This simple vegan coconut cake with coconut buttercream frosting is super easy to make, soft, fluffy yet moist and rich in coconut flavour! There’s lots of coconut in the cake and the frosting, and it’s covered with more shredded coconut and flakes. Perfect to bake over summer or Christmas, this is a dream recipe for all the coconut lovers out there!
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Love coconuts and looking for coconut desserts? Then do I have a special recipe for you today! Vegan coconut cake with coconut cream frosting! Did it just get you excited to go to the kitchen straight away? I bet it did. This cake has been one of my absolute favourites – full of refreshing coconut flavour in every mouthful, the texture is soft and fluffy yet moist and rich. It’s also very simple and easy to make! You can make this cake in just 1 bowl. Yes! If you or your friends and family love coconut, this cake is just perfect!
Recipe overview – why you’ll love this vegan coconut cake recipe
- Level: Easy
- Taste: Sweet coconut
- Texture: Moist, fluffy, and rich
- Diet: Plant-based, dairy-free, egg-free/eggless. can be gluten-free, and nut-free
- Time: 50 mins
- Occasion: Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, home parties, and more
Main ingredients and substitutions
Caster sugar: Caster sugar gives sweetness to the cake as well as making it moist! Granulated sugar can be used instead as well. Make sure to measure correctly with a digital scale. Other sugars such as coconut sugar, brown sugar, and monk fruit sugar will work too but the texture and colour of the final result might be different. It should taste great though!
Coconut milk and cream: I used canned coconut milk and cream for the cake and the frosting. For the cake, I just used room temperature coconut milk in liquid form but for the frosting, I chilled the can overnight and used the cream part on top alone.
Shredded coconut: Shredded coconut adds coconut flavour as well as a lovely texture to the cake! I recommend shredded coconuts over coconut flakes for adding to the cake batter, as shredded ones incorporate with the batter better (say that 5 times fast).
Vegan butter: I love using Naturli’s vegan butter! I used it in both the cake and frosting. You can also use vegetable oil as well such as canola, sunflower, etc. Note, however, that the texture of the cake might be slightly more moist and oily.
Applesauce: I used my homemade applesauce for this recipe! You can use storebought applesauce too. Mashed bananas or sweet potatoes should work just as well!
*I use bone char-free sugars for all of my recipes. I cover the topic in my article Vegan Baking 101. Go to the “Is sugar vegan?” section to learn more!
Recommended equipment for this recipe
Cake tin: I used my 18cm (7 in) cake tin for this recipe! It yielded 2 thick layers. Smaller sizes like 16cm (6in) would make 3 layers.
Parchment paper: It’s always a good idea to line your cake tin with parchment paper to make it easy to take the cake out and prevent it from sticking to the tin. If you don’t have parchment paper, just grease the bottom and side with vegan butter or oil!
Cake stand and spatula: A cake stand that rotates, and a spatula are a must-have, it’s so much easier to frost the cake with this equipment!
*The ingredient list and measurement for this recipe can be found in the recipe card at the bottom.
How to make this simple coconut cake
Step 1: Make the cake batter
Let’s start making the cake first! Preheat the oven to 180°C(350°F). In a bowl, mix the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar to make vegan buttermilk. This will help make the cake fluffy! Set aside to curdle.
In a large bowl or a stand mixer bowl beat the vegan butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until they are well combined. The texture should be creamy and fluffy and the colour is slightly paler. Add the vegan buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla extract and coconut extract and beat further until combined.
Add the flour, shredded coconut, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the wet mixture and mix gently until they are just combined with a large wooden spoon. If using a stand mixer, change the attachment to a paddle attachment to mix the batter gently.
Step 2: Bake
Pour the batter evenly into two lined 18cm (7inch) cake tins and smooth out the top. Bake them for 30 mins until the top turns slightly golden brown. To check if the cake is baked: insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, all good! If it comes out with wet batter, bake for another 5 mins and check again.
Let the cake cool down to room temperature in the tin before taking it out. The cake is quite delicate right out of the oven so cooling it down in the tin helps it firm up nicely! Take the cake out of the tin carefully and transfer it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 3: Make the frosting
Whilst the cakes are baking and cooling down, let’s make the coconut buttercream frosting! In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl: beat the vegan butter and coconut cream until well combined. At this stage, it looks like cottage cheese but it’s ok! It will be nice and creamy later.
Add the coconut extract, vanilla extract, shredded coconut, and icing sugar(1 cup at a time) and beat until well combined. Add the soy whipping cream and beat more until it’s creamy, fluffy, and makes a nice peak.
Step 4: Assembly
Finally, assembling time! On a cake decorating stand, place the first layer of the cake down and put the coconut buttercream frosting on with a spatula, and spread evenly. Make sure to spread to the edge! Place the second layer of the cake on and repeat the frosting.
Put the frosting to the side of the cake whilst rotating the cake and smooth out the surface of the side and top with the spatula or a flat shaper. Try to keep the same pressure to spread the frosting evenly!
Sprinkle some shredded coconut and toasted coconut flaked on the top and side to finish. Slice and enjoy!
Expert Tips and tricks
Don’t remove the cake straight away
Cakes are delicate right out of the oven, so you don’t want to touch them while it’s still shaping their form. Let the cake cool down to room temperature first in the tin, then take it out to cool further. Not only does taking it out too soon damage the shape of the cake but it can dry it out too which results in a less fluffy and soft texture.
Use only the solid coconut cream part for the frosting
For this coconut buttercream frosting recipe, I used the solid cream part of chilled canned coconut milk. For the best result use only the solid cream part and, do not use any liquid part in the buttercream. It can thin out the buttercream too much and the buttercream can be too runny.
Chill the coconut buttercream frosting before using
Depending on the brand of coconut milk, the water content can be different to the one I used for this recipe. If your coconut buttercream frosting seems a little too soft, cover it with a reusable cling film and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour before using. This will firm up the frosting nicely!
How to store
The cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Place it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge to enjoy the next day! I do not recommend keeping the cake at room temperature for more than 2 hours since the buttercream can go too soft, especially if it’s summer and hot. The coconut buttercream frosting is prone to heat so after you finish serving, place the rest of the cake in the fridge immediately to keep it fresh.
You can also store them in the freezer too. To freeze each slice, place it in a freezer-friendly airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Thaw at room temperature and serve!
Q and A
Can I use coconut milk for the frosting?
It needs to be the solid fat part of canned coconut milk, aka coconut cream for the frosting!
Can I make this cake in advance?
Yes, you can make the cake and frosting the day before! Simply follow the instructions before the assembly process, cover the cooled cakes and frosting in a bowl with cling film, and keep them in the fridge until the next day.
When assembling, bring them back to slightly cooler than room temperature and follow the instructions for assembly!
Want to master the basics of vegan baking?
Check out Vegan Baking 101 – the beginner’s guide to vegan baking for you to become an excellent vegan baker and familiar with the basics of vegan baking, ingredients, and techniques with useful tips!
You will LOVE this coconut cake because it’s:
- simple and easy to make
- full of coconut flavour
- perfect for summer and Christmas
- moist and rich
- soft and fluffy
Want more recipes like this?
Try my other delicious dessert recipes you might enjoy!
Please leave a comment and rate this recipe in the comment section below if you like this recipe! Let me know and tag me @thechestnutbakery on Instagram too. Thank you for making my recipe, friends!