Something sweet for the weekend : kaffir lime syrup cake

(Kaffir lime syrup cake)

In case you were wondering how or why I have been able to post more frequently this week, it’s because I have been on holiday. It’s only a week off from work so I didn’t make any plans to do much other than get reacquainted with my home kitchen and catch up with family and friends.

In a happy confluence of events, one of the friends I met up with this week generously offered me some kaffir limes and leaves. Being a rather dismal balcony gardener, I’m always thrilled (and frankly, in awe) when people offer me things they have successfully grown. Kaffir lime leaves are one of my favourite things to cook with. I usually throw the leaves, either shredded or left whole, into as many curries as I can muster for dinner. The limes, however, tend to leave me a little stumped.

At a place I once worked, our vegetable supplier gifted us with a large box of kaffir limes. Not knowing quite what to do with them, someone suggested a kaffir lime sorbet. After zesting and juicing every single lime in the box, I stirred in an appropriate volume of sugar syrup, tasted it and very quickly found out how unpleasant and bitter kaffir lime juice could be.

Naturally, the thing you next do when stuck with an unpalatable concoction is to deliberately leave it unattended on a counter top, to catch out some serial tasters. More than one inquisitive person fell victim to the lure of the bowl, dipping their finger in, hoping for something sweet, but discovering the complete opposite instead. Yes, it was an amusing day for everyone. Well, mostly me.

If you’re lucky enough to be at the receiving end of some fresh kaffir limes and leaves, make this lime syrup cake. But be warned, leave it unattended on a counter top at your own risk.

Kaffir lime syrup cake :
(based on a recipe from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery)

50g plain flour
200g almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
170g sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 4 kaffir limes

Preheat the oven to 160’C. Butter and line a 20cm square cake tin.

Combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a food processor, add the eggs and sugar and process for about 1 minute. Add the butter and process again to combine, then add the vanilla extract and lime zest, followed by the flour mixture. Pulse until the batter is just combined, stopping every now and then to scrape down the sides with a spatula.

Tip the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing it out evenly. Bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the tin before gently brushing the warm prepared syrup over the cake. You will only need 1/3 of the syrup made. The rest can be served alongside slices of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.

[Note: Remove the zest from the limes with a very fine grater like a Microplane, to avoid zesting any of the extra bitter white pith. If you don’t have kaffir limes, substitute with normal limes or lemon]

To make the syrup :

120g sugar
125g lime juice
250g water
kaffir lime leaves (as much or as little as you want, depending on how strong you wish the flavour to be. I used about 20 small leaves, branch and all)

Put the sugar, lime juice, lime leaves and water into a pot. Bring to boil, stirring. Once boiled, turn the heat down to a simmer and allow to reduce for 10 minutes or until it looks more syrupy.

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  1. Laura said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 2:04 am

    I have been thinking of buying a tree but I am not sure I will use the fruit enough to justify taking the precious and limited garden space. As much as I like curry dishes I haven’t had the courage to try any.

    I am enjoying your more frequent posts, and have a great relaxing time.

  2. Rosa said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 5:21 am

    The addition of kaffir lime leaves is just awesome! What a lovely choice of flavor.



  3. snooky doodle said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 6:47 am

    this cake looks delicious. I m curious about the taste. Must be awesome

  4. leaf (the indolent cook) said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 11:04 am

    I would love to use kaffir lime more often. Though, just to clarify, you didn’t end up using the juice, did you?

  5. Emma said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    I love any varietal of lemon or lime or orange that comes along with a prefix that carries weight and significance. Meyer lemons, Kaffir limes, etc.

    I’ve never baked or cooked with Kaffir limes, but I’ve often given them a wistful glance while at the grocery store – but mostly because they’re in the ‘special’ produce section. The section that carries weight and significance.

    I’m loving all the posts too. Time off is always a wonderful thing:)

  6. shaz said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    I love the smell of kaffir lime, it’s the first plant I was given for my balcony almost ten years ago. And though I use the leaves often, I’ve never used the fruit , although the kids pick them and use them as ammo. If you ever do find out what to do with kaffir lime juice, I’d like to know. Apart from setting traps that is. (I’d have done the same and would have been amused no end!).

  7. Monica said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    So lovely… I must try this as I’ve become a little bored of the usual orange/almond combo. I can get hold of kaffir lime leaves fairly easily these days so I have no excuse!

  8. the caked crusader said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 2:27 am

    You had me at “lime syrup”. I’ve never tried kaffir lime – is it very different to ordinary lime flavour?

  9. Hannah said,

    October 4, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

    Do you know what the embarrassing thing is? I’m totally the person who would try the sorbet, pull a face, walk away… and then half an hour come back to do the same again, “just to make sure”.

    ‘Course, with the cake, I’d never even leave its side.

  10. OohLookBel said,

    October 5, 2011 @ 11:12 am

    I’ve never really known what to do with kaffir lime leaves, but cake syrup sounds wonderful.

  11. Arwen from Hoglet K said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

    I love your method of finding out who the sneak tasters are! The cake looks gorgeous. I hope you’re having a good holiday.

  12. Su-yin said,

    October 7, 2011 @ 12:45 am

    I haven’t been this excited about a cake in a while – I adore Kaffir limes, can’t find them easily here but I’m still gonna try making these with regular limes.

  13. InTolerantChef said,

    October 7, 2011 @ 8:56 am

    I love syrup cakes! I have a little kaffir lime tree growing but it hasn’t fruited yet- maybe that’s a good thig 🙂

  14. InTolerantChef said,

    October 7, 2011 @ 8:58 am

    I love syrup cakes! I have a kaffir tree growing but it hasn’t fruited yet- maybe that’s a good thing 🙂

  15. cathy x. said,

    October 7, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

    hahahaha! do you remember when we mashed up something horrible, rolled it around to look like truffles and left them on the pass for unsuspecting waiters? ahhhh such fond memories 😛

  16. kristina@beancakes ? said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 6:34 am

    how deliciously different and exotic does this sound? i love your cute photo!! and some sweet syrup to top it off sounds perfect!!
    xx ~ ks

  17. Tina @ bitemeshowme said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 9:26 am

    The cake look so moist…. I really could do with some of that for morning tea right now….

  18. Hannah said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 1:41 am

    Aw, I’m sad to hear that this flurry of posts won’t last, but I’m still happy to see your gorgeous desserts again! Such inspiring flavor combinations, and I truly love your photos… They’re always so bright and clean.

  19. justachef said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

    That cake looks fabulous, I must try that recipe. Fabulous photos too!

  20. Tori (@eat-tori) said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

    Ooh. Been scratching around for something for an Asian inspired trifle. Maybe this would work…? Nb, gorgeous, as always.

  21. kapiticook said,

    October 22, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    My kaffir lime tree produced hundreds of fruit recently, so I dried and ground the zest of a dozen or so into powder which I am about to try in your recipe! I think that the zest (dried or fresh) would be superb in shortbread too. Many thanks.

  22. cityhippyfarmgirl said,

    November 1, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

    I’ve never thought of using kaffir lime for something sweet- lovely! I adore the flavour of it.

  23. alexandra robertson said,

    January 6, 2015 @ 6:04 am

    so you brush the cake when it is completely cool with warmed syrup? and then to store the cake should it be kept at room temp or refrigerated?Thanks!

  24. Y said,

    January 6, 2015 @ 9:51 am

    Hi Alexandra! Yes, cool the cake then brush with warm syrup. Storing the cake at room temp is fine x

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