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Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd

Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd

Since starting this blog, the boyfriend and I have made a little tradition out of celebrating the anniversary of our first date with a Thai or Thai-inspired dessert.

The first year, he was quick to request khanom krok, and after a few trial runs, we had a pretty good version of these cute little coconut custard cups.  The second year, his request was for Thai fried bananas — the real kind, not the ones that are coated in thick batter and served with ice cream like you get at American Thai restaurants.  And again, after a bit of experimenting, the boyfriend declared my fried bananas the best he’s had outside of Thailand…

Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd

This year, my older brother had just sent me some fantastically fresh kaffir limes from his kaffir lime tree.  I started envisioning all of the wonderful Thai-inspired desserts I could make with these limes, from kaffir lime tarts and cheesecakes to macarons or even a layer cake…

When presented with these options, the boyfriend was quick to decide on the cake.  And, as with most of his requests, he was quite specific.  He wanted a fluffy, yet moist white cake, preferably three or four layers, with kaffir lime curd spread generously between each layer and a decadent kaffir lime buttercream topping the whole thing.

Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd

The kaffir lime curd was the easy part, since I already had a recipe I love from making mini kaffir lime tarts earlier this year.  The boyfriend then helped me to find a recipe for a fluffy white cake by browsing photos on blogs and recipe sites until he identified one that looked perfect — not too crumbly and not too dense.  For the buttercream frosting, I started with a simple recipe for lemon buttercream and adapted it until the kaffir lime flavor really shone through.

Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd

Once it was all assembled, we were pretty impressed with how this Thai-inspired cake turned out.  The cake itself was fluffy and moist, but the real star of the show was the kaffir lime.  Its bright, refreshing lime flavor and wonderfully unique aroma really just added a whole other dimension to the cake.  And even though it was only two layers, it was still a sweet way to celebrate our anniversary…

Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd


Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd

Makes 15-20 servings

Thai-Inspired White Cake with Kaffir Lime Curd


    White Cake: see original ingredients
    Kaffir Lime Curd:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of half of a kaffir lime
  • Kaffir Lime Buttercream:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons kaffir lime curd
  • juice from 1 small lime (regular variety)
  • zest of half of a kaffir lime


    To Make the Cake:
  1. Prepare your white cake by following this Cook's Illustrated White Layer Cake Recipe. The only alteration I made to this recipe was to omit the vanilla extract, as I was afraid that it might clash with the kaffir lime flavor.
  2. To Make the Kaffir Lime Curd:
  3. Combine sugar and kaffir lime zest in a food processor. Pulse until the zest is finely minced and completely incorporated into the sugar.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar plus zest mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix until they are incorporated. Then add the lime juice and water.
  5. Pour the whole mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it has thickened (approximately 10 minutes). Pour into a bowl and save in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  6. To Make the Kaffir Lime Buttercream:
  7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lime juice, kaffir lime zest, and 4 Tablespoons of the kaffir lime curd that you prepared earlier. Save in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  8. To Assemble the Cake:
  9. Once the cakes are cool, remove them from their pans. Scoop a generous layer of the kaffir lime curd on top of the first cake and spread around until smooth. Place the second cake layer on top and then frost both layers with the buttercream frosting. Use the back of a spoon to create swirls and garnish with thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves as shown above. Enjoy!

Original cake recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Kaffir lime curd adapted from Ina Garten's Lemon Curd recipe. Kaffir lime buttercream based loosely on this Lemon Buttercream Frosting.


10 comments… add one
  • Cynthia Bestall October 30, 2018, 12:03 am

    I live in Los Angeles now, my kaffir lime trees are going crazy this year! I freeze them as gifts for friends, the leaves and a lime or two, grating the zest gives amazing aroma, even frozen.

  • stuart October 24, 2015, 5:50 pm

    I am wondering, for the butter cream you say lime juice – then specify its from a regular lime. For the curd, you say lime juice, too, but dont specify. Is this Kaffir lime juice?

    • Rachel November 5, 2015, 3:38 am

      Hi Stuart, all of the lime juice should be from a regular lime. I’ll update the recipe to make it more clear. Thanks!

  • Kelly Stone April 30, 2015, 10:04 pm

    I love the look of this recipe. I am based in the UK and wonder where I can buy fresh Kaffir Limes. I cannot find any locally. Can I use dried Kaffir Lime leaves? Can I use lime zest as a substitute for Kaffir Lime Zest? Defeats the name of the cake but I am having an Asian Birthday Dinner Party on Saturday and want to use this cake as my centre piece. Many thanks.
    Kelly Stone

    • Rachel May 1, 2015, 2:50 am

      Hi Kelly, unfortunately I don’t think this cake would work well without fresh kaffir limes. The dried kaffir lime leaves just don’t have the same flavor as the fresh limes or leaves. Best of luck with your dinner party!

    • Cynthia Bestall October 30, 2018, 12:01 am

      When I lived in London I could always find kaffir lime leaves in the Thai markets. Frozen though, but they were fine. They had whole frozen limes as well for grating the rind. Ladbrook Grove has a couple of markets that carry them.

  • Nithya December 26, 2013, 9:26 pm

    Beautiful cake.. Perfectly baked..

  • Karo November 15, 2013, 12:41 am

    Looks totally amazing!!!!!
    Good on you!

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