I am not a fan of coconut. I've tried to like it over the years, but just hadn't found anything with coconut that I enjoyed. Until this cake. I was determined to make a coconut cake that I loved, one without an artificial or overpowering flavor. This is THAT cake! It's probably one of the best cakes I've ever made - it's that good. Moist, fluffy and tender coconut lime cake made with lime zest, coconut milk, lightly toasted coconut and a small about of coconut extract just to oomph up that coconut flavor. Filled with a sweet tart lime curd, toasted coconut and crunchy graham cracker crumble, my coconut lime crumble cake is perfectly balanced, delicious and is the perfect summer cake.
This curd is seriously good enough to be eaten on its own. It's tart and sweet, creamy and thick, and pairs so well with the coconut lime cake. Lime curd is easy to prepare and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Egg yolks, a whole egg, sugar, salt, lime juice and zest are heated until thickened and creamy. Butter is added to help thicken the curd, add a little bit of richness and also make the curd silky smooth. Once the curd is chilled, it is ready to use.
Graham Cracker Crumble
The graham cracker crumble adds a layer of crunchiness to add texture to the cake with its creamy fillings. With the creamy buttercream and tart lime curd, the crumble adds an element to the cake that is reminiscent of key lime pie. Crushed graham crackers are mixed with melted butter, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and baked until golden brown and crunchy. Don't use finely crushed graham cracker crumbs. You want to make sure you are leaving some small pieces of graham cracker intact for some extra crunch and texture. Once the crumble is baked and cooled, break into larger pieces and toss with some of the toasted coconut. The crumble will be layered with the coconut buttercream and lime curd.
For this cake, I went to my go-to Swiss meringue buttercream as the base for my coconut buttercream. For a semi-naked 8" cake, 5" tall, you will only need a half of a batch of buttercream. To fill and completely frost a 8" cake, 5" tall, make ¾ of a batch or a full batch of Swiss meringue buttercream. Coconut cream and a small amount of coconut extract gives the buttercream it's creamy coconut flavor. Use as much or as little coconut extract as you like. Be careful adding too much though, because adding too much will give you that suntan lotion/artificial coconut flavor.
How to make coconut lime crumble cake
I typically bake my cakes in two pans then torte (cut in half), but you can divide the batter between 3 pans if you like. For a 6" cake, make a half batch of the batter. This coconut lime cake uses coconut milk, coconut extract and lime zest for flavor.
Butter is mixed into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Mixing the butter into the dry ingredients coats the flour, preventing too much gluten formation. Then, a small amount of the milk mixture is added, just until the dry ingredients are *just* moistened and the mixture is beaten on medium-high for two full minutes until lightened in color, and thick like soft-serve ice cream. This mixing is crucial as it helps to form the structure of your cake. The remaining wet ingredients are added in three parts. The cake batter will be a bit on the thicker side.
You will also notice, a scale is required for this recipe. Scratch cakes can be tricky to make sometimes, and the baking science is very important in the making and baking of scratch cake. We need cakes to be consistent in taste and texture, and bake up with no problems – no sinking, no overflowing, no rubbery layers, etc. A scale is key in getting consistent results. I use this one from Amazon. This recipe will not work if you convert it to volume (cups) measurements.
If you make this coconut lime crumble cake let me know! Drop a comment or tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your creations.
For more layer cake recipes, check out these posts:
Strawberry Rose Buttermilk Cake
Earl Grey Cake with Honey Buttercream and Blackberry Caramel
Banana Cake with Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter Buttercream
Chocolate Stout Cake with Coffee Irish Cream Buttercream
Coconut Lime Crumble Cake
- 3 large (42g) egg yolks
- 1 large (50g) egg
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (76g) fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
Graham Cracker Crumble
- ¾ cup (107g) graham cracker crumbs (about 4 ¼ graham cracker sheets)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- pinch of fine sea salt
- ¼ cup (22g) coconut, sweetened, flaked
Coconut Lime Cake
- 14 ounces (396g) cake flour
- 14 ounces (397g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons lime zest
- 8 ounces (255g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 3 ounces (85g) canola oil
- 12 ounces (341g) unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- ½-3/4 cup (43g-64g) toasted coconut, sweetened, flaked
- ½ batch Swiss meringue buttercream (Omitting vanilla)
- ¼ cup (74g) coconut cream, unsweetened
- ¼ teaspoon coconut extract
Toast the coconut.
- Place the coconut for both the streusel and the cake a in a large skillet.
- Cook over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until the flakes are mostly golden brown. Because the coconut is sweetened, it will toast quickly.
- Set aside to cool completely.
Make the lime curd.
- Combine the sugar and lime zest into a bowl. Rub the mix between your hands to release the oils of the zest.
- Add the egg and egg yolks to the sugar mixture and whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Add the lime juice and whisk to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a medium sauce pan, and place over a medium low heat. Add the butter. Stir continuously to keep the mixture moving so your eggs don't scramble.
- Cook the curd until thick and just beginning to bubble, or until an instant read thermometer reaches 170F. The curd will thicken more in the refrigerator.
- Take the curd off of the heat and whisk in the butter. Strain the curd into a clean shallow bowl, and let it sit until it reaches room temperature.
- Cool completely in the refrigerator before using.
Make the graham cracker crumble.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, melt the butter in the microwave, about 30-45 seconds.
- Whisk in the brown sugar.
- Add the graham cracker crumbs to the bowl and stir to coat.
- Pour out the streusel onto the parchment paper.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the crumble cool.
- Sprinkle ¼ of the toasted coconut over the crumble. Stir to mix, breaking up some of the larger crumbs.
Make the coconut lime cake.
- Prepare your cake pans. Brush the bottoms and sides of your cake pans with melted butter. Line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper.
- Combine the coconut milk, oil, eggs, coconut extract and vanilla in medium bowl. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Pour 40z/113g of the wet ingredients into a separate mixing cup.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lime zest. On low speed, mix for 1 minute.
- With the mixer still running, add in the softened butter pieces, one or two pieces at a time. Mix until the mixture resembles cornmeal. You should be able to gather a bit in your hand, squeeze and you have a solid piece. This means the butter is evenly distributed.
- With the mixer still on low, pour in the 4oz of liquid and mix until the flour mixture is moistened.
- Turn the mixer speed to medium (4 or 6) and whip for *two full* minutes. The mixture should be whipped up, thick, and lighter in color.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is properly mixed.
- With the mixer speed on low, add the remaining wet ingredients in three parts, scraping down the bowl after each addition has been mixed in.
- Once all the wet ingredients have been added, give the bowl a final scrape and mix with a spatula. Fold in the ½ cup of toasted coconut.
- Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans.
- Bake the layers for 35-45 minutes. Check the cake at 30-35 minutes to test for doneness. If a toothpick comes out clean, and the top of the cake feels springy and set when touched, take the cakes out.
- Tap the cake once, firmly against the counter to remove excess steam. If your cakes dome at all, use a clean kitchen towel to gently push the domes down. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes in the pans.
- Run a palette or butter knife around the cakes in their pans before turning them out to cool completely on cooling racks.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator a couple hours.
Make the coconut buttercream.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the coconut cream at little at a time, coconut extract and prepared Swiss meringue buttercream.
- Mix on low until everything is incorporated and the buttercream is smooth.
Assemble the coconut lime crumble cake.
- Work with chilled cake layers. Using a long serrated knife torte the layers, cutting them evenly in half. You will have four cake layers total. The tops of the cakes will be the center two layers of your cake. If you made your cake in 3 pans, skip this step.
- Put one of the cake layers, cut side up onto an 8" cake board or directly onto a cake stand.
- Spread a thin, even layer of the butter on the cake layer with an offset spatula. Pipe a rim (or dam) of buttercream around the edge of the cake layer.
- Spread about ⅓ to ½ cup of the lime curd over the cake.
- Sprinkle the graham cracker streusel on top of the curd. Pat into place.
- Spread about one cup of the buttercream on top of the curd/crumble using an offset spatula to evenly distribute the buttercream. You're looking for the buttercream to be about ¼ inch thick.
- Place the second cake layer on top, top up, and press down gently so that the layer is adhered to the buttercream. Repeat steps 3-6.
- Place the third cake layer on top, top up, and press down gently so that the layer is adhered to the buttercream. Repeat steps 3-6.
- Place final cake layer on top and frost with the remaining buttercream. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Slice into pieces and serve.
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