Traditional Sri Lankan coconut cake, or bibikkan, is a classic sweet typically made for New Year’s celebrations. These vegan sweet goodies are loaded with cashews, dates, and raisins and make the best addition to your next tea party.
1 hr 40 min
2 hr 28 min
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour (155 g)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
3 whole green cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
3 oz kithul jaggery (55 g), (about ½ cup packed),shaved or chopped
3 ½ cups freshly shredded coconut (350 g), drained
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 lime, zested
10 oz pitted dates (250 g), roughly chopped into 1/4 in (6 mm) pieces
2 oz raisin (55 g)
2 oz crystallized ginger (55 g), finely chopped
3 oz raw cashews (85 g), roughly chopped into 1/4 in (6 mm) pieces
½ cup semolina (60 g)
16 halves raw cashews, optional
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking dish with parchment paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder together into a medium bowl.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, dry toast the fennel seeds, cardamom pods, and cloves until the fennel seeds start to brown. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and grind into a powder. Discard the outer shell of the cardamom pods.
Heat a large, high-walled pan over medium heat. Add the kithul jaggery and 1½ cups of coconut treacle. Stir until the jaggery dissolves and combines with the treacle, 8-10 minutes. Add the shredded coconut, mix well, and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the treacle starts to simmer.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the lime zest, salt, vanilla, dates, raisins, ginger, cashews, and ground spices. Mix well to combine. Add the semolina, a little at a time, and mix well to incorporate. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
Add the flour and baking powder mixture, a little at a time, and mix well to combine.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula.
Bake the cake for 50 minutes, until golden brown on the top.
Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C). Pour the remaining ¼ cup of coconut treacle over the cake and spread with a pastry brush. Arrange the cashew halves, if using, on the top.
Return the cake to the oven and bake for 20–30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few fudgy crumbs attached.
Let the bibikkan cool to room temperature, then cut into 16 squares and transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for 1–2 days before serving for the best flavor.