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Margarita Layer Cake

I’ve got a real treat for you this week! With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner I was inspired by one of the most popular cocktails here in Texas, the margarita! Of course my favorite margarita is in cake form. Bring something different to your Cinco de Mayo celebration this year like this Margarita Layer Cake!

Margarita Layer Cake

This homemade Margarita Layer Cake is flavored with freshly squeezed lime juice, lime zest and of course a little bit of tequila! To help bring out the lime flavor of the cake even more, I chose a homemade lime curd for the filling in this cake. Lastly, I topped the cake with an orange Swiss meringue buttercream flavored with Cointreau. All the flavors of your favorite margarita in cake form!

Lime Curd

My lime curd is super simple to make, and best of all it can be made up to a week in advance!

  • Combine eggs, sugar, salt, lime juice, and zest in a small saucepan.
  • Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove the curd from the heat and stir in the butter.
  • Strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl to remove the solids that may have formed while cooking.
  • Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss meringue buttercream is my ultimate favorite frosting. Why? Because it’s light and airy without being overly sweet. And it’s easy to incorporate different flavors to fit your cake flavor. For my Margarita Layer Cake I simply added Cointreau to the frosting for a hint of orange flavor.

Here are a few tips to making sure your Swiss meringue buttercream comes out perfectly every time!

  • Make sure your mixer bowl is super clean by wiping it down before using. There should be no grease of any kind or your egg whites may not whip up properly.
  • Your egg whites should be free of egg yolk. If even a little bit of egg yolk gets in your egg whites, your egg whites will not whip up properly.
  • Whisk the egg whites and sugar together well or the egg whites could start cooking on their own.
  • Be sure your butter is cut into tablespoon sized pieces and is at room temperature before using. If your butter is too cold, your buttercream could curdle or separate.
  • Your buttercream should be as smooth as possible before adding to your cake. Reduce your mixer speed to low during the last minute of mixing to remove as many air bubbles as possible.

Cake Assembly Tips

  • I’m a firm believer in “mise en place” which means “everything in place”. It’s important to have all your stars (components) in place. Be sure to have your first cake layer on a turntable or cake pedestal, your filling ready to go, your buttercream in a piping bag for piping your frosting dam, and your garnishes ready if using.
  • I use 1/2 cup of lime curd between each layer. That means I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to be as precise as possible and to make sure I don’t over fill the cake.
  • Don’t skip the frosting dam, this will help ensure your filling won’t spill out on to the sides of the cake.
  • Another step you don’t want to skip is the crumb coat. This helps keep any loose crumbs from getting into the final frosting of the cake.
  • If you’re using fresh limes for garnishes, be sure not to place them on the cake until the day you plan to serve the cake or they will dry out.
  • To help prop the mini tequila bottles I used toothpicks on the back side to help them stand up. Be sure to remove the toothpicks before serving!

Plan It Out

Here is what my schedule looked like for making this cake. Be sure to check out the “Make Ahead” section to plan your schedule.

  • Day 1: Bake the cake layers and prepare the lime curd.
  • Day 2: Prepare the orange Swiss meringue buttercream, assemble cake and serve.

Make Ahead

The cake layers can be made up to 3 days in advance, wrapped in plastic, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

The lime curd can be made up to 1 week ahead, stored in an airtight container.

The orange Swiss meringue buttercream can be made up to 10 days in advance, stored in an airtight container. Bring buttercream to room temperature before remixing.

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Adapted from Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes by Lindsay Conchar

Margarita Layer Cake

Margarita Layer Cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes

Homemade Margarita Layer Cake baked with fresh lime juice, lime zest and tequila, filled with lime curd filling and topped with orange Swiss meringue buttercream flavored with Cointreau.

Ingredients

SPECIAL TOOLS

MARGARITA CAKE

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 6 large egg whites, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice from about 6 limes
  • 4 tablespoons tequila

LIME CURD

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

ORANGE LIQUEUR SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (8.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau

Instructions

MARGARITA CAKE

    1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment attached, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and lime zest and mix until combined. Add 2 egg whites and mix until combined. Add the remaining 4 egg whites and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, lime juice and tequila. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and mix to combine. Add the milk mixture and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist cake crumbs attached, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Remove cake layer from the oven and allow cakes to cool in their pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, invert cakes on to cooling racks to cool completely.

LIME CURD

    1. In a medium sized saucepan, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, lime juice and zest.
    2. Over low heat, whisk constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken. The curd should coat the back of a wooden spoon without being translucent.
    3. Remove the curd from the heat and stir in the butter. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl to remove any solids that may have formed while cooking. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

ORANGE LIQEUER SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour in the egg whites and sugar and whisk by hand until combined. Fill a medium saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place mixer bowl on top, being sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and attach a candy thermometer.
  2. Whisking occasionally, heat the egg mixture until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. Once the mixture reaches 160 degrees, transfer to a stand mixer and beat the mixture on high speed for 10 minutes or until medium-stiff peaks form. At this point the outside of the mixer bowl should be room temperature. Switch out the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and with the mixer on low speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, and then add the vanilla extract and orange liqueur. Once combined, turn the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until buttercream is smooth, about 4 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat for 1 more minute to remove as many air bubbles from the buttercream as possible.

ASSEMBLE

  1. Fit Ateco piping tip #827 on a piping bag and fill with about 1 cup buttercream. Place one cake layer on a cake board and place on a turntable or cake pedestal. Pipe a buttercream dam around the edge of the cake. Add about 1/2 cup lime curd to the center and spread it out until it reaches the buttercream dam.
  2. Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat the above process. Lastly, place the third cake layer on top (bottom side up). Apply a thin coat of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake to crumb coat it. Refrigerate the cake for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream and place any extra buttercream in the piping bag for decorating. Once the cake is completely covered in buttercream, chill it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Decorate the cake with the remaining buttercream in the piping bag. Add mini bottles of alcohol, limes slices and sanding sugar if desired.

Notes

The cake layers can be made up to 3 days in advance, wrapped in plastic, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

The lime curd can be made up to 1 week, stored in an airtight container.

The orange Swiss meringue buttercream can be made up to 10 days in advance, stored in an airtight container. Bring buttercream to room temperature before remixing.

Assembled cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 455Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 398mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 8g

*Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary.*

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