Lime-Coconut Cake: Conjuring Summer


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Yes, I realize with great sadness that summer is no longer with us.

But having grown up in Singapore, where it’s generally about 90 degrees all year round, I’ve always chosen to regard this little “four seasons” concept as more of a state of mind.

And my state of mind all year round tends to veer toward clear blue skies, suncreen and sand-between-my-toes kind of weather.

Which is how I found myself thinking about tropical lime-coconut cake all morning.

And, just when I thought I was being silly and a little too wistful about bygone pie-filled, scorching-hot days these sage words popped up courtesy of Gwen, a chef who blogs at Pen & Fork: “Ignore the calendar. Proceed full speed ahead with ‘put the lime in the coconut’ cake and eat it all up.”

Sound words indeed.

The recipe for this cake is incredibly simple.

So simple, in fact, that many bloggers have tried it and come up with their own variations.

Gourmet magazine first introduced it to all of us in March, prompting Smitten Kitchen to try it out.

My Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge and Let’s Lunch friend Nicole at Pinch My Salt created her own version using cake flour, leavening and buttermilk. And Phoo-D added a dash of tequila to the glaze, some candied Meyer lemon peel and David Lebovitz’s blood orange sorbet on the side for her take on the cake.

This cake was truly starting to take on a life of its own online.

As for me, I liked the looks of Sara’s flatter version (which uses all-purpose and not self-rising flour) at Artichokes And Garlic.

As I mentioned, the recipe is super easy. (You could make it with your eyes closed but I probably wouldn’t recommend it.)

First, you toast the coconut and beat together butter, sugar and lime zest. I chose to use regular limes instead of key limes, which the original Gourmet recipe calls for.

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Then you mix in eggs, flour, salt, milk, lime juice, coconut and in the oven it goes. When it comes out, you add a thick layer of glaze and sprinkle toasted coconut generously on top.

And there you have it — picture perfect and party ready.

I first made this for a summer party on a friend’s roofdeck and we thought it tasted just perfect paired with a crisp white or rose.

The way this tangy and sweet cake tasted, the sun, the roofdeck and the summery wines were all superfluous in the end. However, whenever I want to think about summer from now, I know I’m going to be pulling out this recipe.

Enjoy …

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Coconut-Lime Cake Recipe

(adapted from Artichokes And Garlic)

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp grated lime zest
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp rum

Preheat
oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, and line the bottom
with a piece of parchment.

Toast the
coconut on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, until crispy and golden
brown. (Note: Watch this very carefully as the coconut can go from looking nice and toasty to burning very easily — which is what happened to me.) Set aside to cool.

In
a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and lime zest until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is
added. Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, and to that, add
1/2 cup of the toasted coconut.

Mix together the 3/4 cup of milk,
and half (or 2 tbsp) of the lime juice. At a low speed, mix the flour
mixture and lime/milk mixture into the batter alternating between the
two, beginning and ending with the flour(so it goes, flour, milk,
flour, milk, flour). Pour the batter into the pan, and smooth the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until top is golden brown, and a toothpick
inserted in the center comes out clean.

Mix together the remaining 2
tbsp lime juice, confectioners sugar and rum, and spoon over
top of cake, then top with the remaining toasted coconut.

Cut and serve.

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