Bright, tart and sweet, this Lime Poke Cake is the perfect simple cake. Easy to whip up, yet anything but common, this cake is great for entertaining or snacking.
I spoke in my last post about the power of simply taking the time to set up a table beside a window and use my tripod, and the effect that had on my photography. What I did not talk about was the incredibly helpful and empowering advice I have received from other food bloggers who have been willing to share their experiences on their sites. Two in particular stand out for me, and it is one of those especially I want to talk about in this post. The first is Michelle from Brown-Eyed Baker, who completely rocked my world back in 2009-2010 with a food photography post about white balance (it seems to have been taken down)–I had never even heard of white balance, and even as imperfectly as I was adjusting it the following few years, at least I began adjusting it, and that made a huge difference to my photos.
But it is a second blogger who has rocked my world more recently, Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. Most of the blogging world knows about Pinch of Yum, because Lindsay and her husband Bjork (the techy/money/site admin end of things) have made it their personal mission to be helpful to other bloggers. Not sure how bloggers make money and wondering what you could be doing to increase your revenue stream? Check out their traffic and income reports, complete with analysis of what has worked for them and what has not. How many bloggers do you know who are that upfront about those things? Second, they released (and it is worth every penny and this is not an affiliate link) Tasty Yum Photography. And if you buy this ebook, you get put on an email list notifying you of relevant photography posts, including the one that recently blew my mind on household items that will improve your food photography (actually there were 2 of these posts, both awesome, but it is this one that was life changing).
To explain why I need to back up–and if you are bored hey just skip down to the bottom, but if not this is some great advice. As I mentioned, I photograph by a window, or more accurately a set of sliding glass doors. Obviously this is a great source of light, but it all comes from one side. Now the professional thing to do would be to get fancy (and often pricy) photography equipment like reflectors and umbrellas and whatnot. But we have already established that I am lazy, slow to change, and, perhaps most important, I have a small table. By a window. Inbetween that window and a couch. So we are not talking about loads of space here.
All of the space to the right in that photo is taken up by couch and our family room. So the big reflector and umbrella stands are just not practical. And then Lindsay suggested a hand mirror. Just a simple hand mirror. Which I do not own…. but it got me thinking, and I ordered this DecoBros 6-inch Tabletop Two-sided Swivel Vanity Mirror with 10x Magnification, 11-inch Height. Guys I cannot believe how little light editing my pictures are needing! This cake is the first dish I tried it with, and it is really impressive! In that shot Alex is taking up above, the mini cakes all were darkly shadowed on the “couch” side of the photo. Whereas this Lime Poke Cake?
The left side of the cake above, on the “couch” side? I did not have to increase the light in the editing phase at all. What you see up there is pretty much how I took it (on that side, it still was tweaked in other, smaller ways).
Now the mirror gets hauled out every single time I take pictures. And bonus–it has a 10x magnification on the reverse side so I have promised Alex she can borrow it when she and her friends are doing makeovers! Score!
Anyway now about this cake. This cake is another “redux” that I decided to dust off to benefit from my better photography. However, in this case I did change it up, if only just a bit. From 2010, this cake was a
back-breaking knuckle-breaking Key Lime Cake–and I swore when I made it that next time I was using Persian limes (these are the basic everyday limes we use in America). That was the biggest change–and a good change in my opinion. I get that key limes are amazing, but they are tiny, it takes a lot of them to get enough juice, and honestly their effect is somewhat diluted with all of the flour and sugar. I say don’t bother.
The other change is purely semantic. I now recognize a poke cake when I see one, and this, my friends, is a poke cake. The warm cake is poked all over with tiny holes, and then the cake is brushed repeatedly with loads of lime simple syrup.
One quick note about the flour. Obviously you can use only all purpose flour for this cake. However, I recently bought an AP flour from Costco that I am 98.9% certain is a white whole wheat flour. I was frustrated to say the least! So I have been slowly mixing AP flour into it. So I used a flour blend, I am guessing close to 50/50 of AP flour and white whole wheat flour. If you prefer, try half of each kind of flour for a somewhat healthier cake (ha!) or just use all AP flour.
- 1 3/4 cups (238 g) AP flour mixed with 50% white whole wheat flour (fluffed, scooped, and leveled)
- 2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- the zest of 1 Persian lime
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 T fresh Persian lime juice
- 1/2 cup fresh Persian lime juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 F. Line the bottom of an 8X8X2 pan with parchment paper and grease all over. Set aside.
Whisk together the flours, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
Cream the butter with the lime zest in a mixer on medium speed. Gradually add half of the sugar and then add the oil. When that is well combined, gradually add the rest of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Throughout this process, be sure to scrape down the sides and bottoms of bowl as needed.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mix, turning the mixer speed down to low. Add half of the heavy cream, then flour again, then the remaining cream, and then finish with the remaining flour. Add the tablespoon of lime juice to the batter and beat for 2 minutes on medium low speed.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40 minutes–starting at the 20 minute mark, check your cake for browning. When it is browning, cover the pan loosely with foil. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, combine the 1/2 cup lime juice, pinch of sea salt and the 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then simmer, stirring, to dissolve the sugar. When done, set it aside, but when the cake comes out of the oven, heat the syrup back up.
Let the cake cool in its pan for 10 minutes and then remove it from the pan, removing the parchment paper from the bottom and flipping it back over to cool right side up. Place it on a cooling rack that has foil underneath it. Poke many small holes in the top of the cake with a skewer or toothpick. Brush the glaze over the cake–it will absorb and then you will brush again and again, until the syrup is used up. Be sure to also brush the edges and sides of the cake. If you want you can also use the syrup that drips down to the foil but I did not bother. Let the cake cool and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar before serving.