As things are starting to heat up here in Texas, I figured it was time to share this delicious summer dessert. My Key Lime Poke Cake recipe is the perfect dessert to get in the summer state of mind.
This recipe consists of fluffy yellow cake, filled with pockets of freshly made key lime curd, topped with whipped key lime cream, and finished off with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon graham cracker crumble.
Key Lime Poke Cake Recipe Walkthrough
I’ll walk you through how to make this Key Lime Poke Cake in the blog post down below. You’ll find some helpful tips, links to other recipes, and mini recipe instructions.
For a more detailed and thorough walkthrough, you will want to scroll down to the recipe card down at the bottom of the post. There you will find ingredient measurements, cook time, and everything else you will need to complete this recipe.
Making the Cake
The first step for getting started on this Key Lime Poke Cake recipe, is to make a your cake. I found inspiration for this classic yellow cake recipe from BraveTart’s Iconic American Dessert Cookbook. It’s light and fluffy, not too sweet, and the perfect base for this summer dessert.
I first used this cake recipe in my Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake recipe. I just knew it would be perfect for this recipe too! To make this cake you’ll cream butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, before adding the vanilla.
Lastly you will alternatively add the flour mixture and milk, until a thick and fluffy batter begins to form. Be sure not to over mix the batter, if you can. You might even finish mixing the batter by hand to ensure that you do not over mix it.
Making the Key Lime Curd
I have used lemon and lime curd in several other recipes, but I always used pre-made curd. After having some difficulty in finding pre-made key lime curd in my local grocery store, I knew I had to try my hand at making it myself.
I found this recipe from Sugar and Soul blog and made a few changes. The result is a deliciously tart and smooth key lime curd that is the real star of this Key Lime Poke Cake.
To make this key lime curd, you need a small sauce pan, whisk, and wooden spoon (or a heat proof rubber spatula). You’ll start by whisking together the eggs and sugar. Followed by the key lime juice, zest, and salt.
Cook the mixture over low to medium heat for 5 minutes until it is fully warm. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is melted and smooth. Stir until the curd until it is thick, creamy, and coats the back of the spoon.
You can strain the curd if you like, but we chose not to! We like to include the zest for more flavor 🙂
Making the Whipped Key Lime Topping
I made my first iteration of the recipe component in my Lemon Cream Tart recipe. I discovered that if you put citrus curd into whipped cream, you’d get a light, fluffy, and slightly tart topping that goes great with lots of things. So, I went on to include it in my Mini Whipped Key Lime recipe and now this Key Lime Poke Cake recipe!
The beauty of this mini recipe is how simple it is to make. For my other recipes, I used pre-made curd. However, in this one you’ll use key lime curd that you make yourself. It is worth the effort, I promise!
All you have to do is whisk some heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a stand mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Then add the key lime curd and whisk for another 3-5 minutes until it is fully incorporated.
Making the Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crumble
You can find my Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crumble included in a few of my other recipes, like my Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake recipe. So, I went ahead and made a whole recipe blog post for it. You can find that here.
However, if you don’t want to click over for the walkthrough I’ll give you a mini tutorial here too. All you have to do is crush some cinnamon graham crackers, add brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir everything together before pouring melted butter over the mixture.
Toss everything together until the butter evenly coats everything. Pour the mixture into a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. And BOOM! You have a tasty, crunchy, Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crumble.
And there you have it! This Key Lime Poke Cake is a little labor intensive, admittedly, but it is definitely worth all of the effort. There is nothing quite like a homemade dessert, with each element made from scratch. You’ll definitely taste the difference!
If you are looking to make more poke cakes, you will want to check out my other poke cake recipes. I have Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake recipe and a Chocolate Pudding Poke Cake recipe that you are sure to love.
Let me know that you think of this recipe down in the comments below! Want to see another flavor of poke cake? Let us know that in the comments too.
For the Key Lime Curd
- 6 Eggs
- 1 ½ C (288g) Sugar
- ½ C Key Lime Juice, about 10 limes
- 1 Tbsp Key Lime Zest, about 10 limes
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 stick (113g) Unsalted Butter
For the Cake
- 1 stick (113g) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 C (192g) Sugar
- 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
- 4 Egg Yolks, room temperature
- 2 ¼ tsp Vanilla
- ¾ C (6oz) Milk, room temperature
- 1 ¾ C (196g) Cake Flour, sifted
For the Whipped Key Lime Topping
- 1 C (240ml) Heavy Whipping Cream, cold
- 4 Tbsp (36g) Powdered Sugar
- ½ tsp Vanila
- 1 ½ C (360g) Key Lime Curd
For the Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crumble
- ½ sleeve (4 ½ crackers) Cinnamon Graham Crackers, crushed
- ½ stick (57g) Unsalted Butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp (24g) Light Brown Sugar
- ¼ tsp Vanilla
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
Making the Key Lime Curd
- In a small saucepan, whisk the eggs and sugar together until completely combined.
- Whisk in the key lime juice, key lime zest, and salt.
- Cook the mixture on low to medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is fully warm, about 5 minutes
- Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Continue cooking and continuously stirring until the mixture is thick, creamy and coats the back of the spoon, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove the curd from the heat. You can strain the curd, if you like, but we like to leave it as is in our house.
- Pour the key lime curd into a medium bowl, cover, and chill for about an hour.
Making the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prep a 9 x 9 baking pan by generously spraying with cooking spray.
- Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream the softened butter, sugar, baking soda, and salt together on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl halfway through mixing to prevent any lumps from forming.
- Reduce the mixer to slow speed and add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla.
- Alternatively the cake flour and milk by adding one third of the cake flour, followed by one third of the milk. Mix each addition until it is roughly incorporated before adding the next. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or it reaches 210ºF.
- Once the cake has cooled for about 5 minutes, poke holes evenly across the cake for the filling.
Making the Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crumble
- While the cake is baking, get started on the Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crumble by adding the crushed graham crackers, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix until all of the ingredients are evenly dispersed.
- Add the melted butter and vanilla and mix until all of the crumbs are evenly coated.
- Evenly pour the mixture on to a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper on the bottom.
- Once the cake is out of the oven, bake the crumble at 350ºF for 8 minutes, until the crumbs get crispy.
- Remove from the oven and allow the crumbs to cool before breaking up into small chunks and crumbs for the topping.
Making the Whipped Key Lime Cream
- Once the key lime curd has chilled for an hour, get started on your whipped key lime cream. In a stand mixer with the whip attachment, whip the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla together on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Add 1 ½ cups of the key lime curd to the whipped cream and continue mixing on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until soft peaks begin to form.
Assembling the Cake
- Pour the remaining key lime curd over the holes poked into the cake. Be sure to allow the curd to fill each hole before pouring over the next one.
- Spread the whipped key lime curd over the layer of curd.
- Generously sprinkle with cinnamon graham cracker crumble.
- Chill the cake in the fridge for an hour or so before cutting into it, to allow the topping time to set a little.
The whipped topping will be a little slack, but is intended to be that way.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 slices Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 31gCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 6g