This Gluten-Free Vegan Coffee Cake is just as delicious as its traditional counterpart: think moist, fluffy, fragrant coffee-infused sponge, rich, creamy frosting and earthy walnuts. It's easy to make, comes together in one bowl, can be made with or without coffee and is refined sugar free too.
American coffee cake does not contain coffee. It is called coffee cake because it is a cake that is often eaten with coffee. American coffee cake consists of a vanilla sponge, which is traditionally made extra moist and fluffy by the addition of sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt or cream cheese, topped with a cinnamon-infused crumble (streusel) topping. A mixture of cinnamon and sugar is also often added to the middle of the sponge to create a swirl effect. My Vegan Coffee Cake is an example of this.
This recipe is a British coffee cake. In Britain, coffee cake means a round cake that is made with a coffee-infused sponge and coffee-infused buttercream frosting with chopped walnuts mixed into the frosting, or used to decorate the top of the cake.
Yes - you can use decaffeinated coffee.
Yes - you can use chicory powder instead.
Chicory powder is made from ground chicory root and has a bitter, coffee-like flavour, so much so that it used to be known as 'poor man's coffee'. It also boasts numerous health benefits.
You can buy it in local health stores or online, and maybe at your local supermarket.
How to make ground walnuts
This recipe calls for ground walnuts - here's how to make them!
- Place the walnuts in a food processor.
- Whizz until they form a fine powder.
Tip: Make sure not to over-blend, otherwise you'll end up with nut butter!
How to make the cake
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Mix together all the ingredients in a glass mixing bowl.
- Transfer the mixture to two 18 cm / 7 inch sandwich baking tins.
Tip: Line them with greased baking paper to make the sponges come out easier.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Leave the sponges to cool down on a cooling rack once they’re out the oven.
How to frost and decorate it
- Make the frosting by using an electric whisk to whip up the coconut milk.
- Place one half of the cake on a cake stand or a plate and apply just less than half of the frosting onto it.
- Place the other half of the cake on top and apply the frosting on the top and sides of the cake - you can use a palette knife for frosting for this.
- Decorate the cake with walnut halves, if desired.
Substitutions you can make
- 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 walnuts with ground almonds (almond meal).
- For a nut-free version: replace the ground walnuts with ground sunflower seeds or use 30g (¼ cup) coconut flour instead of 150g (1 ¼ cup) ground walnuts.
- You can use plain flour, wholemeal (whole wheat) flour or spelt flour instead of the gluten-free flour if you’re not gluten-free.
- You can use decaffeinated coffee.
- You can replace the instant coffee with chicory powder.
How long does this keep for?
This Coffee Cake tastes best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days.
More vegan cake recipes
- Red Velvet Cake
- Tropical Carrot Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Cherry Bakewell Cake
- Chocolate Cake
- Black Forest Cake
- Strawberry Sponge Layer Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
- Lemon Pound Cake
- Orange Pound Cake
- Gingerbread Loaf 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.
Watch how to make it
Gluten-Free Vegan Coffee Cake
For the cake:
- 60 g (¼ cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 200 ml (⅘ cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons instant coffee * (or sub equal amount chicory powder)
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) ground walnuts ** (or sub ground almonds/almond meal)
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
For the frosting:
- 400 g (14 oz) tin of full-fat coconut milk ***
- 5 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee (or sub equal amount chicory powder)
- Walnut halves
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 vinegar, maple syrup, vanilla, coffee and ground walnuts.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
- Divide mixture between two greased baking tins lined with baking paper (I used two 7inch/18cm baking tins).
- Bake in oven for around 15 minutes until risen slightly and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Once out the oven, transfer cakes from baking tins onto a wired rack to leave them to cool completely before applying the frosting.
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, vanilla extract and coffee.
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy.
To frost and decorate the cake:
- Place one half of the cake onto a plate or cake stand, and spread just less than half of the frosting onto it.
- Place the other half of the cake on top of that and use rest of the frosting to spread on top.
- Decorate with walnut halves if desired.
- Keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days.
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