Celebrate summer with this sweet and tangy Cherry Limeade Cake, inspired by the iconic fizzy beverage from Sonic Drive-In. I recommend using bottled key lime juice in this recipe because it shortcuts to work of squeezing lots of tiny limes. This recipe also calls for 'cherry juice'. By this I mean the juice from the jar of maraschino cherries. The soaking syrup in this recipe can be variable. Use all of the syrup on the cakes for a wet crumb, or lightly brush for a little moisture. The picture shows the texture when using the entire amount of syrup.
A few drops of lime green soft gel food colorsuch as Chefmaster Neon Brite Green
1/4cupkey lime juice
Lime buttercream and decors
2 1/2cupsunsalted butterroom temperature
6tablespoonskey lime juice
Milk or cream to thin
1/2teaspoonfine grain salt
A few drops of soft red gel food colorsuch a Chefmaster Super Red
8maraschino cherries with stems
8fresh lime wheels
Cherry chip layers and cherry syrup
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three round 8-inch pans with flour-based baking spray.
In a large glass measure, whisk together the milk, egg whites, cherry juice, and almond extract.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Set the mixer to medium speed and alternately add the flour mixture and liquid mixture; begin and end with the flour. Scrape down the bowl. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add a small drop of red gel food color; mix. Fold in the chopped cherries.
Evenly divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pans 5 minutes before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the cherry syrup, heat the sugar and water in a microwave-safe glass measure for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cherry juice and almond extract; stir. Baste the cake layers on all sides using a pastry brush. Use all of the liquid for wet crumb, or use about half of the syrup for a drier crumb.
Lime cake layers and lime syrup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat two round 8-inch pans with flour-based baking spray.
In a large glass measure, combine the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and lime juice. Whisk together until combined.
In the bowl of an electric mixer add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lime zest. Whisk to combine.
Turn the mixer to medium speed and add butter a little at a time. Increase to medium speed until the butter has coated the flour and the appearance resembles coarse wet sand.
Slowly add half of the wet ingredients until a thick batter is achieved. Mix for 1 minute and scrape down the bowl. Add 1-2 drops of lime gel food color; mix. Add remaining wet ingredients and beat until incorporated. Divide batter between the two pans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the lime syrup, heat the sugar and water in a microwave-safe glass measure for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lime juice; stir. Baste the cake layers on all sides using a pastry brush. Use all of the liquid for wet crumb, or use about half of the syrup for a drier crumb.
Buttercream and assembly
Cream the butter in the bowl of a large standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and mix on low. Dribble in the lime juice a tablespoon at a time. Increase mixer speed. Add milk or cream a little at a time to bring to spreading consistency. Beat in the salt. Whip on high speed for 3-5 minutes, until lightened and fluffy.
Remove 1 1/2 cups of frosting to piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Cover the tip with a damp paper towel so the frosting doesn’t dry out.
Begin with a cherry chip layer placed on a serving plate of cake board. Do this carefully if you used all of the soaking syrup as the wet cake layers will be delicate. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top. Repeat process alternating lime and cherry cake layers. (Order: cherry, lime, cherry, lime, cherry.) Coat the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream (crumb coat). Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.
Tint the remaining frosting with 1 small drop of red gel food color. Mix well. Increase color intensity if desired with more food color (aim for a medium pinky-red color). Cover the chilled cake with the tinted buttercream and smooth evenly with a cake smoother or bench scraper. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.
Place a few dots of white frosting from the piping bag on the outside of the cake over the pink frosting. Use a cake smoother or bench scraper to lightly scrape the white frosting over the first layer of frosting. Don’t aim for a perfectly smooth surface, the outside edge should look like accumulated frost (small accumulated ice crystals).
Use the bag of white buttercream to pipe 8 mounds of frosting on the top edge of the cake. Top each mound with a maraschino cherry. Add a fresh lime wheel half between each mound. Sprinkle over the white sprinkles, if using.
Serve slices of cake at room temperature or chilled. Cakes with a wet crumb are especially good chilled and eaten on a hot day.
This cake is more enjoyable to make if you divide the work over two days. Bake the cake layers and refrigerate them. Also make the soaking syrups. The next day baste the cakes, make the buttercream then fill, frost and decorate the cake.Hand the soaked cake layers with care. They will be tender and will break apart if not handled gently.Food colors in the cake layers can be optional. If you choose to leave them out, the cherry layers will be mostly colorless with specks of red throughout. The lime layers will be creamy light yellow.