I love coconut in all its forms – fresh coconut milk (preferably sitting under a swaying palm tree on a beach somewhere), succulent fresh white flesh spooned straight out of the coconut, shredded and toasted on Balinese pancakes with lime and palm sugar syrup, curries – any which way and, of course, cocktails. A Swedish nutritionist once told me that my love of coconut was something to do with my blood type. This theory was confirmed for her by the fact that I also have blonde hair and I love eggs and lemons/limes?. (I hope this means that I can, without guilt, eat two or three pieces of this deliciously moist and tangy cake washed down with a pina colada?)
My Tahitian lime tree has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving and I just harvested another bucketful of juicy green fruit. As long as I give this tree a feed, mulch and water, it keeps flowering and fruiting – with more than 40 kilos this season. So, with a surplus of limes, it was time to make this really delicious and easy cake. Plus, I do not need an excuse to have the smell of cooking coconut wafting around the house.
I have been trying out variations on this recipe for a couple of years and this if by far the best. The cake also came out evenly cooked with no cracks in it!! (Well, one small one)
Coconut and Lime Syrup Cake
250g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
zest of one lime
250g self-raising flour (I tend to always use wholemeal)
1 extra tsp baking powder (makes the cake lighter)
135g (1 1/2 cups) desiccated coconut
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
185ml (3/4 cup) water
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a 25cm springform pan and line the bottom with non-stick baking paper.
In a food processor, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently until light and well combined. Gently fold the flour mixture, lime zest and coconut into the butter mixture until combined – I use the ‘pulse’ button for this because you don’t want to overbeat.
TOP TIP The eggs. ALWAYS break the eggs into a small bowl before adding them to the cake mixture – for two reasons. 1. This way you can check if the eggs are fresh. 2. There is no risk of getting egg shell into the cake mix – like I did the other day, when I was in a hurry, and had to throw the whole lot away and start again!
With a spatula, spoon the cake mixture into the cake tin and smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes on 160 -170C, or until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Meanwhile, to make lime syrup. Peel rind from 2 limes with a vegetable peeler. Remove white pith from rind with a small, sharp knife (otherwise the syrup will be bitter) and then cut rind into very thin strips. Juice all 3 limes. Combine lime rind, lime juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
When cake is cooked, remove from oven and stand in tin for 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin, but keep the baking paper underneath it and place on a large plate. With a thin wooden skewer, carefully poke a few holes over the top of the cake to allow the syrup to soak in Strain hot syrup slowly and evenly over cake. Cool. Serve decorated with reserved lime rind strips and sprinkled with extra coconut, if desired.
TOP TIP: Don’t be tempted to pour the hot syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin. The acid in the limes will react with the metal of the tin and make it taste disgusting. Believe me, I know!! Keeping the baking paper underneath, for a little while, helps to catch any surplus syrup and allow the cake to soak it up. You can slip it out once it has.
TOP TIP TOO: This cake is best served warm. Once it has been in the fridge it loses its light texture – so give it a quick re-heat. We like it with yoghurt or cream.