Coconut Lime Layer Cake (gluten-free)

Early Morning Coconut Cake

I’m pretty sure that coconut is my favorite flavor.  It’s my mom’s as well, so coconut gets on the list of possibilities for gatherings very often.  Yet it’s always just coconut, which believe me, I love, but sometimes coconut can be a little overwhelming.  I would know, having made for my birthday the towering coconut cream cake with meringue.  It was divine and dense and a blast of coconut, but it was also way too much cake, coconut, fat, sugar.  Thus, I felt a little sick and didn’t go near coconut for a while.  This time I approached the recipe with new heart, because the recipe was gluten-free, and had no coconut in it but for coconut rum, and flakes.

10 Eggs!

I love the idea of light cakes for Easter, mainly coconut or lemon.  I considered mixing the two but then realized that I had put my lemon cake from my birthday on here and didn’t feel like repeating a flavor so soon.  I also felt bad making yet another dessert.  This blog could use some recipes featuring fava beans or asparagus!

I’d passed over this Bon Appetit recipe for a long time, and I had never noticed its wonders.  It is a chiffon cake made almost entirely with almond flour.  There are two tablespoons of coconut flour in there too, or there would have been.  Not having any coconut flour, I added an equal amount of quinoa flour, because it has a high fiber content just like coconut.  The layers are incredibly light and fluffy in this cake, which is amazing, since most gluten free cakes are so darn dense.  The lime I added plays well with the white chocolate, and the coconut rum to make a very fragrant tropical cake.  What bothered me most was that we couldn’t find unsweetened coconut, so I had to used sweetened,  I toasted it for color, and it also helped to get rid of the overly sweet taste.


Coconut-pineapple, coconut-ginger, coconut-cardamom…I had a long list of ideas for this cake, but settled on lime as it seemed the safest bet, and the best way to keep the sweetness from overwhelming everything.  Because I was so fearful of too much sugar, I squeezed plain lime juice onto the cake layers before adding the frosting.  I added extra salt to the frosting as well.

Now, here I come, Easter, with my cake, though I must say, I’m actually most looking forward to al the savory options.

Gluten-free Coconut Lime Layer Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetít March 2008
Says serves 12, could serve 16

3 1/4 cups chilled heavy cream
11 ounces white chocolate chips, or chopped bars
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut rum or golden rum (I recommend the coconut)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 persian lime (one of the smaller limes)

1 3/4 cups almond flour/meal (this can be made by pulsing blanched almonds in a food processor if you can’t get almond flour till the consistency pictured above)
2 Tablespoons coconut flour or quinoa flour
10 large eggs, at room temperature and separated
1 Tablespoon coconut or golden rum (again, coconut is very good)
2 cups of confectioners sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 small lime (if you can find kaffir limes these would be wonderful in the cake though you might have to play around with amounts)

To Assemble:
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes or unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
Juice of one small lime

For Frosting (which you should start ahead of the cake):

Bring 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of the cream to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Pour hot cream over the chocolate, and whisk until it is smooth.  Add the salt, lime zest, and rum.  Then let sit for an hour at room temperature to thicken and cool.

15 minutes before you are going to whip the cream, place the beaters and metal bowl in the fridge or freezer to chill.  After 15 minutes, pour the chilled cream into the bowl of the stand mixer or the metal bowl to beat with electric beaters.  Beat the cream at medium high speed until the cream is close to holding soft peaks.  This means that the cream will be able to draw a line on the top of the cream.  Add in the white chocolate mixture and beat at medium high a moment more.  The cream will very quickly form stiff peaks and you don’t want to go past this stage.

Move the frosting to the fridge and cover for three hours or as many as eight hours so that it is nice and firm.


Whisk together the almond flour and coconut/quinoa flour.  I used quinoa flour because like coconut flour it has a high fiber content, so I assume if you could find a similar flour it would work well too.  Beat the egg yolks at high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk.  Add in the confectioners sugar (minus 1 Tablespoon) with the rum and mix at a fairly low speed to incorporate; scrape the side.  Then turn to high and beat the yolks for a minute.  Slowly mix in part of the dry mixture, then fold in the rest with a rubber spatula and set aside.

In yet another bowl for the electric mixer, place you egg whites and beat until foamy for a minute.  Then add the salt, cream of tartar, and 1 Tablespoon confectioners sugar.  Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat the egg whites until they are very stiff but not so much that you really have to break them up when you fold them in.  First add about a cup of them to the original mixture.  Fold, part by part, the rest of the whites into the mixture.  If there are still some streaks that is fine.  Turn the mixture into the three pans, and smooth them over.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  They will be well browned because of all the almond flour.  Remove to a cooling rack and let sit for one hour.  Then, run a knife around the outside of the cakes, and invert onto the the racks.  Remove parchment paper.


Place the first layer on the cake stand or plate, with strips of aluminum foil or parchment paper placed under the sides to keep the edges clean.  Then squeeze some of the lime juice over the first layer.  Scoop on a little over a cup of frosting.  Then place next layer on and squeeze juice over, adding the same amount of frosting as before.  Place the final layer on top, bottom side up.  Scoop the majority of the remaining frosting onto the top of the cake.  Using an offset spatula, move the frosting from the top to the sides of the cake.  Taking handfulls of the coconut, press it into the top and sides of the cake.  When finished, remove the strips of parchment paper/aluminum foil and brush away excess coconut.  Refrigerate the cake between three hours to overnight.


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About Madeleine C.

Hi I'm Madeleine and I am an avid cook and baker! Between school, homework swimming, and everything else in my life, I really enjoy cooking! I am 15 (now 16) years old, and have two brothers, both of whom have celiac disease along with my father. For this reason, I often make gluten-free things that will satisfy them as well as those who can readily consume gluten. I enjoy making the complex and the simple, and enjoy a challenge while cooking. That's just about it!