It isn’t often that I sit back on the couch on a lazy morning, armed with a cup of Earl Grey Tea, and rip open my subscription copy of Gourmet Magazine, turn a page or two and jump right back up and head to the kitchen to bake. The recipe that inspired immediate action? A Key Lime and Toasted Coconut Cake. I am always on the lookout for recipes that might work well with local produce and ingredients, and if you are a long-time visitor of this blog, you will know one of my food obsessions is dayap. I once made a dayap pie that was superb albeit INTENSELY flavored, and I like dayap in leche flan, and I thought dayap in a cake might be brilliant, and, well, it is. Thank you Gourmet for the wonderful recipe, here, and I highly recommend this simple and delicious cake. But using our native dayap (or key limes if you live in the U.S.), not green lemons or regular large limes, is utterly essential the first time you try this recipe.
The recipe is simple enough, but here are some tips, particularly if you are trying this in the Philippines. I made a double recipe as I wanted a big cake and several cupcakes to give away. Start with cool butter, beat it vigorously with the sugar until well blended. Since local large eggs aren’t U.S. grade large eggs, I threw in an extra eggyolk for richness. Lower your oven temperature to 330-340F, not the 350F stated in the recipe. Measure your dayap juice to the amounts specified; use unblemished zest, and it doesn’t have to reach a tablespoon worth (per recipe)… I found that difficult to do since dayaps are such rare and precious commodities in Makati, it seems. Use whole milk, UHT okay, but NOT evaporated milk. Replicate self-rising flour by adding baking powder and salt to your flour before sifting. Look up self-rising flour substitutes on google.
A couple of other notes. I thought, somewhat cheekily, that my cake looked better than Gourmet’s. It had a nicer color of toasted coconut (which if you follow their instructions, yields TOASTED coconut), not the pale shreds they have in their magazine or website photos. Also, the edge of the cake will brown or turn golden, and I cooked the cake 5-8 minutes shorter than instructed! If you want to minimize browning, put the cake on a cookie sheet before placing it on the middle oven shelf.
Glaze the cake while it is still warm and sprinkle the rest of the toasted coconut on top. I loved this cake. It was denser than those store-bought cakes, with the piquant flavor of dayap and the sweetness of sugar and coconut. It had a nice texture as well. Mrs. MM practically hates dessicated or sweetened coconut so this wasn’t a big hit with her, but I really liked this cake and wonder why there isn’t a local restaurant I have dined at recently that offers an array of homey desserts such as this one that feature spectacular local ingredients. I found that the cake paired nicely with a cup of Earl Grey tea, probably due to the citrusy bergamot flavor of the latter.
This was definitely worth the price of the March issue of Gourmet Magazine. And I am thrilled to have this recipe on file for the next time I have lots of dayap in the house. Oh, and the cupcakes disappeared so fast I forgot to take a photo of them! :)