My affection for this easy Vegan Coconut Cake recipe goes back to my childhood when my mom would make me a more traditional version (i.e., not vegan…I don’t think vegan was a thing then) on my birthday each year. I guess because there’s something about the moist cake topped with coconut that gets me every time.
As I said above, my mom would make me a delicious dairy-free coconut cake for my birthday when I was a kid. Then, one year my birthday fell at a time when my mom was in the hospital and the responsibility of preparing the cake fell upon my older sister, Pam. My sister Pam was 12 when I was born so she was more like a second mother to me.
So, I guess Pam thought I was a bit too demanding about what exactly I wanted from my cake. Or maybe she was just being playful. Who knows. Anyway, my sister, Pam? She likes to do things her own way. So, she made the cake as I requested, but she put her own touch on it — she put purple food coloring in the cake and orange food color in the icing. The cake tasted the same as always, but it looked really weird.
Below is the recipe for my very own Marly’s Vegan Coconut Cream Cake (sans food coloring). But before the recipe, a little tidbit about my sister’s name. The one very cool thing about her name is that her initials spelled Pam. I wonder how many people there are like this in the world? I’m sure it must be quite unique. I’ve read that having your initials spell a word can have a positive impact on a person’s life, but having your initials actually spell your name? That has to be much better.
Coconut Cake Recipes with Coconut Milk
Now, onto this coconut vegan cake. The first question I had is can you make a coconut milk vegan? I was glad to discover the answer is a resounding Yes! Then, next, I knew when I set about to perfect the recipe, I wanted to make this vegan coconut cake easy. That means not too many exotic ingredients and not too much time in the kitchen!
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Coconut Cake
The flavor of coconut in a cake is undeniable good. On top of that if you enjoy a moist cake with creamy, sweet filling, topped with coconut, well, you are in the right place.
I love my easy vegan recipes, but every now and then it’s fun to prepare a dish that is a little more involved. This healthy coconut cake is not unlike most cakes, in that it takes a few minutes to put things together, but most of the time involved is in the baking.
Obviously, I’ve been craving coconut milk cake recipe most of my life (see the story above), so I’m a little biased when it comes to my dairy free coconut cake recipe. Because the cake is moist and the icing is so creamy, this is a favorite to share with people when they’re over for a dinner.
I have rarely run into someone who doesn’t like coconut. I’m sure there are some, but at least in my circles there aren’t many. And there’s nothing like adding coconut to a recipe to make it turn into an instant comfort food favorite. Here are some examples of my favorite coconut favorites:
- Vegan Coconut Cream Pie
- One-Pot Coconut Curry with Rice
- Chocolate Chip Energy Bites with Coconut
- Vegan Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
From sweet to savory, there’s so much you can do with coconut. I even use coconut water in my smoothie recipes.
Is Coconut Healthy?
You know I love to look into the health benefits of certain ingredients, and coconut has been on the chopping block a few times over the years. There were periods where we looked at coconut as the devil, but that’s been called into question lately.
According to Dr. Greger of Nutrition Facts, coconut water (the liquid found inside a coconut), can actually be used intravenously. Coconut oil, however, is one of the few sources of saturated fats found in the plant kingdom. There have been some studies showing the benefits of coconut oil in reducing inflammation markers and/or cholesterol. I like to use Dr. Greger as a resource and he recommends using coconut oil in moderation. I think that’s good advice for a lot of foods, except maybe green, leafy vegetables.
So, rather than eating the whole thing yourself, I recommend having a slice of this eggless coconut cake, and allow yourself to really enjoy and savor it. But be sure to keep it as a treat. I definitely like to make this cake when I can share it with others so that I get to enjoy my slice, and not have it around the house tempting me to eat it every day.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, recipes are a little messed up. Also, it’s important to note that the recipe as we know it today hasn’t been around all that long. I mean, most people didn’t have a modern oven in their kitchen until the early 1900s. Can you imagine that!
That means those early recipes were very general — a list of ingredients and quick instructions and that was about it. So, in my mind, we could look at all recipes like that. Use it as guideline, but adapt it so it reflects your own personal tastes.
So, with that in mind, here are some of my favorite expert tips to make this recipe just right plus some ideas for how you can adapt this recipe to meet your needs:
- This recipe calls for vegan butter. I used Earth Balanace.
- Add some lime zest to the cake or vegan coconut frosting for an exotic splash
- Substitute gluten free baking flour for the all purpose flour to make a vegan gluten free coconut cake
- Could you imagine some crumbled, toasted pecans on the top of this cake?
- Try adding a little bit of raspberries to the frosting that goes between the cake layers
- Add a tablespoon or two of rum to the batter to make coconut rum cake!
- You could toast the coconut before sprinkling it over the top of the finished cake for some added flair and crunchiness.
- Make it a chocolate coconut cake by adding some unsweetened cocoa powder to the cake. I’d say about a third of a cup or so should do it.
See? Wasn’t that fun! And now it’s your turn. What are the ways you can make this recipe your own? I say go for it!
When serving this cake, I would definitely think about having some vegan whipped cream on the side for added flair. You could also have a bowl of raspberries nearby as well. What is it about coconut and raspberries? I don’t know, I’m going with it for now.
We recently made this cake again so we could reshoot the photographs. The old photo is below the recipe. Clearly we’ve improved a lot over the years.
Oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted an excuse to make this recipe again. OK, let me be even more honest. I wanted an excuse to eat this vegan coconut cake again. See? Coconut Cake really is my favorite!
If you’re into uniquely flavored cakes like me, you definitely want to check out my Vegan Carrot Cake. It’s kind of awesome too.
So, we hope you love this Vegan Coconut Cake recipe as much as we do. If you decide to make it, snap a photo and share it with us using #namelymarly on Instagram. We love seeing your photos!
Vegan Coconut Cake
- 1 cup vegan butter , softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups whole fat coconut milk (canned)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup vegan butter or coconut oil , softened
- 2-3 tablespoons plant-based milk
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes , sweetened
- Preheat oven to 350F° degrees. Grease and flour two round 9-inch cake pans. Cut circles of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pans. Place rounds in bottom of pans and top with additional vegetable spray.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, coconut milk, vinegar, vanilla, and coconut flavoring. Cream well for 6 to 8 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour to creamed mixture, beating until just mixed.
- Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool Completely.
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- In a bowl combine the powdered sugar and softened vegan butter or coconut oil. Stir until combined. It will be a powdery mix. Add the plant-based milk one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the desired, spreadable consistency.
- Fill and spread cake layers with frosting and garnish with coconut flakes.
Finally, if you like vegan tropical-flavored cakes, you are definitely going to want to check these out:
- Tropical Vegan Carrot Cake from Baker By Nature
- Vegan Mango Cupcakes by Vegan Richa
- Vegan Pineapple Snack Cake by Cooking with Books
- Or how about this Vegan Raspberry Coconut Cake by yours truly!
Whatever cake you find yourself eyeballing, enjoy!