Margarita Cake

September 9, 2016

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had cocktail cake on my mind for months. Thankfully, there’s a baker in the house to turn my twisted fantasies into reality! Actually, come to think of it, this whole margarita cake might have been Audrey’s idea in the first place . . . even better! That said, it probably wasn’t the best timing, given the fact that Fiona’s favorite two words right at the moment are “birthday cake”, and it’s been quite the chore just to keep her little fingers away.  Some serious recipe testing went into this one. First, not enough tequila. Then, too much tequila (I know, can you believe it?). In the end, I think we found the perfect balance. Because everyone deserves a slice of cocktail cake, right?! Except for Fiona . . . she can stick to chocolate. 🙂

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

A couple notes: four layers (2 cakes) is a lot of cake, so feel free to cut this recipe in half. I made it both ways, and it works quite nicely for either. Also, special thanks to Sarah for the lovely cake plate and silverware!! It wouldn’t have been nearly as pretty without you!

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (
Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

Margarita Cake | HonestlyYUM (

Margarita Cake


For the cake

For the lime curd

For the frosting


For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 9-by-2 inch round cake pans with parchment paper, lightly oil or grease with non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together, and set aside.
  3. Beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until the mixture is thickened (about 3 minutes). Beat in the milk, oil, lime zest, and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, and salt mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to a give a few last good stirs to make sure no flour pockets remain.
  4. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake in the oven until a cake tester comes out clean, and the top is golden brown. In our oven, two cakes together took about 1 hour. In order to bake evenly, turn the cakes about halfway through the process, approximately 30 minutes into baking.
  5. Meanwhile, while cakes are baking, prepare the tequila-lime syrup. In a small bowl, stir the sugar into the lime juice until the sugar dissolves, then add the tequila. Divide the tequila-lime syrup into two portions (one for each cake).
  6. As soon as the cakes are out of the oven, transfer to a wire rack (keep in pan). Use a skewer to immediately poke holes in each cake, about 1/2 inch to 1 inch apart, and through the depth of the cake. Slowly pour the tequila-lime syrup over the cake, slowing as needed to allow the syrup to soak in. Allow cakes to cool in their pans to room temperature. Make the frosting and the lime curd while the cakes are cooling.

For the frosting

  1. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of stand mixer. Start the mixer on low to incorporate the ingredients, then turn speed up to medium and mix until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add the Cointreau, and mix again until incorporated.

For the lime curd

  1. In a heavy saucepan whisk together lime juice, sugar, and eggs. Put the pan on medium heat, and whisk in the butter. Whisk constantly until curd is thick and bubbles appear on the surface (about 15 minutes). Strain through a fine mesh strainer and let cool to room temperature.

To assemble

  1. Remove both cakes from pans, and cut each cake evenly into two layers (see below for a good tutorial if you need one). I refrigerated both cakes for a couple hours just to firm them up a bit for the layering processes. This isn’t necessary, so if you’re short on time you can skip the fridge, but I’ve found it makes the layers a bit less fragile to handle. Once divided, take the bottom layer of one cake and place it onto your cake stand or serving platter. Using a piping bag, make a border around the edge of the cake with the frosting (see photo above). Fill the space inside the frosting by spreading out ~1/3 of the lime curd evenly across the layer of the cake. Place the next layer of cake on top and repeat this process twice more. Don’t worry if frosting squeezes out the side. In fact, that helps for the naked cake look. Once you reach the top layer of cake, do not put any lime curd (you shouldn’t have any left anyway). Instead, cover the top with frosting and use an icing spatula to spread evenly across the top of the cake, and smooth down the sides with a bit of frosting as well. Don’t feel like you need to use all the frosting. I had some left over. Top with fresh lime wheels (optional) and serve immediately. If not serving immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, but make sure to bring to room temperature before serving.


A good tutorial on cutting cakes into even layers:

(images by HonestlyYUM)


I’ve read the recipe 5 times and I feel there is a step missing for the tequila syrup. Can you please provide that

It is Step 5 in the recipe for the cake, using the last 3 ingredients in the cake recipe. It took me a few times to figure that out.

This cake is delicious!! My only challenge was in handling a really soft 9″ layer half. The cake is super, super soft. Next time, I’m going to try it with 3 8″ cake pans to see if that works. Otherwise …. I’d highly recommend slightly freezing the cake before slicing the layers in half.

Can this cake be frozen before frosting & serving? (To save time on the day) I only ask this due to the tequila syrup additon.. thanks.

OMG… I am taking this to a Cinco party at work on Friday this week. When I committed to this cake I thought you cooked down the Tequila syrup (which would burn off the alcohol)- ha!!!
I am limiting the slices to one per person 🙂

I’ll let you know what my co-workers thought of this masterpiece.

when you say flour are you referring to the all purpose flour or self raising, just wanted to make sure. Thank you.

Yum! Made this for my husband’s birthday… then I remembered (doh!) the kids can’t eat it due to the tequila, so I made a second boring ol’ cake from a box for them. Which means: MORE MARGARITA CAKE FOR ME!

Thanks for the wonderful recipe – this one, and many others. 🙂

Love this recipe! I was hesitant about soaking the cake in 1 cup tequila but it’s actually quite perfect! You can certainly smell the tequila but you can’t taste it that much. Rather, it brings out the lime flavor and it’s oh so good.
I was wondering how well you think this would be baked as a 2 layer 9 by 13 sheet cake? I’m making a tiered version for a wedding (I tried it and it does hold up!) but was a little hesitant about baking it into larger rectangular layers for the sheet cake.

I made this cake for my daughter’s 18th birthday and it was AMAZING! My custard didn’t turn out quite as thick as I had hoped, but the flavor was definitely there! Thank you so much for sharing and creating this magnificent recipe!

This is amazing! Looks great on the photo and I’m sure that tastes good

Can you freeze cake and then decorate add lemon curd etc later date?

Guess what? It’ll be my birthday in 8 days, and that’s going to be my birthday cake. Amazing!

Thank you so much for this recipe!! I made it for my Mexican friend’s birthday, i’m sure it will be a hit:)
It took me about 20+ minutes to make a lime curd, in case anyone has the same problem I did, after 10 min. it was still very liquid. I increased the temperature a bit and kept whisking and ta-dah it turned out wonderfully!

Yay!! So glad you gave it a go, Julia! Yes, the lime curd actually takes a bit long for the four layer cake. I originally put the approximate time for just two layers. I’ve have updated the recipe to reflect that. Thanks for letting me know!! Hope you enjoy! 🙂

This is the cake to fulfill all my birthday cake fantasies!! Saving this and making for my birthday next year. The photographs are just magnificent!

Yay, thanks Kate! Doooooo it!!

Fa venire l’acquolina! Ho proprio un surplus di tofu che non so come utilizzare… non friggo quasi mai, ho dell’olio di sesamo ma per le alte temperature non è meglio l’olio di oliva extra? Quanto olio metti nella padella? Ciao e grazie mille

Lime cuuuurd oh man. And I think I’m going to add pretty green limes to the top of every cake from now on.

Such a gorgeous cake! I love the simplicity and the moodiness! LOve it!

Thank you so much Stephanie! I think it turned out pretty good for my first true cake decorating experience. Glad you think so too 🙂

Oh my goodness – I’ve been looking at these photos for well over an hour. I just can’t stop! I love that you photographed the full cake like an epic cocktail! It’s just soooo pretty! Love your icing job too;)

You had me at cake..then margarita…then back to cake…(lather, rinse, repeat). This sounds SOOO delicious…if only I could bake. Drat! Happy + dessert = *INTERNET WIN*!!!!

Haha. Thanks Homer!! I’ll take an internet win any day of the week 🙂

Yum! This looks so good. I don’t see the ingredients for the tequila-lime syrup. Can you please add this?

Thanks Margaret! They’re actually listed under the cake ingredients.

This is my dream cake!

Ditto!! 😉

Hoi Inge ik eet alles nog als al tijd anders kun je niets meer eten want iedere keer is er weer wat anders niet goed maar je moet er wel zorgvuldig mee omgaan en matig met alles maar wil je mij geen mailtjes meer steren want ik doe er even niets mee ik mag niet lijnen maar eet behoorlijk gezond alvast bedank Johanna

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