Lemon and Coconut Loaf Cakes
Lemon Cakes with Flowers by Dena T BrayⒸ

This past weekend, friends came to dinner after a romantic getaway to Miami Beach. Fresh, relaxed, and full of stories, their good times warmed the evening with sunshine. I wanted to create a dinner that would extend the vacation memories for them, so I prepared this Lemon and Coconut Loaf Cake for dessert. This light confection is filled with  tropical tastes and textures. Fresh lemon juice and olive oil make it extremely moist. Toasted coconut and roasted pine nuts are hidden within to add both a smoky flavor and unexpected crunch with every bite. We served it with a bit of mango sorbet, fresh fruit and coffee, lingering at the table bit longer than usual to soak up the joy of their trip and their friendship.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Lemon Cakes on White Background by Dena T BrayⒸ


Yield: 2 One Pound Cakes, About 12 slices


  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup whole blanched almonds or pine nuts
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup lemon marmalade
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For soaking syrup:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice plus a bit of water, as needed

For serving:

  • Fruit sorbet, homemade yogurt or whipped cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the coconut and almond or pine nuts on sheet pans with raised sides. Roast in the oven until golden.  The coconut should take about 5 minutes, the nuts 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, but leave the oven on.
  3. When cool enough to handle, grind the almonds or pine nuts into large chunks.
  4. Grease 2 loaf pans with olive oil and line with parchment paper.*
  5. In a large bowl or standing mixer, beat together the olive oil, lemon juice, applesauce marmalade and eggs until combined. Add the sugar and beat until it is fully incorporated.
  6. In a small bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir just enough to combine. Mix in ¾ cup of the roasted coconut flakes and all of the almonds or pine nuts.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans. Bake until the top of the cake becomes golden and a skewer inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  8. While the cake is in the oven, prepare the soaking syrup by putting the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil, then remove from heat. (Add a little water if the syrup thickens.)
  9. When the cakes come out of the oven, prick them a few times with the tines of a fork. Pour the prepared syrup over the cakes and brush the tops with a pastry brush to assure the syrup is evenly distributed.
  10. All to cool completely. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup roasted coconut flakes.
  11. Serve with alone or with sorbet, Homemade Yogurt, or whipped cream and fresh fruit. In summer, serve with Strawberries Marinated in Honey and Wine.


  1. This is a very sticky cake. Lining the pans with parchment paper will help with cleanup.
  2. This recipe was adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Amongst other changes, their recipe calls for orange juice and orange marmalade in place of the lemon juice and lemon marmalade.

Pink Daisy and Lemons by Dena T BrayⒸ
Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.