You’d never guess that this Vanilla Coconut Cake isn’t your typical dessert. This mini tower has a fantastic cakey crumb that’s light and moist, then topped with a vegan and paleo blackberry frosting! Amaze everyone with the beautiful purple cake you bring to the table, then even more once they take the first bite.
I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d bake my own birthday cake. But sometimes if you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself. And that’s how you wind up with a double-decker moist vanilla coconut cake covered in thick, luscious blackberry frosting.
The cake is kinda small, I’m kinda small– we match perfectly, down to our multiple layers of deliciousness.
If you remember exactly one year ago, I shared why I love birthdays, along with some brownies. Like the two years before that, I sat down to write a list of goals to accomplish by my next birthday. Except this time I didn’t come up with one for each year of my life. Although I can check off a few of them, the list went mostly unheeded. The goals didn’t even seem that important to me, more just a way to hit the “right number.”
Especially coming to the end of my formal education, the last times I’ll get grades, I’ve been trying to shift away from the focus on numbers. There’s so much more to me and you than can be conveyed by a combination of figures. The scale can’t quantify my self-worth. My GPA doesn’t equal my abilities. How many followers I have doesn’t define my impact. And a certain number of check marks next to arbitrarily chosen tasks on a piece of paper will never represent the fullness of a year in the life.
Instead we can sum up 21 in one sentence. I SURVIVED MY FIRST YEAR OF LEGAL ADULTHOOD. It was busy and crazy and full of transitions. I rode the ups and downs of life’s cliche rollercoaster that everyone loves to reference, while making each twist and turn uniquely mine. Said goodbye to some sources of negativity, waved hello to new friends and faces. Realized that unconventional doesn’t mean wrong because for me (and even you) it might actually be right.
While a strong part of me wishes that I could plan ahead for this next stage, I know that I can’t. For the first time, I don’t know what’s coming. In times like these there’s only one option. Take it one day at a time. Live so firmly in the present that the future can’t scare you. Whether or not that counts as a goal doesn’t matter. Hopefully I’ll internalize it for longer than just this coming year.
But enough about then, let’s focus on now. Starting with this cake you’ve been staring at.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. If you and coconut don’t get along, then this cake is not for you. It’s made with coconut flour, oil, and cream (in the frosting), because today it’s my party and I’ll have as much coconut as I please, thank you very much. After all, it is called Vanilla Coconut Cake for a reason.
Combined with almond flour and plenty of vanilla, you get a seamless blend of flavors that’s completely grain-free (ergo also gluten-free). It’s light and fluffy from the whipped egg whites, which is one of the most fascinating things to watch in action. Liquid whites turned stiff little peaks in a matter of minutes? Scientifically logical, yet still magical if you don’t think too much about it.
Like I said before, this dessert is small. Not that I don’t want more vanilla coconut cake goodness. It’s simply because teeny things are undeniably adorable and two layers are better than one. If you have two springform pans handy, then great! If not, don’t worry. Do what I did and either a) buy the pans or b) phone a friend who owns one and make half the recipe at a time. Friends will appreciate a hunk of cake when you return their pan, though, so be prepared to share until you get your own.
Once the cake is doing its thing in the oven, you’re free to make the frosting. Aka that sugary stuff we used to eat straight from the jar with our fingers during cake-decorating contests at camp.
Maybe you still like the standard store-bought chocolate or vanilla, content to keep scooping it out of those familiar plastic tubs. Except I think you’ve outgrown that. Actually, I know you moved on to bigger and better things a long time ago, when you realized that baking cake from scratch isn’t as tough as you thought. Nor is making a homemade topping to finish it off.
You could play it safe, do what you know people like. Frankly I don’t see the use. Be unconventional! Take a risk! Make blackberry frosting! It’s high time you started spreading this creamy, naturally sweetened, vegan, and paleo frosting all over your baked goods.
Since I know people, and I know people think this sounds risky, here’s when I play the it’s-my-birthday card. Now you have to try this frosting at least once, if only because it’s one of my favorite colors. Come on, let’s get going. There’s a vanilla coconut cake waiting to be coated with blackberry frosting.
If you try this recipe, I’d love your feedback. Leave a comment below, save it on Pinterest, or tag #lensesandlentils on Instagram so that I can see your creations!
- FOR THE CAKE
- 6 eggs, separated
- ⅔ cups honey
- ⅔ cups unsweetened original almond milk
- ½ cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3 cups almond flour
- 1 cup coconut flour*
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- FOR THE FROSTING
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight**
- ¾ cups raw cashews, soaked 2 hours, drained & rinsed***
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottoms of two 6¾-inch springform pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, coconut oil, honey, almond milk, and vanilla extract. Once fully combined slowly beat in the flours, baking powder, and salt.
- Using an electric mixers with the whisk attachment and a very clean and dry metal bowl, whip the egg whites lemon juice for about 7-10 minutes. It should form stiff peaks when you lift the whisk out of the bowl.
- Carefully fold the whipped egg whites into the batter, making sure that it is fully combined.
- VERY lightly grease the sides of the pans with coconut oil, then pour half the batter into each pan. Smooth it out with a spoon or rubber spatula. Bake for 40-43 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake feels slightly firm to the touch.
- Let cool for 10 minutes, then gently separate the sides of the cake from the pan and remove it to cool fully.
- To make the frosting, puree the blackberries and strain the liquid into a blender. Throw out the seeds.
- Remove the hardened coconut cream that should have rose to the top of your chilled can. Add it and the remaining ingredients to the blackberry liquid. Blend until smooth and creamy, adjusting the amount of honey if needed.
- When the cakes are fully cool, spread frosting on top of one, then place the other cake on top. Cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Optional: top with a handful of blackberries and coconut flakes.
- Store covered in the fridge for 1 week.
**I suggest putting an extra can of coconut milk in the fridge if possible. This way, if one can has not separated into the cream and milk, then you have another, since you need just the cream to create the right texture.
***If you're pressed for time, then you can boil water and let the cashews soak for 20-30 minutes.