As a non-Vegan and gluten lover with Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free friends events like birthdays usually involve a disappointing "cake" that's a dense grainy goo with a notable bean flavor half the time. So my answer is a cake that I will enjoy eating and that my friends or guest with various dietary restrictions can also enjoy.
This cake (if you pay attention to your ingredients and use those free of contaminants) is:
- Gluten Free, and
- safe for the "big eight" food allergies (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, Tree nuts, Peanuts, Wheat, and Soybeans).
Step 1: What You'll Need
Vegan Gluten-free Coconut Cake Recipe
2 cups gluten free flour
1 cup Coconut flour (can sub with more gluten free flour)
1/2 cup oat flour (just blind up 1/2 cup of normal oat meal)
1 cup granulated sugar (a large crystal unbleached sugar like Sugar in the Raw is fine)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cans (3 cups) light coconut milk
1 can (~14 oz) coconut cream, chill can in frig overnight
4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Chia seeds, freshly ground
1/2 cup water (preferably water from coconut cream)
2 cups Sweetened Coconut flakes
1 cup Coconut oil (you want the one that says raw/cold-pressed and unfiltered/unrefinded as the others lack coconut flavor)
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract (can replace with coconut extract/flavor)
2 large bowls
1 creaming tool
measuring cups and spoons
2 small bowls
3 9'' cake pans or 2 9" cake pans and a cupcake pan.
Step 2: Notes on Using Safe Ingredients
Ingredients (like vanilla extract) can have hidden gluten or products of milk or eggs.
If you are making this for a friend they can help you pick the items that are safe for them. Some products will say "gluten free" or "naturally gluten-free" on the label (you can also find seals for being free or peanuts but that is rarer to find). In general, look through the ingredient list and communicate with others about what they need so they can enjoy your efforts.
Step 3: Mixing Instructions
Preheat Oven to 350 F (using a baking stone would be ideal)
1) Spoon flour into measuring cups. Add all the flours together in one bowl. Add 3 cups of coconut milk, whisk together and let sit (to better hydrate flour).
2) Separate the solids and the liquid from the coconut cream. Add solids to the second bowl and the liquids to the measuring glass.
3) To the Coconut cream solids, add coconut oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Stir and cream together.
4) Grind the chia seeds and add 1/2 water (or preferably the liquid you separated from the coconut cream solids). Whisk together well.
5) Mix together Hydrated four (step 1) with creamed cream sugar and fat (step 3) and add coconut flakes and salt. Whisk together well.
6) To Chia seed goo (step 4) add Apple Cider Vinegar and Vanilla extract.
7) Grease cake pans with coconut oil (and add liners to cupcake pan if using).
8) Once the oven is at temperature add the Vanilla Vinegar Chia goo (step 6) to the flour sugar cream and fat mix (step 5) together, whisking briskly to combine. Once mixed well pour or scoop into pans and quickly put them into the oven.
For Cupcakes : Check at 20 minutes (opening the oven before the 20-minute mark can result in your cakes collapsing)
For 9" Rounds : Check after about 40 minutes (opening oven too soon can make cakes fall)
Cake is done when pick comes completely clean and resistance is same throughout (no soft spots)
Step 4: Icing and Decoration Options
Coconut Cream "Sweetened Whipped Cream"
2 cans Coconut cream (chilled solids only)
1 1/3 tp 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (not adding this would make a thicker cream but my cans had an odd "canned" smell that I found unappetizing and the vanilla covers this up)
Coconut Oil "Buttercream"
1/2 cup Coconut oil
16 oz Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
more liquid as needed 1/2 teaspoon at a time
I used both using the Coconut cream as a crumb coat and filling, and using the Coconut buttercream as a dam for the filling as well as to add structural integrity to my two layer "naked cake" with raspberries.
Step 5: Building the Cake
1) Once the cake is out of the oven and the pan is cool enough to touch, flip the pans over onto a cookie sheet and remove the pans.
2) Pop the cakes in the freezer to get the cold (the flakes mixed with the softness of the crumb makes it a harder the usual cake to trim and crumb coat (see pictures above).
3) Pick a layer to be the bottom, add coconut cream to the top and flip onto plate or cake board. Crumb coat both layers (you won't be able to crumb coat what will be the top of the cake until you stack the cake).
3) If your cake crumbles on you glue it back together with some of the coconut cream (and if you have a divot in your cake just put some coconut cream on the pat in crumbs from your trimmings and add more coconut cream on top).
4) Once both layers are crumb coated, make a circle around the top of the bottom layer with the coconut buttercream (to pipe take sandwich baggie, roll to one corner add coconut buttercream corner, trim tip off cornor, and twist bag so buttercream is forced out - be quick your hands will melt the buttercream). Add raspberries if you want (otherwise just make a thick and sturdy dam with the coconut buttercream). to the back of raspberries build up a wall of coconut buttercream (smooth out so it is hole free so it will hold the coconut cream inside. Add three raspberries to the center with more buttercream to better hold the weight of the top layer so that when you cut it the cream isn't squeezed out after the first slice is removed (if you are not using the raspberries just make a circle of coconut buttercream in the center and fill it in).
5) Pour in the coconut cream (do not overfill, the rest will go on top of the cake, or can frost cupcakes if you made them).
6) Flip the top layer onto the bottom layer. Crumb coat the top of the cake and repeat Steps 4 and 5 (the raspberries in the center is unneeded). If you run out of raspberries like I did, just space them evenly, and fill the spaces with buttercream. With the remaining buttercream I added to the back of the raspberries in the center to make the cake more sturdy).
Step 6: Storing and Transporting Notes
Do not refrigerate cake (it will make if go stale), instead store cake in the freezer (especially this cake, which the cream and buttercream will both melt if it gets too warm and can spoil more quickly due to the gluten free flour).
If you need to transport the cake, it's best to do it while frozen (also make sure you don't have the vent blasting heat at it in the car while transporting it).
If having at an outdoor party or event, be mindful of the temperature - it's probably not a good idea to have outside for a couple hours in the summer. If you want to have it at a summer get together, have it frozen before the party and keep inside and air conditioned home or in a cooler (ice free) if possible until the time that the cake will actually be eaten.
Melting of the buttercream and cream will start around 75 F, so plan accordingly.