This Vegan Lemon Coconut Layer Cake combines a soft, flavourful lemon sponge, whipped coconut vanilla frosting and has a toasted coconut coating on the sides. It is the perfect cake for a birthday or Spring gathering.
Hiya everyone, hope you’re well. I have one seriously delicious bake to share with you today; Vegan Lemon Coconut Layer Cake. It was my birthday the week before last and we had my family over on the, so I made myself a birthday cake.
My husband offered, but he hasn’t been very well the past few weeks. Plus I already had in mind exactly what I wanted my cake to look and taste like.
As the days are getting longer and brighter, I find myself craving lemon everything. I wanted to add a tropical twist to this cake and make a cake that wasn’t going to bring out a reaction in me (dairy allergy).
So, whilst I planned on just making a dairy free cake, once I started loosely writing the recipe out and wondering how to make it, so that you could appreciate the coconut as well as the lemon.. It ended up being a vegan cake too. Although I don’t think you would know this is vegan, my husband agrees. It just tastes like really delicious cake! That’s always my aim with anything dairy free/vegan, I don’t want it to be that you’re missing anything.
I would normally bake with coconut milk. However, I decided to make this cake with coconut cream as it definitely tastes a little more coconut-y and it is also creamier. I thought I needed that element, since there are no eggs in this recipe. The lack of egg could have made this cake dry, but I made sure to counteract that.
The result is a super flavourful, buttery soft cake with a fresh lemon zing and hint of coconut. The frosting I made for this cake is genuinely one of the best I’ve ever made/eaten. It’s so light and fluffy and the flavour is incredible.
I’m still relatively new to dairy free/vegan baking, so I feel a bit like every bake is an experiment again. I know that developing recipes is an experiment anyway. But, when you’re using things you’ve never used before, or not using things you’re used to using… I am a bit more apprehensive when I open that oven door!
HOW TO MAKE THIS VEGAN LEMON COCONUT LAYER CAKE…
This cake is the perfect example of me still learning about alternative ingredients. It took a few goes to perfect it, but we got there in the end. The first bake, I opened the oven and stuck a skewer in, it was clean. However, the cake looked too soft and pale, so I put it back in. Big mistake! While normally you’d want a golden cake, this time round it was overbaked.
I also wasn’t 100% happy with the texture, so I tweaked a couple of things. After some more experimenting, it was perfect.
The batter itself is really simple. I beat a little vegan butter with sugar and lemon zest. Then I added lemon juice and sunflower oil before mixing until light and combined. It’s so cool watching this bit, it goes from creamed butter, to looking like it might be a chunky mess. Stay with it, because it comes together and becomes one smooth, creamy mixture.
Next up, I added all the dry ingredients, plus the coconut cream. A note here that this is not a solid block of creamed coconut. It’s the thicker, creamier version of coconut milk – if you don’t shake your coconut milk well enough, there’s normally a layer of cream at the top. I bought a tin of this.
Once my batter was ready, I divided it evenly between two lined 8 inch cake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and very lightly golden. Be aware that this cake might look like it’s not baked and is too soft in the middle. But, as soon as the colour is evenly yellow/pale gold and your skewer comes out without crumbs, it’s done.
While the cakes were cooling, I toasted some desiccated coconut so it was cool enough to stick to the cake. After cooling the cake, I made the frosting. I used a vegan butter block, icing sugar, desiccated coconut, salt, vanilla and a touch of coconut milk. I beat the frosting for a good 5 minutes, so it was light as air and super fluffy.
For the filling, I took 3tbsp of the frosting and mixed it with 2tbsp of vegan lemon curd/spread. I spread this over the top of one of the cakes, then flipped the second cake to give me a flat top. I used a small angled spatula to cover the cake in the frosting. This doesn’t have to be perfect, since you’ll be covering the sides in toasted coconut. I got it pretty neat, did some lines on the top and then stuck toasted coconut all the way around the cake.
The final thing to do, optional of course, is to cut across a slice of lemon and twist it to add a little something to the middle of the cake.
And that’s it! Your Vegan Lemon Coconut Layer Cake is ready to serve!
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Vegan Lemon Coconut Layer Cake
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar, I used Tate and Lyle, make sure yours is vegan!
- 1 stick (113g) vegan butter, at room temperature
- Zest of 2 large lemons
- 1/3 cup (80ml) sunflower/vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups (350g) plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp lemon extract, optional
- 1/2 cup (120g) coconut cream, see note*
- 1 tbsp coconut milk, or other non dairy milk
- FOR THE FROSTING:
- 2 stick (226g) vegan butter, at room temperature (not vegan spread, but a vegan butter block)
- 3 cups (360g) icing/powdered sugar, I used Tate and Lyle
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp desiccated coconut, optional
- 1-2 tbsp coconut milk
- 1 cup (90g) desiccated coconut
- Slice of lemon for garnish, optional
- 2 tbsp vegan lemon spread/curd, optional
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line two round 8 inch cake tins with grease proof paper.
- Place the vegan butter, caster sugar and lemon zest into a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, and beat until smooth and fluffy – around 2 minutes on med-high speed.
- Add in the lemon juice and oil, mix on medium speed until it becomes pale and creamy. At first it will look a bit chunky/split, then it will come together and become smooth and creamy.
- Add in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, lemon extract (if using), and coconut cream. Mix on low until everything starts to come together, then add 1tbsp of coconut milk/milk of your choice.
- Continue to mix, this time on medium-high speed, until everything is well combined and smooth.
- Divide your batter between your prepared cake tins and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until risen, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be yellow/pale golden, not golden brown all over. It may look/feel soft in the middle, like it's under done, but it's not. If that skewer comes out with no crumbs, it's done. Mine took 22 minutes.
- Leave the cakes to cool. While cooling, place 1 cup of desiccated coconut into a dry frying pan, over a medium heat. Stir continuously, until the coconut is golden brown. Be careful as it will go from golden to burnt quite quickly! Leave to one side to cool.
- Once everything is cooled, make the frosting: Place the vegan butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer and mix on low speed until the sugar starts to incorporate with the butter. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until it becomes a smooth, thick creamy mixture.
- Add in the desiccated coconut and 1 tbsp of milk. Mix on high and continue to mix for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture becomes pale and super light and fluffy. You may need an extra tbsp of milk, I needed an extra half tbsp, so 1.5tbsp in total.
- You want a frosting that is easy to spread, but not so runny it won't hold its shape. It needs to stay where you put it, but not rip the cake apart while spreading!
- Take 3tbsp of frosting and place in a separate bowl. Add in 2tbsp of vegan lemon curd, or lemon curd if you're not bothered about it being vegan. Set to one side.
- Place 1tbsp of your frosting onto a plate/cake stand and place one of your cooled cakes onto it. Spread the top of that cake with your lemon curd and frosting mixture. Flip the second cake, so the base is your top and place on top of the frosted cake.
- Spoon around 1/4 cup of frosting onto the top of the cake and smooth over the top of the cake. Using a small angle spatula, add frosting to the sides of your cake and smooth. Continue until the whole cake is covered in frosting, the sides don't have to be 100% perfectly smooth. Just get them as smooth as you're happy with. On the top, I took the tip of my spatula and did some curved lines across as decoration, you can leave little peaks, or smooth it completely, go in lines, whatever you want to do.
- Place your plate/cake stand over a couple of pieces of kitchen paper, then gently apply the toasted coconut with your (clean) hands. Don't press too hard or it will go into the frosting, when you want it to just coat the cake instead. I took the coconut all around the sides and ever so slightly over the top edge. I left some of the coconut around the bottom edge of the cake too as I thought it looked nice. You can dust all of that away if you'd rather.
- Take a slice of lemon and cut across through one side of peel, through the lemon slice and stop at the peel on the opposite side. Twist the lemon in the middle to make a swirl. Place this in the centre of the cake to finish, this is optional of course.
- After that, your Vegan Lemon Coconut Layer Cake is ready to serve! It will also keep, covered, at room temperature for 5 days, or in the fridge for a week.