My first introduction to Key Lime Pie is thanks to my Muzzy (my mom, that's her nickname). Once we stopped for lunch on one of our "shopping days" *, and we ordered Key Lime Pie to share for dessert.
I had never had it before, but agreed that it was definitely the pie to order. And oh, my goodness. Creamy yet tart, tangy, and slightly sweet. I was hooked, and whether it's the good memories of eating it with my Muzzy or just plain the fabulous taste of the limes, I was hooked from that day forward. To this day, Key Lime Pie holds 1st Place in my heart as the best of the best of pies.
That being said, I've seen a ton of Key Lime desserts lately, all making me pine for that lovely pie. The Key Lime Angel Food Cake came to me because I had a ton of egg whites sitting in the freezer, waiting for the perfect recipe. I know I say this a lot in regard to recipes I post, but seriously: this is an easy cake. The lime really gives it a tangy and tart kick, just what I was looking for. And the curd, oh yes. It was tart tart tart, which was a great contrast to the light sweet cake.
AND: a few words on this wonderful holiday:
* I grew up in a large family, it's true. Always there were a million people around. But every once in a blue moon, when I was still a kid and living at home, my Muzzy would come in to my room in the morning (as if she was getting me up for school) and whisper "Let's have a shopping day, I'll call you in sick to school". It was the best day ever! I fondly remember those days. They didn't come around very often, and I'm sure she did this with all my siblings separately, but still. Loved those days. Thanks Muzzy. And thanks for the Key Lime obsession, too :)
I need to mention my mother today. It's that special day of the year, a day to remember, honor, and thank our lucky stars for our moms. Moms have a thankless job, really. My mother was a "housewife" but my goodness, she worked harder than any person I've ever known. It's not an easy task to keep an immaculate house and always a hot dinner on the table and juggle an entire household's schedules, let alone doing all of this while simultaneously raising eleven kids. Yet my mother – given all our random disasters and assorted moments of childhood naughtiness - still did it all with a sense of humor and warmth.
I can't tell you the number of things that remind me of my mother on a daily basis, little things she'd do especially just with me - and I know all my sisters and brothers have the same kind of unique memories too. She found the time to fit all this in, and still look like a million bucks (there has always been something inherently graceful about my mother). Hopefully I'm half the person she is when it's my time to have kids.
So Happy Mother's Day Muzzy: I love you bunches. Now have a slice of key lime goodness.
Key Lime Angel Food Cake
(Adapted from Alton Brown)
1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 c. warm water
3 Tbsp. lime zest
1/3 c. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Lime curd (adapted from Ina Garten):
9-10 key limes, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt and the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside. In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, lime zest, lime juice, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry). Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.
For the curd:
Remove the zest of limes with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the limes to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lime zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lime juice, vanilla, and salt. Mix until combined. Serve a good-sized dollop on the angel food cake.