These Guys Again?

It must be easy to forget all the effort expended in juicing and zesting Key Limes, because less than a year after the cheesecake ordeal, here we are again.  Do you realize how many limes it takes to yield even the relatively limited quantities of essence described in the recipe below?  No wonder most people use the bottled stuff.  Most sane people, at least.

Still, this journal is about exploring the culinary universe, isn’t it?  If part of that venture’s cost is borne in extracting liquid from about 48 billion limes, give or take, so be it.  At least samplers will have a taste of real fruit, and not of the stuff that’s been stored in a container on a shelf somewhere for God knows how long.

In the end it’s worth it, though, as Key Lime Coconut Cake is a bright and flavorful way to welcome the warmer temperatures and with them sunshine increasing daily.  When this recipe first appeared in March 2009 issue of Gourmet, the timing wasn’t accidental.  What better way to shake off the last of winter’s coldness than with a tasty mega-dose of tropical bounty?

At its most basic, this week’s entry is a pound cake, though constant bursts of sun-drenched extravagance takes tasters to unexpected  heights.  Of course, there are the limes speckled throughout, ensuring every bite exudes bright freshness.  Also, before the topping is applied, a syrupy lime mixture is poured over the cake, doubling the tiny fruits’ effect.

For the coconut, toasting the flakes beforehand makes the difference.  Not only does pan-roasting intensify the coconut flavor, but it also adds a toasty profile that nicely accents the cake’s sweetness and the limes’ zing.  As coconuts not only are sprinkled on top (obviously), but also are mixed into the batter, these contrasting notes continually spring forth

Oh, and don’t forget the rum!  The instructions make this part optional, and even at that, it limits the booze to a tablespoon, but a certain tropical exuberance applies.  Not only is a bit more than a tablespoon included in the picture above, but a splash also was added to the batter before baking.  Of course, it helps to have plenty of rum left over from last month’s muffin recipe.

Just no more squeezing Key Limes for a while.  At least not for several months, when forgetfulness reasserts itself.


Key Lime Coconut Cake

  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  •  1 tablespoon grated Key Lime zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 3/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh Key Lime juice, divided
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rum, optional (*1)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Put the coconut in a small baking pan and place this in the heated oven.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes, stirring a couple times, until the mixture begins to turn golden.

In a mixer, beat together butter, granulated sugar and zest until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut.  In a third bowl, mix together the milk and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice.

At low speed, beat in the flour mixture and the milk mixture a little at a time.  Alternate between the wet and dry additions.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and smooth out the top.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

Remove cake from oven and cool on a rack until the cake is merely warm.  Invert the cake pan and remove the parchment paper.

Mix together the confectioner’s sugar, the remaining lime juice and the rum (if using).  Pour this over the cake, then immediately sprinkle on the remaining coconut flakes.

Cut into eating sizes and serve.


1 – Just this, I definitely used the rum, and I included more than appears in the recipe above, both in terms of adding it to the batter as well as to the glaze, and in terms of using a bit more than a tablespoon.  Ironic, because by itself I don’t really like rum, but when it’s used as an ingredient…




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