Gluten-free coconut cake has to be the most popular cake I make. It is rich, fluffy and coconutty. This cake is dairy-free, gluten-free and soon to be one of your favorites. It passed my taste test when it became one of my most requested cakes by people gluten-free and not.
Gluten-Free Flour Blends
Store Bought Gluten-Free Flour
If you prefer a store-bought blend, I recommend King Arthur Flour All Purpose Gluten-Free flour or their Measure for Measure Flour. Be sure to check out my collection of King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour recipes. Cup4Cup which contains milk powder and Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend are also good certified gluten-free options. Omit the xanthan gum in the recipe if your flour blend contains guar gum, xanthan gum or inulin.
DIY Gluten-Free Flour Blend
There are several options for a gluten-free flour for baking. My custom blend of sorghum, millet and brown rice flours. Some of the depth of flavor in this cake comes from the variety of gluten-free flours I use. I know it’s a little more of a hassle to have a bunch of different flours lying around but I think it’s worth it. And us strictly gluten-free people really need to branch out beyond the regular rice flour blend. Vitacost.com has an excellent selection of affordable, CERTIFIED gluten-free flours and has all the flours I use in my blend.
Here is my special flour blend that I love for this cake recipe and many more of my gluten-free recipes:
- 1 c sweet white sorghum flour
- 3/4 c millet flour
- 1/4 c brown rice flour
- 2/3 c potato starch
- 1/3 c tapioca starch
See the notes in the recipe for a super simple DIY gluten-free flour blend or my blog post on gluten-free flour mixes. You can save quite a bit by mixing your own.
Coconut Cake Ingredients
When I developed this recipe I had trouble getting the coconut flavor to survive the baking process. But canned coconut milk along with plenty of coconut extract does the trick. To get a noticeable coconut flavor in the cake, canned coconut milk is key. Be sure that you use regular, not light coconut milk.
In addition to the coconut milk, I use 2 TABLEspoons of coconut extract or flavoring. This sounds like a lot of extract, but this is what it takes to give this cake a definite coconut flavor.
Shredded Coconut – I like to coat my gluten-free coconut cake with a combination of unsweetened toasted and untoasted coconut. With a sugary frosting, I feel like sweetened coconut is too much. To toast the shredded coconut, place it in a dry pan and toss until it begins to turn golden. Remove from the pan as soon as it browns! The residual heat of the pan will burn it quickly.
How to Stack a 2 Layer Cake
For a bakery style layer cake with 2 even layers and a nice flat, sharp edged top, here is how to assemble the cake:
- Use a long blade, serrated knife.
- Hold it parallel to the counter top and shave off the domed part of the cake top. Do this for both layers.
- Place one of the layers on a cake plate, cake board or cake turntable, bottom side down.
- Coat just the top of this layer with frosting.
- Place the other layer on top of it, bottom side up. This will give you a nice flat, sharp edged top layer.
- Now frost the outside of the cake
This gluten-free cake pops recipe is a perfect way to use the trimmings from the cake. You’ll just need a little extra frosting and cake pop sticks, that’s it!
This cake is fantastic with my vegan chocolate cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting or my 2 ingredient vegan chocolate frosting. Check out my full list of frosting recipes.
Gluten-Free Coconut Cake
- 2½ c gluten-free flour blend*
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp xanthan gum omit if your flour blend contains xanthan or guar gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 2 c sugar
- 1 c oil
- ¾ c + 2 Tbsp canned coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp coconut extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° line the pans with parchment and spray with oil.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- Beat the sugar, eggs, oil, milk and coconut and vanilla extracts together in a small mixing bowl.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans. Or fill standard cupcake liners 2/3 full.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes for 8" layers, 30-35 minutes for 9" layers or 18-20 minutes for cupcakes or until the top is set in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the layers or cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Toast half of the shredded coconut in a dry pan until it begins to brown. Remove from the pan immediately!
- Immediately coat with shredded coconut.
3/4 c millet flour
1/4 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca starch For an easy DIY gluten-free flour blend, combine:
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch