October 13, 2022


I recently made two cakes for the Tea Garden at an event here in France; a caramel apple cake and this lime and coconut cake.  With my cookbooks all safely under dust sheets because of the ongoing building work I looked to the internet for ideas and spotted this recipe on the Carnation website.

Once the mixture was made I tasted it and thought it was not very sweet.  I looked at the recipe and noticed that it contained no sugar.  "How very odd" I thought.  The recipe must be wrong!

I Googled other recipes for lime and coconut cake and saw that they all contained sugar.  In fact sugar is surely a principal ingredient of all cakes.  The recipe had loads of complimentary reviews, no mention of sugar.  So I decided to add some.  Thinking that evaporated milk is itself slightly sweet I just added 100g.

In accordance with my recent lightbulb moment regarding the conundrum of giving away cakes made to an untried recipe I made a couple of muffins with a spoonful of the mixture.  They tasted good, a nice flavour of lime with a hint of coconut, just as I would expect, moist and with a nice even crumb, which confirmed my conclusion that the recipe on the internet must be wrong and the sugar had been omitted.  The lime flavoured icing was delicious.

It wasn't until I looked at the recipe again for writing up the blog post that I realised my mistake........I should have used condensed milk, not evaporated milk, condensed milk being an already sweetened product.  No wonder the recipe contained no actual sugar!  I can't believe I did that but brain fog has been a feature of my life so far this year!  

In the words of René Artois from "Allo, allo":  "you stoopid wooman!!"

The cake sold well, every slice devoured, so I leave it up to you whether you make it with evaporated milk or condensed milk.  I will add this cake to my tweaking list and try the condensed product myself next time!

(You can buy tinned condensed milk everywhere in France and I think also evaporated milk, sold as an addition for coffee, although I haven't tried it.  I brought mine from the UK in the pre-Brexit days when that was allowed.)

A word here about zesters.

The above is a microplane grater or zester.  It will give you very finely grated zest such as would be ideal for incorporating into cake mixtures and other recipes.  Flecks of the zest are not usually visible.  They are extremely sharp and you have to be very careful not to brush your hand over it as they will easily remove a layer of skin.  They can be quite expensive but a worthwhile investment if you want to get fine, almost powdery, zest.
This is a lemon zester.  It will give you strips or strands of peel that are good for decorating a cake or dessert.  Until I invested in a microplane grater this was all I ever used as I didn't mind the visible strips of zest in a cake.  They are quite cheap and available in most supermarkets.


For the cake

175g softened butter or baking spread

3 large eggs, beaten

55g desiccated coconut

zest of 2 limes

175g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

250g evaporated milk*

100g caster sugar*

For the icing and decoration

100g icing sugar, sifted

juice of 2 limes

as sprinkling of desiccated coconut

strands of lime zest (optional)**


Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan / gas mk 3.  Butter a 900g / 2lb loaf tin and line the base with a strip of baking paper, or use a paper liner.

Put all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and using a hand held electric whisk beat together until pale and creamy.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, level the top and bake for 50-60 minutes.  If the top is looking brown before the middle is cooked, cover with a piece of baking paper or foil.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with enough of the lime juice to make a thick pouring consistency and drizzle imaginatively over the cake.

Sprinkle coconut over the cake for decoration.  If using an extra lime, scatter strips of lime zest over the cake.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.

*instead of evaporated milk and sugar use 250g condensed milk

**if using the extra lime to create the topping it occurred to me that you could drizzle the juice from it over the cake before icing it.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's perfectly understandable to confuse condensed and evaporated milk based on the fact that I've done the same thing myself. Lime and coconut are a certain winner with me.
    I bought two genuine, costly microplane graters some years ago and the handles have now snapped off both of them so I've replaced them with cheaper alternatives and, so far, they're working fine.