Coconut Cake, (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)


The holidays are here and some of us have already seen snow. What better way to celebrate than with a festive coconut cake?!? This cake is not only delicious and moist, but gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free. By using coconut milk and coconut oil I was able to create the coconut favor naturally. Many traditional recipes call for imitation coconut flavoring/ extract. I also wanted to use a healthier sweetener so I used coconut sugar, which gives the cake a tan color.

When it came to the frosting, I wanted a frosting that was bold in flavor while keeping it dairy free. This frosting is super easy it just requires planning. By placing the coconut milk in the refrigerator 6 hours before needed, the coconut water and cream separate. I will usually just throw a few cans in the refrigerator the night before. Adding confectioners sugar to the whipped cream it helps stabilized the frosting at room temperature. But beware, because if the temperature in the room starts to gets too warm the frosting will melt. Therefore it’s best to hold this cake under refrigeration until you’re ready to serve it. Simply take the cake out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.

Happy Holidays & Happy Baking!

Coconut Cake, (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

Serves Makes 2, 9-inch cakes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 6 hours
  • 1 ¼ cups almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk, full fat, shaken
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 ½ cups gluten free flour, sifted (preferably Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon basking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups coconut sugar
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups coconut flakes
  • 2, 13.5 ounce cans, full fat *organic coconut milk, refrigerated at least 6 hours
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Place the two cans of coconut milk, used for the frosting in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight before use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚ degrees, brush baking pans with melted coconut oil and set aside. In a large bowl combine the coconut milk, almond milk, vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes. In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add the coconut sugar, oil and egg yolks to the milk mixture.
  3. Place the egg whites in a stand mixer and beat on medium until the eggs become foamy, then increase the speed to high. Beat the egg whites until medium/firm peaks form. Make sure not to over whip, you don't want the egg whites to be dry. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer bowl with a paddle attachment. On medium speed, slowly add in the milk mixture. Once completely incorporated, stop the mixture and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Turn mixer back on, medium speed, being sure the batter is one smooth and consistent texture. You do not want clumps of dry flour in the batter.
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in 1/3 of the egg whites with a spatula. This first stage you are “lightening” up the batter. Once eggs whites have been completely incorporated, gently and slowly, fold in another third of the egg whites. There should not be any pockets of white in the batter. Repeat with the final third. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick is inserted into the center and it comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let rest in the pans for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
  6. Place the coconut flakes on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, just until the edges start to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven, set aside and let cool.
  7. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting by remove the coconut milk from the refrigerator. Carefully remove the cream from the cans, leaving the coconut water at the bottom of the can. Place the cream and confectioners sugar into a stand mixer with a whip attachment, or use a large bowl and a hand mixer. Whip on medium, medium/high speed until all lumps are removed. Add the vanilla and beat until evenly incorporated.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled completely, with a serrated knife cut of the rounded top of the cakes and discard. Place one cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a thin layer of frosting evenly on top of the cake, using an offset spatula or knife. Place the second cake on top of the frosted cake. Use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides of the cake. Take the toasted coconut flakes in your palm and gently press them into the sides of the cake, coating the entire side of the cake. Slice and serve. If not serving immediately, place under refrigeration.
DK Tips
  • Recommended brands of coconut milk: Native Forest or Whole Foods. Be sure to get full fat. Many other brands have various thickeners, fillers and preservatives and do not separate when refrigerated.
  • This cake is best kept held under refrigeration because of the nature of the frosting. If the temperature in the room gets too warm the coconut cream will start to melt. Remove the cake from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.
  • Prefer it shredded? Use shredded coconut instead of coconut flakes to cover the side of the cake, or coat the entire cake.