Tapioca Coconut Cake Recipe

This is my version of a cake created by Damien 'Big D' D'Silva, a linebacker of a chef, who appeared on my TV show Simply Ming. His cake featured pearl tapioca, whose wonderful texture I love.

The pearls are clearly visible in both of our versions, suspended in a cooked egg mixture. I've kicked things up, though, by flavoring the cake with coconut and lime and serving it with papaya. This makes a unique dessert, one I urge you to try.

To cut parchment paper for lining the baking pan, put the pan bottom on a sheet of the paper. With a pen or pencil, draw around the bottom, then cut out the circle about 1/8 inch in from the line. After baking, the cake will seem unset, but will become firm when refrigerated.

Also read: Ming Tsai's Turkey Recipe Involves Tea Smoke. How About Yours?

Tapioca Coconut Cake Recipe
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  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup small-pearl tapioca
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cans (about 14 ounces each) unsweetened coconut milk
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 papaya
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  1. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch springform cake pan (see tip above). Grease the bottom and the sides of the pan with the butter.
  2. Place the parchment paper in the pan and grease with butter. Add the sugar and tilt the pan to coat the sides evenly.
  3. Make the pudding: Put the tapioca in a medium bowl and add cold water to cover it. Let the tapioca to soak for 1 hour. Drain the tapioca in a large strainer, rinse well under tepid running water and set aside in the strainer.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, brown sugar, coconut milk and salt and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  5. Add the tapioca, stir, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring, until the tapioca is translucent but still slightly raw at the centre, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Pour the pudding into a medium sheet pan, add the lime juice and zest and stir to combine. Let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a large bowl.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and yolks and whisk until just blended. Pour the eggs over the tapioca, fold to combine, and pour into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake until the cake is golden brown in spots and still jiggly in the center, 35–40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, then refrigerate in the pan for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  9. In a medium bowl, combine the papaya and lime juice and zest. Remove the pan ring, place a serving plate on the cake and invert.
  10. Remove the pan bottom, peel off the paper, cut the cake into wedges and serve with the papaya.
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