Exquisite, exotic, enhancing — a splash of lime juice and sprinkle of lime zest adds a fresh dimension, lovely scent and piquant flavour to all kinds of food and drinks. Peter and I adore limes and always seem to have at least half a dozen on our fruit platter. One of my favourite treats is a double layered lime slice. Rather than being a flamboyant Carmen Miranda of cakes, it's more an exquisite little Audrey Hepburn.
It's simple to prepare and I think most of you will happily add it to your repertoire, especially once you've tasted it.
My recipe is adapted from Margaret Fulton's Delicate Lime Squares, which my mother and I cut out from the 8 May 1993 edition of New Idea magazine. Mum always bought a few women's magazines every week and one of our favourite past-times was to sit and trawl through them together, chatting about food, cooking and recipes, and saving the pages of those dishes that we wanted to cook. How I miss those delicious afternoons in her company.
While the original receipt calls for plain flour, I've given you the option of using gluten free flour, which works perfectly well and is particularly for those who who need to stay off gluten for health reasons. On that subject, in the New Idea article, Ms Fulton notes the health benefits of limes, citing that British sailors were called 'limeys' because they carried limes on their ships as part of their rations to prevent scurvy. Rum was added to preserve the lime juice! And here's another interesting snippet: did you know that limes are green because they are picked unripe? Limes will turn yellow if left to ripen naturally on the tree.
3/4 cup plain flour or gluten free plain flour, sifted
60g unsalted cultured butter, softened
1/4 cup sifted icing sugar
3 free-range eggs
1/2 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons extra plain flour or gluten free flour
juice and finely chopped zest of two limes
extra sifted icing sugar, to serve
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 20cm square cake pan with baking paper. Rub the butter into the flour (and baking powder) using a pastry blender (or your fingers). The mixture will resemble bread crumbs when ready. Add the icing sugar, mix well. Pat the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and allow to cool briefly.
Using a zester, slice thin strips of zest from the skin of the limes, then chop the zest strips very finely with a sharp knife. Juice the limes and set aside.
While the base is baking, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until thick and pale, and the mixture has increased in volume, this will take 5-8 minutes. Stir in the additional two tablespoons of flour and then gently blend in the lime juice and zest. Pour this mixture over the cooled, cooked base and return to the oven for a further 18-20 minutes. Bake until golden and set. When ready to serve, sprinkle with icing sugar and cut into squares.
Hints: When juicing any citrus fruits, microwave the fruit for 30 seconds on high beforehand and you'll squeeze double the amount of juice. The juice of lemons and limes can be successfully frozen in ice cube trays and the grated zest also freezes well.
The process in pictures...
I originally published this recipe on Good Things in 2012, but it's so deliciously good I'd really like to share it again.
Tell me dear readers, do you enjoy the flavour of limes as much as Peter and I do? Do you grown limes? What's your favourite way of using them?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.