The gluten/dairy free version of the Barefoot Contessa’s Coconut Cake

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This cake is positively sinful.  I don’t recommend baking it if you are dieting.  It is dense and moist; you will want to eat more than just one slice! 

I first made this cake for my mom’s birthday party.  My dad bought my mom a fabulous cake from a local bakery, but of course, it wasn’t gluten free.  This Coconut Cake was what I made for my daughters and I after my oldest daughter, Kylie, saw Ina Garten make this cake on the Barefoot Contessa.

Kylie and I love watching the Barefoot Contessa together.  Kylie begged me to make this cake so we could bake it together.  Not so simple when you consider what goes into adjusting a recipe to make it something we can eat.  

The cake ended up being fabulous, and it got rave reviews from my family at my mom’s party.  I decided to make it again yesterday for a girl’s night with a few close friends.

Coconut Cake + 3 fabulous friends + wine + lots of giggles = a great time!!  

Carissa is helping put the shredded coconut on the cake! 
Ready to eat!

For the cake:
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Coconut Cake

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil or palm shortening
2 cups sugar (organic sugar, palm sugar, sucant, etc…)
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup brown rice flour (finely ground, I use Authentic Foods)
1/2 cup sorghum flour (finely ground, I use Authentic Foods)
1/2 cup almond meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup coconut milk (the type in the can)
2 tsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for sprinkling on the cake once frosted)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (F).

Measure out a cup of coconut milk.  Stir in the apple cider vinegar and set aside.  

Using a heavy duty mixer, cream together the oil, coconut oil (or palm shortening), and sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until blended.  Continue mixing at low speed and add in both extracts, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.  Mix in the flours, one at a time – alternating between mixing in the flours, and adding in the coconut milk/vinegar mixture.  Mix until just blended.  Fold in the shredded coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour into two greased 9-inch round cake pans.   Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to completely cool before frosting.

You see how the coconut falls beautifully onto the plate?

For the frosting: 

1/2 cup palm shortening or coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut milk (the kind in the can)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar 

Alternative to frosting:

Jam or fresh sliced fruit would be a wonderful alternative to frosting. 


Would you share the last bite?

:)  Megan


  1. says

    Can you use the already boxed Arrowhead Mills GF all purpose baking mix? I’ve used this mix to make chocolate chip cookies and they turned out really good. Just have to make sure to sift the mix or it seems to have a bitter taste.

    • says

      Hi Tifanie!
      I’ve never tried using an all purpose baking mix for this cake. I think what makes the texture of this cake super yummy is the use of finely ground flours combined with the almond meal. BUT, that said, it might be okay with an all purpose mix, I’ve just never tried it before. If you do decide to test it out, please let us know how it turns out!
      :) Megan

    • says

      Hi Angie,
      This cake definitely wouldn’t work well with an egg substitute. There are too many eggs in it. Have you tried searching for gluten free/vegan cake recipes online? I wish I had a recipe I could recommend to you, but I don’t. :(
      Good Luck!

      • Angie Lockard says

        No, haven’t tried searching for a recipe yet. I don’t really have an occasion to make it yet, but it sounded so yummy I thought it would be fun to try and wanted to make it safe for hubby so I don’t eat the whole thing. 😉 I guess I’ll have to make it for me and the kids instead. :) Thanks for the input…I would have tried it and been disappointed when it failed. Take care! :)

  2. says

    Heya Megan, I’ve also tried the barefoot’s coconut cake but without EGGS and rice (as I am also intolerant to those). even so – truly yummy. glad to find the allergy free movement across the pond, xxx

    • Megan says

      Than unfortunately this probably isn’t the right recipe for you. There are many, many wonderful gluten-free and vegan cake recipes out there, that are already written without eggs. There are too many eggs used in this cake recipe to substitute them out.

  3. Ashley says

    Do I have to use a heavy duty mixer? Can I use a hand mixer? And can I attempt to fine up the brown rice flour and sorghum flour in a food processor or coffee grinder? Or must I buy these two specially fine flours? They are hard to find and rather expensive…

    • Megan says

      I think a hand mixer would work well. And this recipe is an older one of mine – I’ve since used regular ground flours (instead of fine ground) in it and it still turns out beautifully!


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