Totally Tropical Cake

I'm not big into drinking fizzy soda's. I still think of them as a treat, a throwback to my childhood days when fizzy drinks were always considered a treat reserved for birthdays and Christmas. But the one fizzy drink that I do hanker after, even as a should-know-better adult, is Lilt.

Totally Tropical Cake

I’m not big into drinking fizzy soda’s. I still think of them as a treat, a throwback to my childhood days when fizzy drinks were always considered a treat reserved for birthdays and Christmas. But the one fizzy drink that I do hanker after, even as a should-know-better adult, is Lilt.

With it’s “Totally Tropical Taste” trio of flavours: lemon, lime and pineapple, I just felt it offered a little more sophistication than it’s rivals. Plus the jingle was really, really catchy and impossible to repeat without a very, very bad Jamaican accent. This cake, then, is a celebration of a taste of childhood that I’ll never probably grow out of – and I really don’t mind that at all!

Totally Tropical Cake
Totally Tropical Cake

I have “adulted” up this cake a bit though. This is my well-worn euphemism for “I have added alcohol to this recipe” – you’ll find it cropping up quite a lot in my recipe writing, especially in desserts. If you have little darlings of your own, simply leave it out. Alternatively, make one exactly like this for you and give the kids fresh pineapple and ice cream instead. Sorted!

This is a flourless cake but isn’t gluten free as it contains semolina. If you wanted to make it completely gluten free, you could use entirely ground almonds or substitute the semolina for rice flour. Although rice flour is drying, you will be pouring a small vat of syrup over the whole cake which should amply make up for it.

A note on Pineapples: at the time of writing, Pineapples are in season in the Caribbean, so in autumn this is where we get our juicy fruits from. However, the destruction in The Bahama’s following Hurricane Dorian will not doubt have an impact on supply, and anyway, given that so many have lost so much, I would advocate keeping as much food grown in the Caribbean for the Caribbean people so they can actually feed themselves. So, on that sobering note, if you have a tin of Pineapple lingering in the back of your cupboard, use that instead of buying a fresh one. Keep the juice when you drain them, and make a cocktail out of it using white rum, lemon, lime and soda water and raise a toast to those who are a lot less comfortable than we are right now.

Totally Tropical Cake

Ingredients (serves 8-10 depending on slice size, and I’m not judging!):

For the cake batter

  • 225 g butter (unsalted)
  • 225 g golden caster sugar
  • 6 free range eggs, separated (keep both the yolks and whites)
  • 115 g semolina (or gf substitute)
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 75 g desiccated coconut (plus a little extra for garnish)
  • Zest of 2 limes and 2 lemon
  • 150 ml Pineapple Juice (ideally not from concentrate)
  • 1 whole fresh Pineapple, or equivalent tinned product (chunks)

For the syrup

  • Juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon
  • Dash pineapple juice
  • 50 ml white Caribbean Rum
  • 125 g white sugar


  • Butter a 23cm/9-inch round spring-form cake tin.
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees fan.
  • Prepare the pineapple and cut into equally sized chunks.
  • Lightly caramelise in a dry frying pan, and then (if feeling confident, and safe!), flambe in a good glug of White Rum. Cook off the alcohol and take off the heat. Add to the buttered cake pan and distribute evenly.
  • Put the butter and caster sugar into a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beat well to combine.
  • Add in the semolina, ground almonds, lemon and lime zest, and pineapple juice and mix well together.
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Take one spoon of egg white and beat it into the cake batter. Then add the remaining egg whites, folding in gently to combine, keeping the air in.
  • Bake in the oven for about 1 hour. Check with a skewer to see if cooked – it may need longer or less depending on the mix of flours used in the cake batter. If the skewer comes out clean it’s cooked.
  • Allow to cool slightly in the cake tin while you prepare your syrup.
  • Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, heat gently until sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the lemon, lime and pineapple juice and bring to the boil for a few minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the rum, stir, turn off the heat and set aside.
  • Release the cake from the cake tin and place on a plate. Using the skewer, prick the whole cake over to allow for the syrup to seep down into the cake.
  • Gently spoon over the syrup. Take your time doing this, don’t rush and try to get as much of the syrup on and into the cake as possible. If you have some left, decant into a clean jar and cool. This will make a lovely syrup to pour over ice cream or into a cocktail at a later time!
  • Finally, toast a few specks of desiccated coconut in a dry pan and then scatter all across the top of the drenched cake.
  • Serve a slice of the cake with either Whipped Coconut Cream (find the recipe here), thick pouring or whipped cream, or just naked!
Totally Tropical Cake


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