Lime Basil Pound Cake

September 2010

Once when I was visiting my older sister in Omaha, Nebraska, I made my way to the brand new Whole Foods.  Built from the ground up, this Whole Foods was the Manhattan version of the average mall’s FAO Schwartz- every toy imaginable!  In this case, the toys were a wine section, a coffee and wine bar, fanciful chocolates, cheese overload, a large bakery and a sorbet bar!  Usually sorbet is not my top dessert choice.  My eyes are usually distracted by chocolate, but when the kind folks at the Omaha Whole Foods were giving out free sorbet samples, my eyes were drawn to the bright colors and interesting flavors.

Lime basil sorbet?  It didn’t sound appealing, but it was such an odd combination, I asked for the little sample size.  WOW!  The flavors burst in my mouth!  What had I been thinking?!?  Lime basil was the perfect combination!  So refreshing!  I found myself ordering a layer of lime basil to complement the mango and raspberry flavors I had already sampled and selected.  I sat in the sun enjoying the revelation of the amazing marriage of flavor.

I left the lime basil flavor combination swirling in my head for years before finally incorporating them into a dessert idea of my own- a lime basil pound cake.  Far heavier than sorbet, but the flavor pairing still rendered a refreshing dessert.

Pound Cake Ingredients

16 Tablespoons local Amish butter, cut into chunks
3 large local, free-range eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cups pure cane sugar
¾ cups local wildflower honey
1 bunch local basil, chopped
2 limes- zest and juice

For the Pound Cake

Place the butter chunks in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for 20-30 minutes to soften slightly.

Using a fork, beat the egg yolks and vanilla in a separate bowl until well combined.  Let the egg mixture stand at room temperature until ready to use.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch [stone] loaf pan.

Beat the butter and salt at medium-high speed until shiny, smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Reduce the speed to medium.  With the mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar for about 35 seconds.

Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is fluffier, about 5 minutes.  Add the honey and continue to beat for 3-5 minutes, until well combined.

Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Scrape the bottom and sides.

Add the flour to the butter-egg mixture in 3 increments, folding gently with a spatula after each addition.

Add the zest and juice of two limes and the chopped basil.  Stir to incorporate.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown and a cake skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 70-80 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Invert the cake on the wire rack and then turn the cake right side up.

Cool the cake on the wire rack to room temperature, about two hours.

Buttercream Ingredients

1 package cream cheese at room temperature
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 lime- juice and zest
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Maple syrup to taste

For the Buttercream

Combine all ingredients except the maple syrup and beat on medium-high until well combined and fluffy.

Add the maple syrup to desired sweetness.

Spread generously on cooled cake.

Apply a second layer to smooth over the crumb layer.

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