I’m going to be honest- this cake makes me want an adult beverage. At nearly 7 months into this pregnancy and with summer just around the corner, just about any lime or coconut flavored food makes me think of margaritas and pina coladas. This coconut key lime cake, with its zesty key lime layers and sticky sweet coconut frosting, has me seeing mirages of boozy frozen treats at every bite, and I am just not even a bit ashamed of that.
I imagine that being huge-pregnant in the summer is one of the least glamorous things ever. It’s not just the lack of adult beverages or the repetitive nature of saying, “I’ll just have water, thanks.” It’s lots of things. For example, have you ever considered how a pregnant woman is to tan the backside of her body? When you’re third-trimestering with a watermelon-sized gut, you can’t just flip over to sun your rear. As a result, it’s only April and I already have golden shins, bronzed kneecaps, and some hindparts that are hovering around a shade that I would best describe as translucent. #sexy
Clothing is hard too. I find myself wearing baggy gym clothes and shapeless sundresses nearly 100% of the time, because otherwise I’m stuck with all those additional layers of mesh and support that comes permanently attached to the waistband of maternity shorts. As if I wasn’t already in a perpetual state of pig-like sweating, just add extra nylon casing around my midsection and just see what happens. FULL ON MAN-SWEATING. I was lucky enough to land a maternity bathing suit that is pretty cute, so at least I’m no longer sporting my yoga pants at the pool. My friend’s tween-age daughter told me (with a shocked look on her face) that she thought it was decent, so I’m going to take that as a compliment and win.
Truly, there is nothing better than being pregnant with a third baby. I’m so incredibly grateful, and the gift here is not lost on me. But come July, when this baby is in my arms and I have a shot at wearing normal clothes and drinking basically anything with tequila in it, I will be in heaven. Seriously.
This coconut ket lime cake is an ode to the pending summer. With sweet and tart lime-scented layers and a marshmallow frosting coated in loads of toasted coconut, it’s basically summer in a dessert. I opted to make and share the recipe now because I had a hunch you all may be looking for some alternative treats on these spring days that feel like mid-July. If you’re as ready for sunshine as I am, lets grab our forks and chat the ins and outs of this cake!
The layers of this coconut key lime cake are scented in two ways. The zest of key limes contributes that notably lime flavor while the juice of the limes add a tart punch and acidity. The cake layers bake up moist and fluffy, slightly more dense than a white cake but with a fine crumb. The frosting here is an old fashioned 7 minute frosting. Not familiar? Egg whites and sugar whip up into a fluffy, marshmallow-esque frosting that is ultra-white, super sticky, and kinda cloud-like. The coconut flavor comes from the smidgen of coconut extract before it’s slathered on the layers of cake. To keep the cake from sticking to everything in its path (and to add a ton of extra coconut flavor!) are coat the whole thing in toasted coconut flakes. DIVINE.
So a few questions you may be asking about this coconut key lime cake. Like, what if I can’t find key limes? Totally reasonable. Substitute in the same amount of regular lime juice and zest and the cake will still be fab. Scout’s honor. And what if you’re not into the 7 minute frosting? Also understandable. I’m not always game for the marshmallow flavor, and if that’s you too, try out this buttercream from another favorite cake of mine. Just substitute some coconut extract for the almond extract.
If you need more intel on properly whipping egg whites for the frosting on this coconut key lime cake, you should revisit my last “You Need to Know” post! I chat all the ins and outs of whipping egg whites, so if you’re in the dark, start here! I hope you all get around to making this coconut key lime cake ASAP. It’s sure to get you in the mood for summer. Happy Hump Day and Happy Baking!
If you like this coconut key lime cake you should check out:
Coconut Key Lime Cake
This coconut key lime cake has zesty key lime layers, a 7 minute marshmallow coconut frosting, and it topped with toasted coconut!
- Prep Time: 25
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 10 1x
- Category: Dessert
For the cake:
- 1 cup (230 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2–1/4 cups (450 gm) sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (240 gm) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons key lime zest
- 6 tablespoons key lime juice
- 3 cups (420 gm) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
For the frosting (Adapted from Sarah Kieffer):
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1–2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- 3 cups toasted coconut
To prepare the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 3-8” pans, lining the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating for an additional minute afterward. Combine the buttermilk, zest, and juice, and add half of this mixture to the butter mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder stirring on low speed. Once almost combined add the remaining milk mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in any unincorporated bits into the batter. Divide the batter among the three pans and bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
To prepare the frosting:
- Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan on the stove.
- Meanwhile, in a large clean bowl or clean bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Put the bowl over the pot of gently simmering water and stir with a spatula until the sugar has melted. You can test this by carefully rubbing the mixture between two fingers. It should feel smooth. Once the mixture reaches about 165 degrees (about 6 minutes on the stove) remove the bowl from the heat and and being whipping the mixture on medium-high speed with a hand mixer or on your stand mixer until stiff peaks have formed, about 8-10 minutes. Add the vanilla and coconut extract and stir in.
To assemble the cake:
- Cut the domes off the baked cake layers. Use a bit of frosting to adhere one layer to an 8” cake board or serving plate. Spoon ¾-1 cup of frosting on top of the layer and spread it flat. Repeat this process with the remaining two cake layers and then use the remaining frosting to frost the cake. If desired, you can coat the cake with the toasted coconut flakes, or you can use a torch to carefully toast the meringue frosting. Cake is best served the day it is assembled.