Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps cakes rise. Cakes that don’t call for baking powder, or some other leavening agent, are typically cheese- or milk-based. Cheesecake doesn’t require baking powder, but many cheesecake recipes call for vanilla extract. Likewise, a well-made angel food cake gets its lightness from multiple flour and sugar siftings rather than from a leavening agent, but it too calls for vanilla extract. Some nontraditional cakes, such as the sweet rice and potato cakes prevalent in Asian cultures, don’t use baking powder or vanilla extract. To bake a quick, classic cake without baking powder, use self-rising flour.
Creamy Coconut Cake
Grease the bottoms and sides of two 8-inch round cake pans with unsalted butter. Dust the buttered pans lightly and thoroughly with flour. Flip each pan and gently tap out any extra flour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash and dry one lime. Finely zest the entire peel into a small bowl.
Beat together 3/4 cup unsalted, room-temperature butter, 3 tablespoons room-temperature creamed coconut, 3/4 cup superfine sugar and the lime zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Mix until pale and creamy.
Beat in the 3 eggs, one at a time.
Pour 1 cup self-rising flour into a sifter, and sift it over the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Fold the sifted flour in gently.
Stir 3/4 cup shredded coconut into the batter with a wooden spoon.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pans in equal portions. Use the back of the wooden spoon to spread it evenly.
Set the pans on the oven’s center rack. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in their pans for about 10 minutes before carefully turning them out onto the cooling racks.
Zesty Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat together 8 ounces room-temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar and 1 tablespoon lime juice in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined.
Place one completely cooled cake on a large plate. Spread slightly less than half of the frosting across the top and down the sides of the layer.
Center the second fully cooled cake on top of the first and cover it with the remaining frosting.