Celebrating is a big deal in our family. Whether it is a holiday, a birthday or just a random Tuesday, we try to be intentional about creating space to celebrate the big and little things in life together. And it just seems to be innately wired in us Southern folk that a good celebration should always revolve around food.
Anytime we talk about getting together with people, my mind always jumps to “well, what will we eat?!” To celebrate weekends, I have instituted #WeekendWaffles. With the waffle iron comes a breakfast party for a day of rest. When friends welcome new babies, I get busy baking a fresh loaf of bread to bring them. When my brother visits, I instinctually bake his favorite chocolate chip cookies. Food is just celebratory.
And is there really any food more centered on celebration than a cake? Its very presence is a cue to everyone to get ready to party. If you are looking for a fresh and tangy cake for a summer celebration, then I do believe you have found it. This Mojito Cake is perfect for a poolside party or a Tuesday-night “just because.” It is everything a cake should be: moist, dense and full of zesty lime and fresh mint to create a party on your palate. So go ahead and celebrate—just don’t forget the cake!
1 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
½ cup rum
Zest of 2 limes (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1⁄3 cup fresh mint, chopped fine
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Mint and Lime Cream Cheese Frosting:
½ cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cups fresh mint, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. rum (optional)
Fresh lime and mint for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9-in. round baking pans. (Alternatively, you can use three 8-in. pans for a triple-layer cake.) In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add oil, milk, rum, egg, lime zest, lime juice and mint. Whip on medium/high speed for about 2 to 3 minutes to cream together. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Once wet ingredients are creamy and smooth, fold dry ingredients in, being careful not to over-stir. Pour batter evenly between prepared pans and place in preheated oven on a middle rack; bake for 30 minutes or until cake is firmly cooked and a toothpick comes out clean.
While cakes cool, prepare Mint and Lime Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides if needed. Add powdered sugar, fresh mint, lime juice and lime zest. If you want to really taste the rum, you can replace lime juice with 2 Tbsp. rum or more to taste. Once well combined and nice and creamy, place Frosting in fridge to chill while cakes continue to cool.
To assemble, carefully remove cakes from pans by turning over onto cooling racks. Once fully cooled, place first layer on a cake plate. Start by frosting the middle. Add a generous and even layer of frosting to coat top of base layer. Place second cake layer on top and frost cake fully. Garnish with fresh sliced lime and sprigs of fresh mint. Like its namesake, this cake is best served chilled!
Leah Conti is the writer and kitchen adventurer behind thejuniperkitchen.com, as well as an avid food lover, nonprofit co-creator (junipertable.org), part-time photographer and mom.