefeuilles, and creaseless creme caramels, I marveled at their identical perfection, which was made all the more incredible by their equally delightful flavors. Afterward, I sat in what I can only describe as a state of contented shock, at once delighted and sobered at the thought that it might take a two-year culinary degree and a neurosurgeon’s dexterity to recreate the gorgeous confections. Luckily, I came back down to Earth a few hours later and remembered that you don’t need expensive training or a particularly steady hand to produce beautiful, irresistible desserts. As we’ll see in this recipe for iced lime pound cake, sometimes all you need is a whisk and some patience.

Part of what makes French pastries so dazzling is their use of trompe-l’oeil; that is, the principle of combining textures and techniques to create the illusion that something is molten, dense, or nutritious when they are anything but, as seen in a mirror-glazed bombe, meringue, and these “candy apples”, respectively. I’m happy to report that you can incorporate these techniques into recipes at home. We’ll start with an easy one: the sugar glaze. 

What is it about the aesthetic of dripping liquid that’s so appealing? From pancake house commercials featuring endless, oozing gobs of maple syrup, to the one-of-a-kind red wax seal on your uncle’s favorite whiskey bottle, to the frenetic compositions of Jackson Pollock, there’s just something about a drip motif that we as a species can’t get enough of. Is it the suggestion of ‘runneth over’ abundance, the symmetry of a teardrop, the smooth surety of gravity’s downward tug on fondue fountain chocolate? Whatever the cause, one can’t deny the peculiar allure of a freshly glazed dessert. In honor of that principle, I present this recipe for iced lime pound cake. 

Aside from being remarkably tasty, pound cake is also a versatile introductory recipe for those new to baking. Pound cake requires few ingredients and has a mild vanilla flavor that lends itself well to a variety of infusions. You’ve probably munched on at least one slice of lemon pound cake in your life, but lesser-known iterations are also worth a try, from fruit additions like banana and blueberry to more inventive variations like peppermint, spiced rum, or hazelnut. Pound cake derives its name from its historically simple recipe; back in the early 1700s, the original pound cake was developed as a handy, no-frills equation for a crowd-pleasing dessert big enough to divide between several families. Its easy-to-remember formula called for one pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs, which baked up into a four-pound behemoth to be sliced up and shared. 

Over time, bakers whittled the original recipe’s proportions to suit smaller loaf tins and bundt pans, and upgraded it with a confectioner’s sugar glaze. Today in the United States, pound cake is a staple of coffee shops and Southern comfort food menus, and even occasionally finds itself dressed up as a wedding centerpiece. You can spot a pound cake by its trademark icing, which is made thick and poured directly over top of the cake, so that it hardens into a pleasing drippy border down the sides. The effect is especially beautiful when accompanied by a dusting of citrus zest, sliced almonds, or poppy seeds.   

Perhaps thanks to its humble beginnings, pound cake continues to be a great introductory recipe for even the most amateur home bakers. You can use it as an opportunity for new kitchen helpers (young and old) to practice measuring ingredients, sifting flour, and cracking eggs. Due to the batter’s thickness, it’s not much of a spill hazard, and the substitutions found in this recipe make it dairy-free to accommodate sensitive bellies. This recipe also uses whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour, which retains wheat’s natural, healthy fiber and mineral content, while mimicking enriched flour’s texture and crumb. On top of that, it’s just plain fun to pour on the glaze. The only difficult part about making this pound cake is waiting for it to bake and cool! 

You can serve this lime pound cake with a scoop of homemade coconut sorbet, or layer some slices with fresh fruit and whipped cream.