Guess who baked herself a two-layer, extra-tender, and supremely moist Coconut Flour Cake (with coconut buttercream frosting!) for her own birthday?
Actually, the proper question is guess who baked herself coconut flour cakes, because this recipe took a few tries to get right. It was worth it!
I’m 33 today, and I suppose at some point it will become too embarrassing for me to continue to post my own birthday cake creations in such a public manner.
I’m not there yet!
This year, I’m not feeling quite so philosophical as I was on my 30th, when I posted this Lemon Layer Cake (which is still the very best lemon cake in the entire world, not to oversell it or anything) or quite as silly as I was the year of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake (which will ruin you from store-bought cookie cake forever, sorry not sorry).
Coconut flour cake falls somewhere in between.
Coconut flour cake is surprisingly moist and its flavor is unique, but it stays true to a certain nostalgia factor that I crave in any good birthday cake.
It’s more about the cake than it is the frosting (a reflection of my personal priorities), BUT the frosting certainly isn’t an afterthought. It’s thick and creamy, sweet but not too sweet.
It’s easy enough to make it without a specific special occasion in mind—you don’t even need a mixer for the batter, just a whisk and some energy from your upper arm.
Yet, in the unique way that a good homemade cake is certain to do, it makes any night on which you choose to serve it feel special by its very presence at the table.
Pull out the rainbow sprinkles and get ready to swirl on some extra frosting. It’s time to make the best-ever coconut cake!
How to Make Moist Coconut Flour Cake
Baking with coconut flour is always a bit tricky. Because coconut flour is naturally dry, it takes a certain amount of experimentation to make sure that recipes that use it, like this tender coconut cake, come out moist.
I needed a few tries with this recipe to make sure the coconut flour cake stayed melt-in-your-mouth moist but was still sturdy enough to hold up to layering and frosting.
It was absolutely worth the effort. Not only do I love this cake, but coconut flour itself is a fantastic ingredient to have in your pantry.
Coconut flour is naturally high in fiber and protein, so it’s perfect for healthy baked desserts like this cake (and others on this list of 50 Healthy Desserts).
It is also grain free and gluten free, making it an excellent resource for those with dietary restrictions, and it is Paleo diet approved too. (Looking for more gluten free cake ideas? Try this Gluten Free Carrot Cake.)
Here are my tips for baking this coconut flour cake with success.
- Start with Good-Quality Coconut Flour. Different brands of coconut flour can react differently in baked recipes. I use and recommend Bob’s Red Mill.
- Don’t Skip the Eggs. Yes, you REALLY do need all 4 large eggs and 2 egg whites to make this cake. Remember when I mentioned that coconut flour is dry? The eggs are what makes it moist.
Why Both Egg Yolks and Egg Whites? The whites have protein which provides structure to the cake. The yolks add richness. If you use all yolks, the coconut flour cake will be too heavy, all whites and it won’t be moist enough. The balance between the two I have here is just right.
Wait, What If I Want the Coconut Flour Cake Vegan? You can experiment with flax eggs, but I honestly can’t recommend it, because it would be swapping out such a large quantity. Instead, check out a recipe that’s already written to be vegan, like this Instant Pot Cake!
- Even Out Your Layers. I actually like to use a digital scale like this one (less than $10 and so worth it!) to make sure I have the same amount of batter in my pans. If you are eyeballing it, be sure to lean down to counter level and look at the pans at eye level to make sure you have the same amount of batter in each.
Why Even Amounts of Batter Matter. Having the same amount of batter in both pans will ensure the layers bake in the same amount of time. It will also make them the same thickness, leading to a more professional-looking cake.
- Use Full-Fat Coconut Milk. Believe it or not, this coconut flour cake contains ZERO butter. Instead, I swapped full-fat coconut milk. It makes the cake incredibly moist, and the flavor is lovely.
- Honey. While baking with liquid sweetener can be tricky (it can make standard wheat-flour-based cakes too moist), when you are baking with coconut flour, that is much less of an issue. This coconut flour cake is entirely sweetened with honey.
Paleo Bonus: For those following a Paleo diet, since this coconut cake is sugar free and dairy free, the recipe is Paleo too (swap your favorite Paleo frosting in place of what I have listed here, or leave the cake unfrosted).
How to Flavor Coconut Flour Cake
In addition to the flavor notes from the honey, coconut milk, and a hefty pour of vanilla extract, this coconut flour cake has two other bonus ingredients that make every forkful its own mini escape.
- Lemon Zest and Almond Extract. These work together in the background to elevate the cake’s flavor.
As the recipe is written, this is a rich, moist, and complexly flavored coconut flour vanilla cake.
If you’d like to make a true almond and coconut flour cake, you can double the almond extract and sprinkle toasted almonds over the top of the frosted cake.
For a coconut flour lemon cake, add additional lemon zest and swap the almond extract for ¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract. You can also top the cake with lemon cream cheese frosting.
More Coconut Flour Recipes
Because now that you have that bag of coconut flour, it’s time to use it!
- Coconut Flour Pancakes
- Coconut Flour Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Paleo Zucchini Bread
- Plus all of these coconut flour recipes!
Recommended Tools to Make Coconut Flour Cake
- Two 6-inch round cake pans (for a two-layer cake) or one 9-inch round pan (for a single layer cake).
- You can also double this recipe and bake it in two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Small whisk (perfect for stirring up the batter; I almost never use a full-size whisk, as this one is much handier)
Coconut Flour Cake
FOR THE COCONUT FLOUR CAKE:
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¾ cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 egg whites at room temperature
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
- ½ cup full-fat coconut milk shake the can well before opening and reserve some for the frosting
- Zest of 1 lemon
FOR THE FROSTING (omit to make Paleo, or swap your favorite Paleo vanilla frosting or whipped coconut cream):
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened; swap vegan butter to make dairy free
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2–3 cups powdered sugar sifted if lumpy
- 3 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk from the can above, plus additional as needed
- Sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
- Mini chocolate chips optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat one 9-inch round cake pan or two 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottom(s) with parchment paper, then lightly coat again. Set aside.
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the coconut oil for 30 seconds. Continue to heat in 15-second bursts, stopping as soon as it liquifies. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, sift together coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. Do not skip the sifting—it’s key to giving the cake a lighter texture.
- To the bowl with the room-temperature coconut oil, add the eggs, egg whites, honey, vanilla extract, almond extract, and coconut milk. (If, when you open your can of coconut milk, the cream and liquid are separated pour the contents of the can into a separate mixing bowl or large measuring cup and whisk to smoothly recombine before measuring out ½ cup. Learn from my mistakes and do not try to stir it together in the open can or you will have a liquidy mess running down the can and onto your counter.) Whisk until the wet ingredients are very well blended and no streaks of eggs remain.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The coconut flour will form large lumps at first, but just keep on whisking and consider this your arm workout for the day. Stop stirring when the flour lumps are small (about the size of sprinkles). With a rubber spatula, fold in the lemon zest. (I like to zest the lemon directly into the bowl.) Pour the cake into the prepared pan and, with the back of the spatula, smooth the top. (If using two pans, make sure to evenly divide the batter between each.)
- Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean, the cake is deeply golden at the edges, and the center springs back lightly when touched. Place the pan(s) on a wire rack and let cool in the pan(s) completely.
- While the cake cools, prepare the frosting: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and mix once more until blended.
- Add ½ cup of the powdered sugar. Mix it in on low speed. Continue adding the next 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar a little at a time until it is decently incorporated (if you add it too quickly, you’ll end up with a big cloud of sugar that billows out of the bowl). If at any point the mixture becomes dry and crumbly, add a little of the coconut milk as needed to begin thinning it. Add the rest of the 3 tablespoons coconut milk. Increase the speed to medium high and beat for a full 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides as needed. If the frosting seems too thick, add coconut milk 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time to thin it. If you would like the froster thicker, continue adding the remaining 1 cup additional powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.
- If making a single layer cake: Once the cake has cooled, transfer it to a serving plate, with the flat bottom-side down. If making a two-layer cake, place the first layer domed top-side down—if the dome is very high and the cake seems wobbly, you can level it first. Tucks strips of wax paper underneath the bottom of the cake to protect the plate. Spread the frosting all over the top of the cake (if adding a second layer, place it flat-side down, dome-side up). Continue frosting, swirling frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake. Decorate as desired. Slice and serve!
- Coconut flour does not have any substitutions that I can suggest. It is very unique and must be used in this recipe. If you prefer a different option, check out some of my other cake recipes.
- I do not recommend flax eggs in place of the eggs called for this recipe, as the eggs are necessary to ensure the cake will rise. If you’d like a vegan cake, check out my Instant Pot Cake recipe.
- Store leftover cake tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If storing in the refrigerator, let come to room temperature prior to serving. You can also freeze the cake for up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator (if you thaw at room temperature, the cake may become mushy).
- Frosting can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. If freezing, thaw the frosting in the refrigerator, then beat it for a few seconds so it becomes creamy again.
- You will have some extra coconut milk after making this recipe. Try using it in smoothies (or frozen cocktails!), add it to a chicken marinade, swap it for heavy cream in baking recipes, or use it in any of these coconut milk recipes.
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