Vanilla Coconut Cream Cake – Vegan, Gluten-free & Nut-free with Coconut Cream Frosting


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Makes: 1 bundt or two 6″ or 7″ cakes.

Double for three or four 6″ cake layers

*Disclaimer – this recipe contains coconut. Although coconut is considered a fruit and is missing the proteins that usually cause people to be allergic to tree nuts, some people with tree-nut allergies may also be allergic or sensitive to coconut *

I had a request to make a First Birthday Smash Cake. Unfortunately, the mom was dealing with some known and unknown food allergies with her little girl. I can understand the anxiety and fear around this. I myself have a severe tree nut food allergy.  Two of my children also have food allergies as well as a few of my nieces and nephews. So I decided I was going to try my best to give this mom and her little girl a worry-free cake!

I had to stay away from all dairy, egg, gluten, banana and apple.  I also had to stay free of corn and soy as she had not eaten those foods yet. So many dairy alternatives have tons of ingredients and I wanted to stay as basic as I could so we were sure the foods were all safe. Thankfully coconut was a safe food and that gave this cake and frosting such a wonderful taste! I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream which is pure coconut cream – no other ingredients!  The Trader Joe’s gluten free flour was also safe for nut allergies and free from almond flour which many gluten-free flours contain. Lastly, the common fruit egg replacements apples and bananas were not safe. Pumpkin puree worked as a wonderful egg replacement.

I never thought I’d make a vegan, gluten free cake by choice – but I honestly would use this recipe even when food allergies were not a concern.  And the Coconut Cream Frosting is going to be a very regular frosting in my future! It is amazing!

Cake Ingredients:

1-⅓ cups gluten free flour

½ teaspoon xanthan gum

1-¾ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut cream

½ cup oil (light olive oil is a good choice if you have soy or corn concerns)

¼ cup + 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree (this is your egg replacement)

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup granulated sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spoon your flour into your measuring cups. Do not “scoop” the flour. This is always important with all measuring, but especially so with gluten-free flour because if you scoop you will end up with too much flour leading to a dry cake.
  3. Add all your ingredients to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer.  Combine thoroughly. Unlike traditional flour cakes, overmixing will actually help create more structure and can be beneficial.
  4. Allow your batter to “rest” for 30 minutes.  With gluten-free baking this allows the flours to absorb more moisture which produces a less “gritty” texture that you can often notice in gluten-free baking.
  5. While your batter rests, prepare your pans by lining cake pans with parchment paper and greasing with olive oil (or whatever oil you used in your cake).
  6. Pour your batter into your prepared pans. 
  7. Bake for 32 – 36 minutes.
  8. Baking times will vary based on the thickness, size, and material of your pans. Once you reach 32 minutes you should keep a close eye on your cakes. They are ready once a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool and then flip the pans over on to a wire rack for the cakes to cool completely.

Coconut Cream Frosting – Vegan “Buttercream”

This frosting is surprisingly stable and so easy to make. The longer you keep your coconut cream in the refrigerator the better.  You can use the liquid part of the can for your cake or for any recipes that call for milk.  And it would be amazing in a smoothie!

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 3 cans of pure coconut cream, chilled at least 12 hours
  • 1-¼ cup powdered sugar
  • (or approximately ½ cup of powdered sugar per can if you make more or less frosting)
  1. Refrigerate your cans of coconut cream for at least 12 hours. This allows part of the can to solidify.
  2. Do not shake the cans! You want the liquid and solids to remain separated. 
  3. Spoon only the solidified coconut cream into a stand mixer.
  4. Beat until smooth.
  5. Add your powdered sugar a little at a time until fully incorporated.
  6. Add food coloring if you wish – here’s my instructions on making all natural pink food coloring from beets! 
  7. Refrigerating your frosting will allow it to firm up a little bit more.
  8. You can work with the thickness of the frosting depending on your use.  I was using this for a naked cake and the consistency was perfect.  If you were planning to pipe designs/rosettes, you may benefit with a bit more powdered sugar. This is true of all frostings!