You need this Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake in your life! It’s moist and fluffy, sweet and creamy and wonderfully coconutty! It’s made in one bowl, is easily customisable and is refined sugar free too. Perfect for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, baby showers and bridal showers!!
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?
Where does the coconut flavour in this Coconut Cake come from?
You can add coconut extract to this cake 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 chose to use desiccated coconut and coconut whipped cream for coconut flavour.
You can use toasted desiccated coconut 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 can be harder to do in the oven, which can burn it very quickly!
Can you use coconut flour for this Coconut Cake?
You can also get coconut flavour by using coconut flour in the sponge. But be careful with the amounts! To do this, you can replace the ground almonds (almond meal) with 30g (1/4 cup) coconut flour instead of 150g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds.
How to make this Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Mix together all the ingredients in a glass mixing bowl.
Tip: Use a measuring jug to measure out the plant-based milk.
- Transfer into two 18 cm / 7 inch sandwich baking tins.
Tip: Line the tins with greased baking paper to make the sponges easier to remove afterwards.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Transfer onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before applying the frosting.
How to make the frosting + top tips:
- Keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight (or for at least 12 hours) for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom.
- Make sure you use full-fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won’t happen and you won’t be able to whip it up.
- Open the tin upside down – the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid.
- Save the watery liquid you pour off for adding to soups or smoothies.
- Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl along with the other ingredients (maple syrup, lemon juice and vanilla extract).
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip until light and fluffy.
- Make sure not to over-whip as you don’t want it to be curdly.
- Make sure the sponges have cooled completely before applying the frosting, otherwise it will melt!
How to assemble the cake:
- Once the sponges have cooled completely, place one sponge on a large plate or cake stand, and use a palette knife for frosting to 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.
How long does this Coconut Cake keep for?
This Coconut Cake tastes best fresh, but keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days.
Substitutions you can make to this recipe:
- You can use any type of oil: coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil.
- You can use any type of plant-based milk: almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc.
- You can use any type of liquid sweetener: maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup etc.
- You can replace the ground almonds (almond meal) with ground walnuts.
- For a nut-free version: replace the ground almonds (almond meal) with ground sunflower seeds or use 30g (1/4 cup) coconut flour instead of 150g (1 1/4 cup) ground almonds.
- You can use plain flour, wholemeal (whole wheat) flour or spelt flour instead of the gluten-free flour if you’re not gluten-free.
More gluten-free vegan cake recipes:
- Tropical Carrot Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Cherry Bakewell Cake
- Matcha Strawberry Cake
- Chocolate Cake
- Orange Cake
- Strawberry Cake
- Black Forest Cake
- Red Velvet Cake
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
- Lemon Pound 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 #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake
For the cake:
- 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)
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice *
- 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch 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 powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
For the frosting:
- 400 g (14 oz) tin of full-fat coconut milk ***
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons desiccated coconut ****
For the cake:
- 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
For the frosting:
- 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
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