Yuzu Coconut Cake With Caramelized Sugar Crust

July  8, 2020
Photo by Amanda Widis
Author Notes

This totally plant-based cake is a bit unusual in that it gets better as it sits—it has an incredibly moist crumb due to the olive oil and coconut milk, and over time, the crumb tightens up and absorbs the moisture. I find the flavor of the yuzu intensifies as well; if you try it warm (which is still delicious!), you’ll really taste the olive oil and coconut.

Over the first day as the cake sits, the olive oil flavor mellows and the citrus really shines. Yuzu is an exceptional citrus: delicate and more floral than most. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute a blend of lemon, lime, and orange, which will impart the same bright-yet-sweet citrus flavor. The step about sugaring the pan might seem strange if you’re used to buttering and flouring your cake pan, but trust me here. The sugar both helps to prevent the bundt from sticking and also creates a gorgeously crackly, caramelized crust on the finished cake.

The cake keeps beautifully at room temperature, but also freezes exceptionally well, so it’s a great option for a make-ahead dessert. Serve it plain, or with a scoop of ice cream (dairy or non-dairy!), or try topping it with a quick fruit compote—just cook some diced fruit (a tropical option like pineapple would be nice) with a little water, sugar, and a pinch of salt until soft and jammy. —Posie (Harwood) Brien

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Makes 1 large bundt cake
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup yuzu zest
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 can (14 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh yuzu juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-cup Bundt pan very well with baking spray; you can also grease it with butter or shortening but it’s much harder to get into all the nooks and crannies, which is important to prevent the cake from sticking. (I’ve had the most success using Everbake spray.) Sprinkle granulated sugar on the inside of the pan, turning it upside down and tapping to get rid of the excess. Try to sugar all the crevices.
  2. Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yuzu zest and, using your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant and well incorporated.
  3. Add the olive oil, coconut milk, yuzu juice, and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the shredded coconut, if using.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes (start checking as early as 50 minutes). The cake is done when it’s golden brown on top and a tester inserted into the middle comes out without any wet batter clinging to it.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven. Immediately run a small knife (I like an offset spatula) carefully around the top edges of the pan. Depending on how intricate the shape of your Bundt pan is, you won’t be able to get your knife in too far—just try and get in there a bit and encourage the loosening. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Don’t try to flip it any sooner or it’ll fall apart as it’s too hot, and don’t wait much longer or it will start to stick.
  8. After 15 minutes, place a wire rack over the pan and invert it to flip the cake out. Let cool, then eat! Note: This cake is much better the second (and third and fourth!) day and it freezes beautifully.

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • bhilz
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
  • judy
  • Leigh
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.