A great change from other key lime treats, a good key lime torte recipe can bring dessert to a whole new level.
Tortes Versus Tarts
Torte and tart sound very similar but they are as different as can be. The basic difference between a torte and a tart is that a tart is much more like a pie and a torte is a cake. Tarts will have a base crust made of pâte sucrée and will sometimes have a lattice crust on top.
You are probably more acquainted with tortes than you realize. What Europeans call a torte we call a layer cake. The European version of the cake used to make a torte might include ground nuts like the almond meal that is used in the Joconde, which in turn is used to make L'Opera cakes.
We will be using a sponge cake recipe. The reason we will be starting with such a plain cake is that we can then add some key lime juice to the batter and give the cake an overall key lime flavor. We are going to be completing our key lime torte recipe with a lime curd. If you like, you can fold some whipped cream into the curd and make a mousse for your filling.
Key Lime Torte Recipe
We will break this key lime torte recipe into three basic components: the cake, the filling, and the icing. Although most people would think that the cake would be the first thing to make, and they would be correct, in this case we will start with the filling because the curd needs to rest at least 2 hours, but overnight would be best.
The Curd Recipe
- 3 large eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 7 ounces sugar
- The zest of two limes chopped fine
- 2/3 of a cup of key lime juice (if you can get key limes and juice them yourself, all the better)
- 2 ounces butter
- In a heat proof bowl, mix together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and zest.
- Gently whisk until combined. Add the lime juice.
- Place the bowl over a Bain Marie with a very low flame and stir with a rubber spatula.
- Cook the curd by gently stirring it with the spatula until you get a five second hold. This means that when you scoop the curd up with the spatula and let some gently fall back into the bowl, it lays on top of itself for about five seconds before it reincorporates (You will notice that I use the word "gently" often here...you do not want to aerate the curd at all or it will not set properly).
- Once the curd is properly cooked, add the butter.
- Strain the curd into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Make sure the plastic wrap is touching the curd or it will develop a rubbery skin.
- Let the curd rest in your refrigerator for at least two hours.
The Cake Recipe
- 6 large eggs
- 6 ounces sugar
- 6 ounces cake flour
- 2-3 tablespoons key lime juice
- Using a Bain Marie, mix the eggs and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the sugar and egg mixture into a stand mixer and whip to full volume (about doubled in size).
- Add the lime juice.
- Fold in the sifted cake flour.
- Pour into a 10-inch cake pan that has been prepared by spraying it with non-stick spray, lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and them spraying the pan again.
- For a taller cake, you can make two 8-inch cakes.
- Pour the batter about halfway up the pan.
- You may have extra batter. You can use it for cupcakes.
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when pressed lightly with a finger.
- Let the cake cool and then turn it out onto a rack. Once the cake is completely cooled, you may want to let it rest in your refrigerator for a while. Slice the cake lengthwise so you have two halves.
Any frosting that you like will work with this recipe. I like to double the curd recipe and then make a mousse out of the curd by folding one cup of cream whipped to stiff peaks into a cup of the lime curd. You could use any icing recipe and add lime juice or lime flavoring to it if you like. A quick frosting for this key lime torte recipe would be to take:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1-2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Whip the cream and sugar to medium peaks.
- Add the lime juice.
- Whip for a about a minute more to incorporate the juice into the cream.
- Use this to frost your torte.
- Place one half of the cake on a flat surface. If you have a cake board, use that. Otherwise, a clean cutting board will work fine.
- Add a layer of lime curd about a half inch thick in an even layer over the cake.
- Place the second layer of the cake on top of the curd.
- Frost the cake using your key lime frosting.
- If you notice that there are a lot of crumbs in the frosting, don't panic. This happens sometimes. Just finish frosting the cake and then let the frosting chill for a while by putting both the cake and the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator for a bit. Once they are cooled, you can put another layer of the frosting on the cake.