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Coconut-lime bundt cake

Bundt cakes are the casseroles of the dessert world: quick, easy, large enough to feed a crowd. Adorned with just a dusting of powdered sugar or a translucent veil of icing, they’re the modest counterpart to fussy, heavily frosted layer cakes. And they’re practical, a cinch to transport and help yourself to at the buffet table. But sometimes the familiar prettiness of the girl next door can get boring, so she needs a bit of tarting up. That’s why I decided to make a coconut-lime bundt cake for an Easter potluck.

Our church is full of great cooks. We’re a pretty diverse bunch, and no one seems to have come up in a tuna casserole and green jello tradition. At our potlucks, we’ve had huge trays of creamy, gooey mac and cheese, sweet potato biscuits and cornbread, braised short ribs. A generous non-cook, I think, always brings in boxes of Popeye’s chicken. So it would be cheating if I just baked a pan of brownies and called it a day.

I like citrus in a dessert after a big meal because the acidity gives the impression of cutting through some of the heaviness, never mind that a cake loaded with butter and sugar isn’t really “light”. I’d been eyeing a key lime bundt cake recipe for a while and thought to dress it up with some coconut, inspired by this cake which I’ve never had but induces drooling every time I look at it.

I’m not a fan of coconut bits in the cake itself (it makes me run for the dental floss) so I substituted coconut milk instead of regular and decided that a shower of flaked coconut over the glaze would add the perfect amount of texture and crunch.

The final product: sweet and sassy, the coconut milk’s soft floral notes playing off the zingy lime. I don’t ask what people think of my food, but seeing the young daughter of our potluck hosts devour a slice of cake in about thirty seconds was quite a compliment. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Coconut-lime bundt cake
serves 16

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra large eggs
1 cup coconut milk
finely grated zest of 4 limes
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (to be used in syrup and glaze)

1/2 cup lime juice
3/4 cup sugar

Coconut-lime glaze:
1/4 cup lime juice
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (more or less based on your preference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.

On lowest speed, alternately add dry ingredients and coconut milk, scraping bowl as necessary and combining just to mix. Fold in lime zest. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While cake is baking, prepare the syrup: in a small saucepan, stir together lime juice and sugar over low heat until dissolved. Set aside.

Prepare the glaze: in a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and lime juice until completely smooth.

After cake is done, cool on wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Invert cake on rack over aluminum foil. Using a pastry brush, brush syrup over warm cake. Let dry for 10-15 minutes. Pour glaze over cake and sprinkle with flaked coconut. Let cake cool completely and transfer to cake platter. Let stand loosely covered for several hours or overnight before serving.


  1. Nina wrote:

    Wow, Cathy! Now I’ve got to try this!

    Friday, April 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  2. Nina wrote:

    Thanks for this lovely adaptation, Cathy! I do not have a mixer so I used a wooden spoon and it turned out well. To thank my arm for its laborious work, I did not let the cake cool completely as instructed. I waited all of 5 minutes before having a piece of the cake. It was great warm! The cake was moist and the edges were crusty. It reminded me of pound cake, but with a touch of citrus tempered by the milky smoothness of coconut. Delicious! (Now to show restraint and not consume it all by myself…)

    Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 2:15 am | Permalink
  3. So glad you enjoyed it, Nina! Yours was beautiful and I actually drooled when I saw the photo of it :)

    Friday, April 27, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

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