Coconut Cake (grain-free/paleo option)

This is the season of birthdays in my house. We’ve got one in February, one in March, a couple in April…. It’s a cake extravaganza around here. And, now, finally, I can say there’s a cake I like. Okay. A cake I love. That, of course, means that this is a dense, moist, not very cake-like cake. Just the way I like it.

Two options here – a grain option and a grain-free option. Both are delicious. I couldn’t really pick a favorite. You choose.

I did learn something really interesting while baking 3 versions of this cake. Coconut palm sugar does not act exactly like regular sugar. I’ve always assumed it was a one-for-one sub, with a slightly different flavor. Yes, yes, the texture is coarser than cane sugar, but that’s nothing a quick whiz in the coffee grinder can’t handle.

But, as I was making this cake, I discovered that coconut palm sugar sucks up moisture way more than cane sugar. The cane sugar version of this cake had a more traditional cake batter – more liquidy and baked up into a nicely rounded top. The palm sugar? Well, it’s verging on cookie dough consistency. And, the sugar was the only difference between those two versions. Once baked, though, and slathered with some sort of amazing frosting (recipe for that coming soon), it won’t matter. If you can eat cane sugar, go for it. If not, you’ll still be happy with the palm sugar version.

Sorry vegans. This one uses a whole lot of happy little chicken eggs. But, if anyone wants to try to convert it, be my guest. Let me know what you do!

Coconut Cake (grain-free)

Coconut Cake (grain-free)

Coconut Cake

Group 1
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1.5 cup full fat (canned) coconut milk
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla

Group 2
1 cup sugar (palm or cane – your choice)
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup finely shreded unsweetened coconut

Pick one of these 2 options:
Grain option: 4.5 ounces superfine white rice flour + 4.5 ounces sweet white rice flour + 2 ounces sifted coconut flour

Grain-free option: 3 ounces sifted coconut flour + 4.5 ounces tapioca starch + 4.5 ounces blanched almond flour

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 cake pan. In a large bowl, beat the group 1 ingredients together. In a small bowl, whisk together the group 2 ingredients and one of the 2 flour options.  Pour group 2 into group 1 and beat until fully incorporated. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes. (The grain version will be on the lower end of that scale, the grain-free version the higher end.)

Cool completely and frost with your favorite topping. Or, come back soon and get my recipe for whipped coconut butter frosting!

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9 Responses to Coconut Cake (grain-free/paleo option)

  1. I had no idea coconut sugar absorbs liquid! Do you think you could add an extra Tbsp or so of coconut milk to get the same result as the cane sugar version? This cake sounds delicious by the way, I can’t wait to try it!

    • Deanna says:

      Potentially. I’m not sure. I haven’t tried it. I really want to do some more experiments comparing cane and coconut sugars now.

      For reference, the cake pictured is the coconut sugar version, and it got rave reviews from my taste testers (a martial arts studio full of folks and a troupe of circus performers). So, it _works_ as a 1 for 1 sub. The top of the cake just isn’t as pretty. Frosting hides all imperfections. 🙂

  2. gfeeasily says:

    This cake sounds and looks fabulous, Deanna! I know it would be a hit in my family as we love coconut cake and this one is full of coconut love. 🙂 Hope all the birthday celebrations went well!


  3. Roxanne says:

    Hi! Has the whipped coconut butter frosting recipe been posted? I’m new to gluten free and ready to try this cake asap! 🙂

  4. Charu says:

    Hi Deanna,

    I would love to try this one out but we can’t do eggs. Any suggestions for substitutions? Like flax seed meal, Chia meal, etc..


    • Deanna says:

      Honestly, I doubt this one would work egg-free. I’ve not had much luck with egg substitutions beyond about 2 eggs. But, if I were to try, I’d probably go with 2 flax seed eggs (total: 2 T flax seed, 6 T hot water) and 6 T. applesauce + 1 t. psyllium powder. If you don’t want to use psyllium, then I’d us 1 T. chia meal in place of it.

      If you try it, let me know how it works/doesn’t work. I suspect it will be pretty heavy sans eggs, especially the grain-free version.

    • Deanna says:

      Hey I had some time and a lot of extra coconut. So, I thought I’d give it a whirl. It’s certainly not a cake. It’s more like a dense cooked pudding bar. (I did the grain-free version. The rice version might have better results.)

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