Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake or Bibikkan displayed on a table.

Coconut Cake is so underrated and new to many of us, including myself. Coconut plays a huge part in my daily cooking. I use them in many forms in my cooking; starting from the Coconut oil, grated coconut, coconut milk, coconut vinegar and the list goes on. But until I tried my mother-in-law’s coconut cake, I never knew this type of cake existed, and now I am a huge fan of it.

Every time we go back home for holidays, my mother-in-law will cook up a storm for us. In the array of dishes she makes, this special Coconut Cake goes on repeat. She has a special cake box, that is placed right next to the dining table which definitely catches the eye of passers by. We walk by: munching on these treats throughout the day and the box keeps replenishing this cake like the Magic Porridge Pot.

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan cake slices on a plate.

With the New Year dawning on us, I wanted to make this special cake and you guessed it right, I went right to the source. I called my Mother-in-law and she happily shared her recipe with me. I modified the recipe for a small scale cake with some locally sourced ingredients such as Ontario Dark Maple Syrup, Vegan Butter etc. After few trials and test baking; voila – The Coconut Cake recipe is ready.

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan cake slices displayed on a table with white roses.

Using freshly grated Coconut works best for this recipe but it may not be accessible for all of us. So feel free to use the frozen grated coconut instead. But remember to thaw it for 2-3 hours on the counter, before you plan to prepare for this cake. If you are planning to use the Desiccated Coconut (Dried and unsweetened) then you might want to re-hydrate it with some water. But I would recommend the fresh or frozen coconut to achieve the optimal taste and texture of this cake.

Ingredients for the sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan.

First biggest step in making this cake is the Coconut sugar mixture aka Pani Pol. This starts off with caramelizing some sugar which is vital to achieve the deep hue of the cake.

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan Pani pol making in a all-clad saucepan.

Thereafter, all you will be doing is mixing in all the ingredients one by one and combining them well to make a smooth creamy batter.

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan Pani pol with dried fruits and nuts in an all-clad saucepan.

This cake does not require any mixing tools, a bowl and a whisk or a wooden spoon and a sauce pan is all that you need. Unlike other cakes, this cake need slow baking and that means you need to watch and bake, based on your oven setting. On a standard oven with temperature set to 350 F° or 180 C°: you will be baking for 1 hrs – 1.5 hrs or until fully done.

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan in wilton tray before and after baking.

One important lesson that I learned during my trials, is that you should avoid refrigerating this cake. As this is a Vegan cake, storing in the counter top will be good enough. It should be kept in an airtight container. If you must refrigerate; then do not forget to thaw it on the counter for a few hours before eating them. This cake also tastes it’s finest, a day after baking it. Do give this recipe a try and enjoy it with your loved ones. Happy New Year.

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan  cake on display.

Sri Lankan Coconut Cake / Bibikkan

Serves 8 – 10 | Prep-time 30 mins | Cook-time 75-90 mins

Ingredients :

  • 4 cups of Grated Coconut( 1 Medium Coconut).
  • 1 cup of Light Brown Sugar.
  • 1 cup of Dark Maple Syrup.
  • 1/2 cup of Vegan Butter.
  • 1 cup of pitted Dates.
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda.
  • 1 cup + 4 tablespoons Roasted Semolina.
  • 1 cup of Unbleached Flour.
  • 3/4 tablespoon of Baking powder.
  • 1/3 cup of Cashew nuts.
  • 1/4 cup of Raisins.
  • 2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract.
  • 3 Cloves.
  • 3 Cardamoms.
  • 1 inch Cinnamon.
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Nutmeg.
  • Pinch of Salt.
  • 1 1/4 cup of Water(divided).

Directions :

  • In a small bowl mix in the pitted Dates and Baking soda together, mix in the 1/4 cup of water and soak for 10 minutes.
  • Grate the Coconut and keep aside. If using frozen coconut, take it out of the freezer and thaw it until it comes to a texture that you can work with.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F° or 180 C°.
  • Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan with Vegan Butter, and line a parchment sheet to the bottom.
  • Sift the Flour and Baking powder together and keep aside.
  • Roast the Semolina for 4-5 minutes and keep aside.
  • Grind the spices- Clove, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg into a fine powder and keep aside.
  • Take a saucepan and add 5 tablespoons of Sugar and caramelize it.
  • Add the Maple Syrup and Coconut to the same sauce pan and mix well until combined for 5-6 minutes.
  • Now add the remainder of the Sugar, Butter, Salt to the mixture and complete the Sweet Coconut mixture.
  • Mix in the Vanilla extract, Dates, Raisins and Nuts into the mixture and combine well.
  • Transfer the Sweet Coconut Fruit mixture into a large bowl and fold in the roasted Semolina and mix well.
  • Add in the Flour and the Spice powder and combine well.
  • Finally add one cup of water, in portions and mix the batter evenly.
  • Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 60-90 minutes until skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Store the cake in an air tight container and keep on the counter top.

Notes :

  • Freshly grated coconut will work best for this cake. But previously frozen and thawed coconut will work fine too.
  • I have used Light Brown sugar in this recipe. Caramelizing the sugar in the beginning will give the cake a beautiful deep color.
  • I used Unbleached flour in this recipe as a personal choice, but all purpose, regular flour too will do the job.
  • Soaking the Dates with water + Baking Soda mixture will yield softer Dates and it will make it easier to fold into the cake batter.
  • I have used Ontario Dark Maple Syrup which also aides in the dark hue of this cake. Regular maple syrup or even honey can be used as replacement.
  • I have used Vegan Butter in this recipe, regular Butter will work fine too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *