You need this Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake in your life! It’s:
- moist and fluffy
- sweet and creamy
- wonderfully coconutty!
Fun fact: my mum made me a coconut cake for my very first birthday. I imagine it was fluffy, rich and creamy and sweetly coconut-flavoured. This version here is just like that, except it also happens to be vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free! Magical, right?
I used my go-to sponge cake recipe for this cake. I love this recipe as it comes together easily in one bowl, doesn’t require any weird ingredients, and is versatile, too. You can use any type of oil, any type of liquid sweetener, and any type of plant-based milk.
You can also add coconut extract if you like, but I didn’t find it necessary. Plus, not many other recipes require coconut extract, so I didn’t want to buy it just for this cake only for it to never be used again. Instead, I used subtly fragrant vanilla and zippy lemon juice. Lemon juice also adds acidity, which reacts nicely with the alkali bicarbonate of soda to make the sponge fluffy.
For the frosting, I went with coconut whipped cream. If you’ve never tried this, you must! It’s wonderfully fluffy and just as rich and creamy as real whipped cream. If it’s your first time making it, make sure you read my recipe properly for tips and tricks for how to make this work.
Once you’ve got the sponge and the frosting done, all you need to do is put everything together and drown the whole thing in heaps of desiccated coconut.
You can use toasted coconut instead if you prefer, although if going down this route I’d definitely recommend using a frying pan on a low heat rather than the oven to toast your coconut. That way, you can stir it very regularly and make sure it doesn’t burn, which the oven seems to do really quickly without me realising.
Whilst this Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake can definitely be enjoyed all your round, it’s especially appropriate for this time of year as it can look wonderfully festive if you top it with some cute Christmas decorations!
I hope you’ll love this Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake! For more cakes, check out my:
- Matcha Strawberry Sponge Layer Cake
- Cherry Bakewell Cake
- Black Forest Cake
- Chocolate Mousse Cake
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
- Fig Upside Down Cake
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Helpful tools to make this Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake:
For the cake:
For the frosting:
This Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake is moist and fluffy, sweet and creamy and wonderfully coconutty!
- 60 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 200 ml (4/5 cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- Juice of 1 lemon*
- 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 150 g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds** (almond meal)
- 150 g (1 1/4 cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking power (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 400 g (14oz) tin of full-fat coconut milk***
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil)
- Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and ground almonds
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
- Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it's looking too dry
Transfer mixture between two small greased baking tins lined with baking paper (I used two 7inch/18cm baking tins)
- Bake in oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean
- Once out the oven, immediately remove cakes from baking tins and transfer onto a wire rack to cool
- You'll need to keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom. Make sure it is full fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won't happen and you won't be able to make this cream!
- Open the tin upside down - the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid (save this for adding to soups or smoothies)
- Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy
- Once the sponges have cooled completely, place one sponge on a large plate or cake stand, and cover with just less than half of the frosting
- Place other sponge on top and use remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake
- Cover the top and sides of the cake with the desiccated coconut
- Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days
*The lemon juice is crucial as its acidity needs to react with the alkali bicarbonate of soda to make the sponge fluffy. If you don't want to use lemon juice, substitute with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar instead
**You can alternatively use almond flour
***You can alternatively use 200g (7oz) coconut yogurt
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