The most divinely tender gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake topped with zesty Lime Buttercream. It’s light and fluffy and richly creamy at the same time. And… it can also be made dairy free.
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First posted 25th March 2014… Recipe revamped and post updated 18th May 2023
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A Gluten Free Coconut and Lime Cake to die for!
There are days when the baking gods are with you… They obviously decided the world needed a good gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake, because they were cheering from the sidelines for this one. It’s utterly incredible and quite honestly blew me away both for its texture and flavour. I did good on this one!
When you move fork to mouth, the taste of coconut is unmistakable… Yet the coconut richness is cut through by a subtle tartness from the lime. It’s soft and tender… Fluffy of crumb yet lightly creamy and almost satin at the same time. The lime buttercream is divinely silky and deliciously tangy… And perfectly paired against the gentle sweetness of the sponge.
THIS gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake is a triumph (my husband said)! Too much of a triumph to keep to myself…
Why you’ll love my Gluten Free Coconut and Lime Cake
‘Yeah yeah yeah’ I hear you say… But seriously. I’ve made many coconut and lime cakes before in my life and none have come close to the pleasure gained from eating this one. So, what makes it so special and why will you love it?
- The texture is to die for. It’s not your standard cake crumb by any means… There’s no dryness, but rather a creaminess that shines from the addition of coconut cream within the batter mix. Yet it’s not ‘wet’ or dense either… It’s light and fluffy, and unmistakably cake.
- The combination of coconut and lime is tropical heaven. The two flavours were made for each other and will waft you across oceans to sun-kissed white beaches and wave-lapped shores.
- It’s gluten free. That’s got to be a winner, right?
- It’s really easy to make… even if you are a less-than-confident baker.
- Unlike many gluten free cakes, it has an amazing shelf life. I deliberately kept a slice in an airtight container for 5 days to test it and it was still as fresh as the day it was made.
- The sponge is perfect as a tea-time single-layer cake or can be stacked and decorated to create a celebration show-stopper.
- It’s also easy to make dairy free.
What’s in this Coconut and Lime Cake?
Most of the ingredients used to make my gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake are pretty bog-standard for any cake. But here’s a quick run-down on what you’ll need…
Gluten free flour blend
Most standard, well-balanced gluten free flour blends should work well for this recipe (including Doves Freee). However, because this is a cake which looks nicer with a light crumb, I would recommend using a white baking flour. I personally used my Gluten Free Alchemist White Baking Blend A (which can be found at the bottom of my What is Gluten Free Flour? page).
Leavening, binding and salt
To enhance the flavour (particularly of the lime), I added just a pinch of salt to the flour blend. Alongside this, a small amount of xanthan gum is added for structure. (Don’t add extra xanthan gum if your flour blend already includes it in the mix).
Then there are the raising agents… Because of the particular qualities of gluten free flours and how they hydrate, I find that for many cakes, a balanced combination of both baking powder and a touch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) work best. And so it is for my Coconut and Lime Cake. However, if you are a ‘hater’ of baking soda, then it’s fine to substitute it with more baking powder (at a quantity of around twice the bicarb amount stated).
The coconut bit
It wouldn’t be a coconut and lime cake without the coconut and lime right? And this cake is super coconutty on account of the use of the usual desiccated coconut… But also a good amount of coconut cream in the mix.
The desiccated coconut is added in careful balance. Although I love it in cake, I reckon you can have too much of a good thing… So for this cake, there’s enough to give the texture and chew desired in a coconut cake, but not so much that you need to pick it out of your teeth for the next week.
And actually… The coconut cream enhances the ‘coconut’ authenticity way more than dried coconut. Indeed, it gives an amazing richness that I have yet to experience in any other coconut cake. Its addition to the batter is genius! It brings moisture and richness as well as tropical flavour and luxury. Just be sure to use full-fat coconut milk (one standard can should provide enough cream for an 8 inch one-layer cake). And only use the coconut solids (not the liquid coconut water that separates in the can).
The lime bit
The lime for the sponge is added in the form of lime zest. This provides a subtle degree of tang, without too much acidity. The sponge is then topped with a deliciously tart lime buttercream which cuts through the sweetness of the frosting and balances with the cake perfectly.
Then there are the rest of the ingredients… All standard cake stuff that needs little explanation… You’ll need:
- Sugar – white caster sugar (superfine sugar) is best. And icing sugar for the buttercream.
- Eggs – UK large size… To see how your eggs compare in size, check out my international Egg Size and Weight Comparison Chart (it’s amazing how much they vary round the world).
- Butter – preferably unsalted (or use a dairy free alternative).
- Vanilla extract – optional.
- Milk – just a tablespoon to loosen the batter.
Making the recipe safe for people with Coeliac Disease
- The sponge is made with a safe gluten free flour blend.
- All labels have been checked to confirm ingredients are safe from hidden gluten and cross-contamination. If you are new to label checking, have a look at my page Coeliac Disease + Food for some helpful tips on what to look out for.
Can I make a gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake that is also dairy free?
Yes. It’s really easy to make my Coconut and Lime Cake dairy free as well as gluten free. Simply sub the butter and milk in the sponge and frosting for dairy free alternatives. I recommend using a block dairy free ‘butter’ as this is a like-for-like switch. In the UK, Flora Plant B+tter or Stork vegan blocks are worthy alternatives.
Single layer cake or stacked to impress…
You will see from the photos that there are two cakes… One is a single layer topped with lime buttercream only. The other is a layer cake, decorated with both lime buttercream AND the most delightful marshmallow flowers. So here’s the story…
The cake with the marshmallow flowers was actually made way back… 2014 to be precise. It was made as a birthday cake and actually with a previous coconut and lime cake recipe. The sponge recipe I share here is WAY better! But I thought I’d keep a couple of the old photos anyway, to show you an alternative fun celebration cake idea.
For a two-layer cake, make double the sponge quantity (use the 2x button on the recipe card for automatic calculation)… Use two 8 inch (or 9 inch) tins… and make 2 to 2½ times the buttercream as well, to be able to layer or fully cover the cake before adding the mallow flowers.
Alternatively… Stack the cake your way and decorate as creatively as you like!
The marshmallow flowers…
I confess… The marshmallow flowers are not my own idea. I found them in the Australian Women’s Weekly book “Kids Party Cakes” (2005) bought when my daughter was young. Having used the flowers previously on cupcakes (for which they were originally showcased), I decided they would look pretty on a large cake too. I wasn’t wrong! Plus they add a touch of sugar-sweetness and a lovely soft squish (like eating soft sweet pillows).
Finding mallows that were multi-coloured was a bit of a feat… But eventually, I found some in a local farm shop made by a company called Fairco (which I think is American). But to be honest, standard pink and whites would look gorgeous too. Just check the labels to be certain they are gluten free. And beware… Smarties are NOT gluten free… So make sure you use a safe chocolate bean alternative (there are plenty available).
How to make marshmallow flowers
Once you have your (standard-sized) marshmallows and colourful chocolate beans, making marshmallow flowers to decorate your Coconut and Lime Cake is easy…
- Cut each marshmallow in half horizontally, with scissors.
- Gently pinch together opposite sides (with the cut side up) to make petal shapes.
- Use 5 mallow petals (set cut side up) and a central chocolate bean pressed into the buttercream to make each decorative mallow flower.
How to store Coconut and Lime Cake
This gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake has a fabulous shelf-life. To get the best out of it, store it at room temperature in an airtight container. It should then last a good 5 days.
I’ve not tried freezing it, but it should freeze well in a sealed bag/wrap. However, I would advise freezing the sponges undecorated (buttercream isn’t the best after freezing!). And decorate when ready to serve.
Ready to make a gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake?
And that’s it! You can find the recipe for my deliciously rich, soft and fluffy gluten free Coconut and Lime Cake below (scroll an inch or two further). I hope you love it too.
For all our other recipes… Head over to our amazing Gluten Free Recipe Index… then browse and click the categories for loads of fabulous gluten free kitchen inspiration. It’s all shared for free, with my love.
More recipes you might like with Coconut or Lime
- Gluten Free Banana Brownies with Coconut
- Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Lime and Blackcurrant Drizzle
- Blackberry Cheesecake with Coconut (the lightest cheesecake ever!)
- Orange Meringue Pie with Lime and Walnut Pastry
- Date Flapjack with Apricot and Coconut
- BBQ Swordfish with Lime, Pistachio and Coriander
Gluten Free Coconut and Lime Cake
- 8 inch/20 cm round baking tin (loose-bottomed)
Coconut Lime Sponge
- 170 g plain gluten free flour blend I use GFA Blend A (see NOTES), but an alternative flour blend should work fine.
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1¼ tsp baking powder (gluten free)
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 40 g desiccated coconut
- 130 g unsalted butter or dairy free alternative – softened
- 150 g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 2 large eggs UK large size (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’ (at room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or lime extract
- 120 g cream solids from a can of full-fat coconut milk – with min 55% coconut extract solids (see recipe instructions)
- 2 limes – zest only finely grated
- 1 tbsp milk dairy free as required
Lime Butter Frosting
- 80 g unsalted butter – softened or dairy free alternative
- pinch fine sea salt
- 165 g icing sugar – sifted confectioners/powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp lime juice or more if required for consistency
- ½ lime zest – finely grated
- extra lime zest to sprinkle (finely grated)
For flower cake marshmallow decoration:
- Large bag of marshmallows check gluten free
- handful of chocolate beans check gluten free
To separate the canned coconut cream from the coconut water
- For ease of separation, it helps to chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge for several hours before opening.
- Open a tin of coconut milk and either: a) If the water is on the top, tip it off and scoop the coconut cream into a bowl. OR b) If the cream solids are on the top, scoop these off into a bowl. (Either way, save the coconut water for smoothies or to drink).
- Set the coconut cream aside to come to room temperature.
- Base line an 8 inch/20 cm round loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven to 170 Fan/180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum and desiccated coconut, making sure they are fully combined. Set aside. (Tip: Weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously).
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating gently but thoroughly between each until completely combined and smooth.
- Add the vanilla, coconut cream, lime zest and milk and beat again to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients and fold through until just combined, but even. Be careful not to over-mix. The batter should be a soft, dropping consistency.
- Spoon the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top.
- Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until the top springs back and a skewer or cocktail stick inserted comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
- Place a clean dry tea towel over the top while cooling.
- Beat the butter with a pinch of salt until soft and creamy, light and pale.
- Gradually add and beat in the icing sugar, lime juice and lime zest until even and creamy with a spreadable consistency. If the buttercream feels too stiff, add a drop more lime juice (no more than a ¼ tsp at a time).
- When the cake is cold, spread the buttercream across the top and sprinkle with a little extra finely-grated lime zest to decorate.
- Serve and enjoy.
To make Marshmallow Flowers:
- Cut each marshmallow in half horizontally using a pair of clean scissors.
- Squeeze together opposite sides (holding the mallow cut side up) to form a petal shape.
- While the buttercream is still soft, arrange the petals on the cake (5 for each flower, cut side up), leaving a small space in the centre of each.
- Place a colourful chocolate bean in the middle to form the centre of each flower.
Depending on whether decorating with buttercream between the layers and on the top only, or over the whole cake, either make double or 2½ to 3 times the amount of buttercream.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist