Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cake

‘Lighter’ coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cake recipe! For the cake challenge! :)

Cake challenges, Special everyday cakes and treats

A tres leches cake should be pretty easy to make, right?  A sponge drizzled with three kinds of milk (tres leches) and left in the fridge to absorb them and become a deliciously moist treat!   Hmm, will tell you about the ‘issues’ later!  My dream was to create a healthier hybrid tres-leches-come-lime-drizzle cake with a little citrus zing to it.  Then things got out of hand and the cake just went tropical:  a piña colada cake with lime!  After some testing, tweaking and hair tearing in the kitchen lab, tada!  You too can experience the lovely exotic flavours of a Coconut, lime, pineapple and rum tres leches cake, with ‘lighter’ milks:  coconut cream, almond milk and oatmilk!  Go ahead and try some while I collapse quietly in a happy heap in the corner! 🙂

Piña colada and lime tres leches cake

Piña colada and lime tres leches cake

And to get into the mood you can watch Rupert Holmes sing Escape, his classic Piña colada songI like piña colada and getting caught in the rain, I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne!  Ah the 70s, cheesy videos and dancing ladies! 🙂

Piña colada and lime tres leches cake

Piña colada and lime tres leches cake

Issues with a tres leches cake!Yes, issues!  I have this strange attachment to making multi-layered French cakes and can spend hours playing with puff pastry but have so much trouble baking a decent cupcake, simple sponge cake or … yes, a tres leches cake!

I was obsessed with trying to achieve Chef Ruben’s amazingly airy tres leches sponge.  That was my first mistake:  the finer the sponge, the worse my tres leches cake got!  I had hit upon using a recipe where the egg whites are super stiff beaten with sugar then the rest folded in.  Tres leches egg whites for the spongeThen I discovered this fine sponge didn’t soak in the milks very well, staying disappointingly dry.  The ‘genoise’ technique plus baking powder also meant an excessive super-soufflé style rise!  So I eliminated the baking powder and used granulated sugar to create a flatter sponge with pores that would welcome in the milks!  Come in my little milks! (that’s the new unimproved sponge speaking).  Ironically I made the sponge less fluffy and light.Tres leches cake batterI also had to work on balancing out the strong taste of coconut cream, so put less in and more lime juice. Then the first ‘tropical’ prototype lacked warmth so next time I added a few tablespoons of rum.  Yo ho ho!  And yum yum yum!  🙂

A slice of tropical tres leches cake?

A slice of tropical tres leches cake?

Will explain how I ended up with a ‘naked’ cake later.  After which of course I had to work on a topping.  I tell you, I need a nice little break with some French patisserie after this challenge!   But it worked out in the end! 🙂

The recipe

Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cake

Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cake

DAY ONE – bake and soak cake. Make the pineapple flowers (optional)


  • Butter and flour your 20cm (8inch) round cake tin with a loose removable base (springform).
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (static, non-convection oven) or 160°C (fan-assisted oven) – bake 30 to 40 minutes.



  • 4 medium-sized egg whites (about 140-145g)
  • 125g/a half cup plus 1 and a half tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 medium-sized egg yolks – beaten
  • a quarter to half teaspoon pure vanilla essence (optional)
  • 125g/1 cup good-quality cake flour or plain/all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt

Lime drizzle syrup

  • 50g/2 generous tablespoons honey
  • 40g/3 tbsp water
  • 80g/5 to 6 tbsp lime juice (about 2 or 3 limes)

Soaking milk

  • 100g/6 tbsp coconut cream
  • 165g/three quarters of a cup oatmilk
  • 165g/three quarters of a cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or more, to taste!

Topping (optional):  1 avocado, 4 tablespoons coconut cream, juice and zest of 1 lime OR

For an alternative white topping:  60 to 70g quark (or 3 to 4 tablespoons), juice and zest of 1 lime and three quarters tablespoon maple syrup or more, to taste.  Add a few tablespoons coconut cream, to taste.

Decoration (optional):  1 pineapple and about 4 or 5 glacé cherries cut in half

Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cakeMethod


  • Whisk the egg whites till almost firm, by hand or on a stand mixer.
  • Gradually whisk in the sugar till you have a very firm meringue.  By hand you’ll need more time to whisk.
  • Fold in the egg yolks, gently with figure of eight movements and a rubber spatula or metal spoon with holes.  Add the vanilla essence if using and lime zest.
  • Fold in the sifted flour (whisked with the salt to combine) in two goes or little by little.  Don’t overwork.
  • Fold in the lime juice.
  • When just combined pour gently into your cake mould.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes (don’t open the oven for the first 30 minutes).  The cake is ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean and when the top springs back a little when it’s pressed lightly with a finger.genoise spongeLime drizzle syrup and three milks mixture

  1. While your cake is baking bring the water and honey to a boil.
  2. Add the lime juice and boil one more minute.
  3. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
  4. Whisk together the coconut cream, almond milk and oatmilk then add the lime juice and rum.
  5. Place the bowl in the fridge till required.

Soaking the sponge!

  1. After the cake has cooled 10 minutes make holes all over the cake with a skewer or cake tester.  Apparently, the more holes the better.  So to make sure I didn’t get a dry cake I got quite carried away.  genoise sponge with holes!
  2. Put the cake and wire rack over a tray or big dish to catch any milk, then pour or spoon the milk and lime mixture slowly over the cake. Genoise sponge submerged in milk!
  3. Wait for the liquid to soak through, and open up the cake tin at the side to loosen and allow the liquid down into the tray below.soaking in the milk
  4. Pour the liquid from the tray below into a big bowl and then pour it again over the cake.
  5. Repeat the process one more time (three or four times in total).
  6. There should be less liquid going through now.  But I took the bottom of the tin off the cake and found it still felt dry, so I poured a little liquid over the bottom too!  upside-down
  7. This is how I ended up with a ‘naked’ top, because when I turned it back around, a lot of it had stuck on the wire rack.  Oops.  That’s when I decided to do a topping!naked milky genoise
  8. Leave the cake in airtight tupperware in the fridge overnight (or a minimum of four hours).


  1. If making a topping, use three quarters of a pineapple to make dried pineapple flowers for decoration (recipe at Angie’s Fiesta Friday blog).  Keep a quarter to chop up and sprinkle on top of the cake.
  2. Whisk together your ingredients to make either the Avocado or White topping.  Pass through a sieve if slightly lumpy.   Store in the fridge to firm up till the next day.

Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cakeDAY TWO – add the topping! (optional) 

Once your tres leches cake has soaked overnight

1.  Spread the avocado coconut cream or white topping over the cake.  Avocado topping2.  Artistically place the chopped pineapple you prepared the previous day.Avocado and pineapple topping3.  Add the pineapple flowers and some half cherries to brighten up the cake!piña colada and lime tres leches cakeFinally, check whether your tres leches cake is nice and moist like it should be!!  And bring it to our tres leches cake challenge where you’ll see such a beautiful array of diverse tres leches cakes!  🙂  Or even to party at Fiesta Friday hosted by the indefatiguable Angie@thenovice gardener with her co-hosts Justine @ Eclectic odds n sods and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.  Then if you love this cocktail combo, check out Kitchen Spell’s recipe for piña colada cupcakes!Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cakeAs I gaze at my colourful photos I do realise this might be the tackiest cake I’ve ever made, and I do wonder whether it needs more tweaking but I’m quite proud of it!  🙂  It’s quite in keeping with the song and you can almost imagine you’re lying on a beach with your piña colada as you bite into this light and moist Coconut, lime, pineapple and rum tres leches cake!  Feel that sunkissed breeze.

Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cake

Have a slice of tropical with some piña colada tres leches cake! 🙂

Coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cake

And let’s just pour a little extra tres leches milk over your slice! 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed our little outing to the land of cocktails sweet reader.  Happy baking, eating and moving to a tropical beat!  May you have a lovely week and weekend in a paradise of your own making!  🙂 x

P.S.  Avocado or white topping next time?  Hmm…  Actually I think I might go for a more classic cake which involves cream!!!  I have loads of recipes to choose from now, with all the delicious entries to the Tres Leches challenge here. 🙂

Posted by

Baking on Sundays with my French mum was a lovely part of my childhood. Later I experimented with baking books or internet recipes and did the pâtisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Still trying out new recipes and inventing cakes with influences from all around the world, including some healthier ones. Yes, love cakes!!! Hope you'll love them too and have fun baking. :)

45 thoughts on “‘Lighter’ coconut, pineapple, lime and rum tres leches cake recipe! For the cake challenge! :)”

    • Thank you Chef Julianna! 😉 Yes, Angie’s pineapple flowers are really great! 🙂


  1. Pingback: How to Help Your Human Bake a Cake: A Guide for Dogs | Albert's New York

  2. I’ve never had tres leches cake before and I’ve meaning to make some. This looks too perfect, Lili. Those pineapple flowers with cherries are so beautiful. I might give tres leches a try in the future. Thanks for sharing and have a great time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jhuls for the lovely comments! Yes, Angie’s pineapple flowers are so pretty on top of cakes! 🙂 I hope you do get to try a tres leches cake in the future. It’s an amazing cake and there’s some lovely recipes now on the challenge page… I’m finding the more traditional whipped cream versions very tempting and also the healthy coconut oil one! 🙂 Thank you again for co-hosting and Happy FF! 🙂 x


  3. I love the toppings on your cake! So cute! Although, the whole thing looks delicious as well. Thank you for sharing! Happy FF, and have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kaila for your lovely comments and you’re very welcome! 🙂 Have a continuing great FF and weekend too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. omg This is one gorgeous looking cake and the ingredients in it is making me drool – coconut milk and almond milk and then you added avocado cream and pineapple. Btw those pineapple flowers are absolutely amazing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Indu for your lovely comments! Yes, Angie’s pineapple flowers are lovely and I’m glad you’re enjoying the cake!! 🙂 Have a lovely week! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Judi! Yes, the cake has a lot of potential though I do wonder if further research is required.. 🙂 And Angie’s flowers do give it a lovely touch… I agree. Makes you wonder what else you could put those flowers on! 🙂


  5. Pingback: Week (16) of cakes and baking with friends :) | lili's cakes

    • Thank you Marianne for your lovely comments! Yes, the pineapple flowers might be my favourite part and reappear on another cake one day! 🙂 Nice to hear from you again, Lili


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.