Coconut and lime cake recipe

Coconut and lime cake
You can decorate this with toasted coconut flakes - Haarala Hamilton

I didn’t like coconut cakes or buns until I made this. It does include desiccated coconut but the coconut milk brings a richness that compels you to take another bite. It’s one of my favourite cakes.


Prep time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time

Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes




  • 245g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing

  • 300g plain flour, sifted

  • ¾ tsp baking powder

  • 50g desiccated coconut

  • 145g soft light-brown sugar

  • 100g coconut palm sugar (or just use all soft light-brown sugar)

  • 200ml tinned coconut milk (be sure to shake the tin so the cream and liquid are blended)

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • finely grated zest of 2 limes

For the coconut buttercream

  • 80g unsalted butter

  • 80g icing sugar

  • 50ml coconut cream

  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut

  • juice of ½-1 lime, to taste

  • 1 tbsp Malibu or white rum (optional)

  • toasted or sweetened coconut flakes, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/170C fan/gas mark 4.

  2. Butter and base-line a 22 x 11 x 6cm loaf tin.

  3. Put all the dry ingredients for the cake, plus a pinch of salt, into a large bowl.

  4. Mix together the cooled butter, coconut milk, eggs and vanilla extract, and pour into the dry ingredients.

  5. Add the lime zest and mix with a wooden spoon.

  6. Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes (check the cake after 1 hour 15 minutes, as ovens vary so much). A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.

  7. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then carefully turn it out on to a wire rack (it’s a fragile cake). Leave to cool completely.

  8. Meanwhile, beat together the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy, then (with the electric stand mixer on a low speed if you’re using one) add the coconut cream.

  9. Beat again, then add the desiccated coconut, lime juice and alcohol, if using.

  10. Scrape into a bowl, cover and chill for about 30 minutes, to allow it to firm.

  11. Spread the buttercream on top of the cake with a palette knife and sprinkle with coconut flakes. Leave somewhere cool so that the topping can set a little before slicing.